Jul 29, 2011

beer time, summer in the city...

New York got hit by a heat wave a week ago and it is still pretty hot... It's the perfect time of the year to take the beer bottles out of the refrigerator one by one. Here are three Scottish bottles I enjoyed this week:

Scottish Stout by Belhaven Brewery (7.0%): Located in Dunbar Belhaven is one of the best known Scottish breweries. Especially their delicious creamy ale expression Belhaven Best can be found in almost every pub in Scotland on draft. I have a 16.9oz bottle of their stout beer in my refrigerator to pop up instead. Color: Very dark, damson plum, almost black with a thick beige head fading out quickly to a thin layer of bubbles. Look: Pretty busy: freshly grinded Turkish coffee, bitter chocolate, roasted malt. Palate: Quite malty but easy drinking and not so thick. Dominant dark chocolate and ripe dark fruit notes, plums and cherries mainly. Lightly charred wood and roasted coffee beans. I wish it was more creamy. Overall: From all the nose action and it's color I was expecting a thicker body. It's a thin stout but nicely balanced with it's high abv. Perfect brew to sip with a beef stew, shepherds pie or game meat. I have to admit that it is a quite wintery beer though. Note to yourself: Don't let it get warm in the glass...
Dark Island by Sinclair Breweries (4.6%): Orkney Islands host two truly amazing breweries The Highland Brewing Company and Sinclair Breweries in addition to their world famous distilleries Highland Park and Scapa. Both of them produce exceptional beers distributed widely in Scotland and England. Dark Island is an expression from Sinclair Breweries and is one of their most common cask ales which is available actually on draft on mainland Scotland and England but I will be pouring it's bottled version. Look: Black in the glass but you can see it's beautiful dark ruby port color when held up to the light. Thick tan head. Nose: Roasted malt, caramel and light hops. Palate: Medium body. Black currant chocolate, prunes, dried dates and dried figs. Quite hoppy for a dark ale. Earthy and caramelized finish. Overall: To be honest I felt in love with the cask version of this beer in Scotland and needless to say it was also the choice of our Orkney trip with Scapa Special of The Highland Brewing Company. Bottled expression doesn't give the same satisfaction but it is still an amazing beer. On the other hand the bottle is pretty handsome I have to say.

Dragonhead by Sinclair Breweries (4.0%): This bottle is a beautiful stout expression again from Sinclair Breweries of Orkney Islands and launched as a tribute to the Viking heritage of the islands. It comes again in 16.9oz pretty Sinclair Breweries bottles. Look: Pitch black with a nice dense light brown head which goes down pretty quick. Nose: Frozen coffee parfait, cafe au lait, heavily roasted malt. It gets much better after the head fades out. Palate: Everything the nose promised. This time coffee is bitter with dark roasted cacao nibbles. Nice sweet cask char, toasted nuts and hint of licorice. I liked the unexpected light smokey finish. Overall: Stunning beer... I am sure any other Scotch lover will think the same. It's not your everyday beer though. You don't want to sit at a bar and drink this beer one after another. Perfect companion with meat and heavy cheeses or with warm chocolate cake. Definitely a winter brew but I enjoyed it very much chilled at a hot summer night.