Despite the fact that I haven't lived in my home country in more than a decade, I still keep a keen eye on developments in Scotland, and not just from a beer perspective. My brother lives just north of Dingwall and I still harbour ambitions of one day going home to the Highlands, settling properly, raising a family and all that good stuff.
Naturally then I do like to keep myself abreast of what is going on in Scottish brewing, and so I can draw up lists of beers that I need to try when I get to Europe on holidays in the meantime. As I mentioned the other day, my parents now live in France, but when they go to visit the family back home I am always tempted to get them to stock up on beers from various breweries for this Christmas. The same is also true with my eldest brother that lives in Kent, when next he goes to visit our parents I will be asking him to take a case or two of Kentish brew down with him. Of course if Scottish brewers want to send cases of beer to my parents' place ahead of Christmas, just email me and I will provide an address.
Anyway, back on topic. In my regular trawls through the various websites and blogs about Scottish brewing one thing comes back to me time after time - there are a lot of breweries in Scotland that deserve more attention than they get.
One of my beer highlights of this year was finding in Greenville, South Carolina, Arran Dark from the Arran Brewery. Perhaps drinking it with heavy doses of nostalgia sweetened the experience, but what a gorgeous beer that is. I am avowedly not a hop head, preferring a balanced beer that I can drink with abandon and Arran Dark is just such a beer. When next we head to South Carolina, which should be around Thanksgiving, I am hoping to get hold of a case of said delight.
Heading back over to the mainland brings us to that mecca of Scottish brewing, Alloa, and Williams Brothers. Perhaps best known for their range of historic ales such as Fraoch, Kelpie and Grozet, they are also brewers of the lovely Midnight Sun, a simply delicious 80/- Heavy and of course the inestimable Joker IPA, which Beer Run had on cask a while back and was wonderful.
Some of my favourite beers for drinking in the depths of winter come from home as well, Harviestoun's simply, utterly sublime Old Engine Oil for starters, not forgetting Bitter and Twisted, which I rather enjoy in the summer months. Traquair House make great beers that are ideal for supping next to the fire while warming your frost nipped toes. Both will hopefully again be making appearances in France at Christmas.
I know this is just scratching the surface of all the great beer being brewed in Scotland, and the likes of The Beer Monkey and Barm are far better placed to bring the latest in Scottish brewing to our attention. However, one thing I would like to see is more praise of the rest of the Scottish brewing family, more attention in the blogosphere for the likes of West, Tryst, Inveralmond, Fyne Ales, Isle of Skye Brewery and the Black Isle Brewery.