Saturday, 24 July 2010

Islay Ales

On the ferry to Islay we were tempted to try some of the local brew, and shared a triumvirate of bottles from Islay Ales. By the end of our weekend on the island, we'd worked our way through a couple more, yielding the following notes...

Finlaggan (3.7% vol): A gentle, hoppy beer.
Light, thin, clean, no aftertaste, inoffensive, berries, cinnamon, fruity, watery hops. Easy drinking ale with a citrus zing up front that quickly fades to nothing, a bit like the sun in the west of Scotland.

Dun Hogs Head (4.4%): Dark, dry stout.
Blackcurrant on the nose. Medium bodied. Slight taste of lemon, coffee and liquorice, with wood smoke in the finish, like a burning fruit bush.

Black Rock (4.2%): With unmalted roasted barley.
Like dropping a Werther's Original into a glass of water. Toffee, but not enough of it. A little Islay smoke in the finish? Banana, rich hops with more carbonation than the Finlaggan.

Nerabus (4.8%): Described as a winter warmer.
Malty, chocolatey ale, with chocolate malt!

Single Malt (5.0%): We assumed this involved whisky casks but we were wrong. The single malt in question was simply the single variety of malt (Pale) used to brew the beer. Cheeky.
Lighter, sweeter, hoppier.

It must be hard, sometimes, being the only brewery on an island of eight whisky distilleries. But Islay Ales are doing it anyway. My favourite of the crop was the Dun Hogs Head, illustrating my growing preference for stouts and porters. Some of the others were less exciting, but overall the beer was a bonus addition to an already remarkable island.

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