Next time you grab a pint have a think about it. Do you drink the same thing all the time? Doesn’t it get a little bit boring?
Well if you’re in the mood for a little ale experimentation you’ll need to get yourself along to The Scottish Real Ale Festival 2012.
Held in Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange, the event provides punters with the chance to sample over 100 Scottish beers. There’s no mass produced rubbish here though, these are beers from some of Scotland’s more creative brewers.
Taking a sneak peek at proceedings last night, Scotcampus grabbed the chance to get the lowdown on why Scottish brewing scene is exploding with options.
The first brewery we spoke to was Arran. A small set-up on the Scottish island, Arran has become famous for its easy to drink Arran Blonde. Now a regular sight in supermarkets, the team behind the beer are looking to diversify and expand their range.
Jose Luis Bravo studied brewing in Chicago before heading over to Arran where he’s been finalising his training. As part of his graduation, he’s whacking together an ambitious American style IPA for the brewery. “I wanted to create a hybrid of American and British ales styles,” Jose Luis says. “It’s going to be an aromatic beer. I’m using one American hop and two English hops and we’re hoping to put it out on bottle and cask”
Arran Brewery owner Gerald Michaluk is especially excited about the future of his business. Not just because of Jose Luis’ recent experimentations, but also because of a near tenfold expansion of their beer making capacity.
While relatively small players right now, Arran’s expansion plans will enable them to get out 180 barrels a day meaning they’ll be much better placed to meet national and international demand.
Fans of their ales will also be able to play a part in the process with a share option allowing them to buy into any future success being launched later this year. Keep an eye on www.arranbrewery.com for more details.
The Scottish Real Ale Festival 2012 isn’t just a celebration of the established breweries, it’s also an opportunity for smaller players to showcase their brews, meet new people and share some ideas.
One of the most interesting breweries hanging out at the trade night was Natural Selection.
Each year Edinburgh’s Stewart Brewery (famed for their award winning Hollyrood Pale Ale) allow a team of student brewers from Heriot-Watt to take over an area of their operation where they can create their own one-off brew. This year’s Natural Selection team have conjured up an intriguing offering loaded with seven different hop varieties.
According to Natural Selection’s Shane O’Beirne, Anorak as it has been christened, “is an easy drinking wheat beer. It’s a real summer drink coming in at 4.8%.”
Anorak is being launched in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge Tap on Wednesday the 11th and could be one of the most anticipated beers of 2012. See www.naturalselectionbrewing.com for details.
In between half pints (perfect for sampling the beers on offer) we also managed to catch up with a stack of other Scottish Brewers.
Fresh from a couple of Silver Awards from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), Ayr Brewing Company’s Anthony Valenti is about to commit even more of his time to the operation following the sale of a business. His Dr Hornbook Blonde Stout is tipped by many to be one of the most popular beers on offer at the three day event. We liked it a lot. Blonde but a little bolshie, it’s as far removed from a traditional Scottish beer as you could imagine.
Loch Ness, a small operation brimming with good ales and eccentric ideas are also worth checking up on if you head along. Owner George Wotherspoon admits to living the dream in many respects and like many of the other people we spoke to is not only excited about experimenting with different beer styles (curry beer anyone?) but also a planned brewery expansion.
With so much talent growing out of the Scottish beer scene, now is the perfect time to check out The Scottish Real Ale Festival. Attendees can try out pale beers, dark, beers, strong beers and light beers from a huge range of inspiring Scottish breweries. You can banter with your buddies or hunt down some brewers. More importantly though, it’s an annual celebration of malt and hops which will hopefully get you thinking twice about what you order and enjoy when you go into the pub.
The event runs from June 28th till June 30th. For more information on The Scottish Real Ale Festival check out their website www.sraf.org.uk.