Badger Roaming Roy Dog 7.5% - "dark porter style ale" according to the brewery, complex malt, Galaxy and Bramling Cross. Big mouthfeel, warming, very characteristic Badger style, melony ester, bitter finish. Very fruity, not really a porter-style beer, a bit sweet and light bodied, perhaps too much fruit and not enough fruit [this should read "too much fruit and not enough chocolate"]. Bottled straight from the fermenter and recommended from keeping. It's OK, very Badger, good to see them pushing the envelope a bit
Traquair Jacobite Ale 8% - big on the heritage story, and rightly so - brewing since 1965, fermenting in unlined oak tuns, output of 1000hl per year (tiny). Like dark black tea in appearance, quite bright for an unfiltered beer.Sweet, big burst of spices on the palate, silky smooth, superb balance and length. Epic, needs to be rediscovered
Innis & Gunn Oloroso Cask 7.4% - be still my pounding heart, a beer aged in a sherry cask should be right up my calle. Sweet oak dominates the nose, and the palate. Perhaps thrown into the shade a little bit by the previous beer, this seems a little one-dimensional. Perceptive questions about provenance and process from my compatriot bloggers. The beer is "dry-oaked" rather than dry hopped. Smooth, easy to drink, a little tannic - not really my thing.
Toccalmatto Surfing Hop Double IPA 8.5% - wanted to create something new, with a bigger malt profile - Blegian malt profile, special B, and other speciality malts. Big dry hopping charge, really American technique. Copper brown, but really massive hop character - citrussy and slightly floral, big and sweet mid-palate, drying out nicely at the end. Hilarious disconnect between brown appearance and huge punchy hop character. Really a PHWOAR beer - appeals to the monkey part of my brain.
Inveralmond Blackfriar 7% - described by head brewer Ken as a Scotch ale. Made with a double mash and "boil the bejaysus out of it", getting caramelisation through Maillard reactions (nice to hear this term, you know your your shit Ken). Pitch yeast at 20c, rises to 26c, producing lots of of fruity esters. Really sweet but not cloying on the palate, superbly enjoyable.
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30th Anniversary Ale 11% - from a 40yr old first-fill sherry cask, and click on my face if yu can't tell the sherry character bursting out of the glass. Thick, gloopy, oozing onto my palate like Eartha Kitt shimmying out of an opium den. Chocolate, spice, sherry, and slight hint of funkiness. I cannot conceive of getting a better beer today.
Shepherd Neame Brilliant Ale 5.6% - part of a heritage range of beers trawled from the brewer's logs, the recipe for Brilliant Ale is based on an old recipe, augmented by an addition of new hops. Brilliant bright gold, classic Sheps character (the use of East Kent Goldings hops probably makes that) with a hint of fruitiness. Bears up amazingly well after the sexy shimmy of Ola Dubh, feels brilliantly clean and bright, refreshing. A hit!
WEST Brewery St Mungo 4.9% - "a lager somehwere in between a pils and a helles" say Ruth from WEST. Brilliant gold colour, slightly grainy nose, nice carbonation on the palate. Easy-drinking, slightly sweet on the palate, some dryness building in the finish. Nor very beer needs to be a symphony, but this is a decent opening movement.
Ilkley Brewery The Mayan 6.5% - "Ilkley is a spa town, so we have fantastic water" explains Luke. The Mayan is part of the Origins range, part of the specials range where they explore different styles of beer around the world. Chocolate chilli stout, majoring perhaps a bit too much on the chocolate flavour, with cocoa nibs and powder in the mash. Luke claims to have enjoyed a second pint of this - it's a good beer, but not one to session