Saturday, 3 July 2010

Stewart Pilsen and Dopplebock

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of Stewart Brewing's new speciality bottled beers the other night. Known until now for cask beer rather closely modeled on famous Edinburgh beers of the past such as No. 3 and 80/–, the brewers have made an unexpected (to me) move by trying their hand at German styles, brewing a Pilsner and Dopplebock (sic, but if the Dutch can have their own spelling, so can the Scots).

The evening started off poorly as I mistakenly got on the slow train from Glasgow to Edinburgh which pootles through the scenic countryside, but takes twice as long as the express, then got hopelessly lost while looking for Cornelius the beer and wine shop. But my luck changed, and I discovered a magnificently jakey pub:

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The beer is dire and there isn't even any Light, but they have a splendid old Drybrough's mirror praising their Pale and Mild Ales. But I was thirsty so the Tennent's Lager was just about bearable.

Things improved further when I stopped at an off-licence to ask directions to the pub where the launch was. The manager twigged why I was going there, raved about how good the Dopplebock was and expressed regret he couldn't leave the shop to attend the launch too. That's what I call a town with a close-knit beer scene.

Anyway, on to the lager! What are they like? Well, they are proper lagers that get 76 days of maturation. They also contain a bit of wheat. Some people say wheat shouldn't be in lager. I overheard poor Steve Stewart, the brewery boss, having to endure being lectured on this subject by a fat bloke with a plastic bag who smelt of piss. If that's not a reason not to do it, I don't know what is.

The Dopplebock is 7%, sweet and malty, as you might expect. Pilsen is 5.6% and is very, very dry indeed with grassy hops and a respectable bitterness. It was quite hot and sweaty in the pub (who decided to launch a 7% beer on the hottest day of the year?) so I'm reluctant to give a final judgement on these two until I've had a second, calmer taste. I can, however, say they are damn good beers, better than a lot of the muck you get served up in Germany these days, and definitely worth a try.

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