Monday, 6 October 2008

Fire Down Below



Given my disinclination to drink Deuchars IPA and my feeling that this isn't quite the beer it used to be, I had mixed feelings about visiting Caledonian Brewery, which I did on Friday night. I had been round it some years ago and in those days Deuchars was the beer a lot of people raved about. Would it be better in its own brewery?

The tour was good. Not too long and not too short. John, our guide, mentioned up front the plague of fires that has littered the brewery's history, which is an interesting one, beginning with the initial owner being burned to death at the theatre and ending with a disastrous fire in the early 1980s which all but destroyed the brewery, mercifully being stopped before it wiped out the brewing kit, but wrecking nearly everything else. The only fire now that is welcome in the brewery is the flame that heats the directly fired coppers. The brewery is splendidly old fashioned, with the beer being fermented in traditional open squares of 50 barrel capacity. Full flower hops are used and the brewing seemed to me, to be done in an entirely traditional manner. No party gyle, no high gravity brewing and quality ingredients, including top quality Scottish malt.

In the hospitality suite we were offered Deuchars, XPA and Caley 80/-. The Deuchars was actually very good, though it still has that kind of dull undertone of toffee which sits ill with it. The very pale XPA was disappointingly bland, though it did have some spicy hops at the end. Perhaps best of all was the very traditional 80/- with its biscuity malt, a good dash of crystal to lift it and a a toffee and malt finish. I think the directly fired copper produces a little caramelisation which sits well with a darker beer, but maybe not so well with a paler one.

The hospitality was generous and lasting. We were in the sample room for two hours plus and the Scotch pies, a new thing to most of our party, went down well. It was a good night in a brewery where they are certainly proud and committed. They didn't mention Heineken once!

The second photo is of the Steel's Masher in Caledonian's brewery. For Ron Pattinson as he likes this kind of thing and I am sad enough to like it too!

5 comments:

Jeff Frane said...

The second pint I had on landing in Scotland (at Tennant's) was the 80/-. I thought it was grand but at that point I thought everything about Glasgow, Tennant's, real ale, and Scottish girls was grand. I wouldn't have thought it was at all your style, since you were constantly whinging about Scottish ale being too dark and too malty.

Tandleman said...

Jeff. I might not care for it but it doesn't mean I don't understand how it should taste.

Jeff Frane said...

So what's in the pie? Sweet or savory?

Tandleman said...

Minced beef on this occasion though traditionally it would be mutton

Tandleman said...

Minced beef on this occasion though traditionally it would be mutton