On my journeys to Islay I usually stop at Fyne Ales to buy some of their beers and if available some meat. For obvious reasons that isn’t happening at the moment and hasn’t happened for a while. I’ve previously ordered some of their beers online, last week I decided to add something else, some meat.
I ordered a Venison Sizzle Box, which was dispatched and arrived this week, just in time for this weekend. The box includes steaks, burgers and sausages. Of course I also ordered some of my favourites beers, namely some Jarl, Avalanche and Easy Trail.
While most of the box went into the freezer for later consumption I kept one of each for a “Fyne Venison Weekend” this weekend. I started with the steak, which turned out very nice. Lean yet juicy, very tender. Great taste. Tomorrow I’ll have the burgers and I’ll finish on Sunday with the sausages.
The beer I’m enjoying this evening (with a nice pizza, although sadly not from the Peatzeria) is a Harviestoun Heaven Cent. Now you might say, Harviestoun Brewery, isn’t that in Clackmannanshire? And you would be right. However, the IPA in question was created by Lisa Matthews. And you probably guessed it, yes, the youngest Scottish female brewer grew up on Islay.
While I’m not an expert I think Lisa did a fantastic job. To me it tastes very well balanced, just right between the bitterness and the fruitiness (or whatever you call it). I love it. While I ordered it blind I’m pleased that I took the risk and trusted Lisa doing a great job. I’ve got two mini kegs (which is how I was able to take a picture of a closed keg and a full glass next to it), one for this weekend, the other one probably for next weekend. I hope it will become part of the regular line-up at Harviestoun.
As I’m starting a long weekend, a belated bank holiday weekend, this evening (taking a day in lieu after having to work on the August bank holiday Monday) I thought this is a good time to enjoy a special beer:
While not the type of beer I usually drink (I prefer Golden Ales and Pale Ales) I quite like this one. It has a nice smoky taste, but it’s not overpowering to me. Just the right amount. A bit heavier than the beers I usually drink, but again not too much. I think I’ve got five cans left (minimum as well as maximum purchase was two boxes of four cans), I’ll enjoy them slowly over the coming weeks or even months.
It’s that time of year again. It’s August, not long after the Islay Show (some people say the end of summer), the British Birdfair in Rutland is on. And just like last year and many years before there will be an Islay stand. From the 17th to the 19th of August 2018 the Islay team will be ready for visitors and their questions at the stand. With some Islay refreshments of course.
Where is the stand? In Marquee 7 on Stand 14/15. Here’s their description:
The islands of Islay and Jura lie off the west coast of Scotland and form part of the Southern Hebrides. Accessible only by plane or ferry these beautiful islands provide a haven for birds and wildlife all year round. Autumn and winter are spectacular times to visit when Islay’s population of just 3000 people are joined by 40,0000 Barnacle Geese and 5,000 Greenland White Fronted Geese. Their October arrival heralds a true birding spectacular and one not to be missed. Throughout the year both islands are home to golden and white-tailed sea eagles, hen harriers and chough – all of which can easily be sighted during a week long stay. Corncrakes can be heard in our late spring and summer evenings along with the unworldly sounds of drumming snipe. Islay and Jura are famous throughout the world for their whisky. Home to 9 and soon be to 10 whisky distilleries. Our stand at the Birdfair celebrates this great island produce with tastings throughout the three days. Just follow your nose and you’ll find us at Marquee 7 Stand 14/15. Visit us and plan your next island escape!
I believe visitors to the stand can win a week on Islay, but it’s even better than that, there is also an online competition. Visit the Islay and Jura marketing group website for more:
Same as last year (and the year before. And the year before. And the year before. etc) Islay is represented at the Birdfair in Rutland. There’s one difference this year though, this year the Islay stand is a double stand. Much easier to find and more space to sample some of the liquid offerings from Islay and Jura while discussing the bird- and other wildlife. Here are two impressions of the stand:
As you can see there’s whisky and gin from all the distilleries as well as beer from Islay Ales. There’s also some generous helpings of Walker’s shortbread I’m told (I think it might be what’s visible just right of the table under the ‘visit The Oa’ poster). So if you’re at the Birdfair head over to Marquee 7 Stand 14/15 to meet the Islay crew, have a chat and enjoy a sample.
Something slightly different this evening. Usually the whiskies or beers I mention on this blog are from Islay or at least somewhere in Argyll. This one is from much further afield (from Stonehaven to be precise), but it has been influenced by Islay. Last weekend I stumbled over this tweet:
Having asked for more information I found out it’s a beer brewed by sixº north in Scotland in collaboration with Brouwerij De Ranke in Belgium, aged in Islay whisky casks. I was also told it was available to order online at EeBria, on an impulse I went ahead and ordered some. It doesn’t come cheap, but I decided it was worth it for a treat. The description reads:
This six malt dark brooding beer, fermented in hand picked Islay Whisky casks for 6 months producing a subtle yet balanced typical Islay infusion with hints of Caramel, Dark Fruits, Oak and Fino Sherry.
A few days later the three bottles (+ three others I had also ordered to taste some other time) had arrived:
This evening it was time to open the first bottle. Keeping in mind that it is 9.2% alcohol I decided one bottle would have to be enough, even though it is only a 330ml bottle. As a pint glass was all that I had available the presentation is a bit lacking, but at least you get an idea:
I’m no good in tasting and tasting notes, but I must say the description of ‘dark brooding’ hits it for me. That’s really what it seems to be. To me it appeared very smooth, velvety, dark and heavy. But also fruity. Very nice. I’ll certainly enjoy the remaining bottles, money well spent.
I know there are other Islay cask aged real ales out there, certainly something I’ll explore further in the future.