Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Northern Lights

My trip to Edinburgh turned up a few interesting bottled beers that I bought from off licenses, but curiously the best of them came from a whisky shop. I did feel a little strange leaving a whisky shop with an armful of ale when there were so many malts on offer, but fear not, I did sample some wonderful whisky, the highlight of which was a collection of 20 year old single malts. I learned a great deal about whisky while there, and even tried a blended whisky that had been finished in an ale cask. I couldn't detect any ale, and I figured if there was any ale flavour to be had I'd pick it up.

The Orkney Brewery features quite prominently in these shops, but my experience of their wares did not go beyond Skullsplitter which I recall being a a very satisfying strong beer, so I was quite surprised to see a 3.4% golden ale on the shelf by the same brewery because my limited experience of Scottish beer led me to expect more of the Skullsplitter variety. Raven Ale proved to be a eminently drinkable golden ale with a very curious and satisfying mealy malt character.
The second of their beers was also a golden ale. Northern Light is zestier than Raven Ale, more hop driven but with good juicy malt to back it up. I tried a number of cask golden ales while in Edinburgh's free houses, but all lacked the malt support that this beer gives, resulting in a disappointing beer that gave up the ghost long before the end of the glass. I also found some much anticipated Brew Dog Paradox Stout aged in whisky casks. Not only did I find this beer, but I found two editions, each aged in a different type of cask. But that's for another day and another post. It might be some time because I tend to save such beers for a quite a while.

No comments: