Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A visit to Windie Goat

No sooner had I remarked to a friend that you can't move in Scotland nowadays for new breweries opening, than I heard the sad news that Windie Goat at the Failford Inn has brewed its last batch. The new owners of the pub don't want to carry on brewing, so the kit has been sold off.

Visiting the Failford had actually been on my list of things to do for some time, ever since Alan from Beer in Japan went last autumn and came away raving about their beer.

Michael Jackson once wrote something along the lines that while you could read the books of a long dead author or listen to a dead composer's music, "you cannot drink a beer you once enjoyed if the brewery has gone out of business." With that in mind, I decided to go down and taste the beer while I still had the chance.

The brewery was situated in an old-school country inn in rural Ayrshire, in a village that is literally two bus stops and a pub. But don't jump to conclusions; Windie Goat is a modern outfit making new-wave real ale. In common with many of the new brewing generation, brewster
Michelle Kelsall uses American hops liberally in her beers.

Drinking a beer that will never be brewed again is a strange experience. You want it to be memorable, and I was not disappointed. The last brew, a special called Final Fling, is bittered with Progress and flavoured with lots of Nelson Sauvin and Cascades. It is absolutely fantastic. I've had a couple of pure Nelson Sauvin beers before and didn't get the fuss. But the Cascade gives the beer the dry, grassy edge missing in the grapey, peachy Nelson Sauvin aromas. It's a great combination.

There's one other beer on, Peden's Cove, one of the regular beers. It's pale and actually reminds me (in a good way) a bit of Draught Bass, with a little sulphur. Michelle looks nonplussed; the water is very soft here, and it's not burtonised. I am left with no idea where that note came from, and worry that my palate might have been ruined by the hop attack of Final Fling. I move back to Final Fling, and the second pint is as splendid as the first.

It's a sad loss for the beer landscape in Ayrshire. Windie Goat made outstanding, challenging beers, and they sold well to a market to which many brewers only dare to offer boring brown bitter. But I hope and expect that Michelle will pop up again in the future, making beer somewhere in the world. Wherever it is, drinkers there will be able to consider themselves privileged.

1 comment:

  1. What I liked about the Failford was the fact that it was a brewpub and those are few and far between. Microbreweries are a different kettle of fish - they tend to be on the bland side as they need to find outlets. Michelle on the other hand made distinctive beers, full of character - Gutter Slab was a 'real' IPA with masses of hop bite although she capped it at 5.5. Deuchars is poor by comparison yet is the best you can get as far as I've seen. As you say, somebody give this brewster a job when she regains her enthusiasm, it will be the best thing you ever do.