Saturday, 8 March 2014

New beers from Harviestoun

It is sobering to think that when I started writing this blog, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted was one of the hoppiest draught beers on the Scottish market. Pale and hoppy, it came in the wake of the spectacular success of Deuchars IPA, which was once a well-hopped bitter similar to Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. Twelve or thirteen years ago Deuchars was a superb beer which seemed to be available almost everywhere, giving the lie to the idea that good beer can’t also be popular.

Deuchars was so popular that other brewers rushed to copy it, and there were a crowd of Deuchars-a-likes such as Houston Peter’s Well, Cairngorm Trade Winds and others.

With Bitter & Twisted, Harviestoun went a step further than a mere clone, far more bitter, citrussy and juicy than Deuchars ever was.

But times change, and Bitter & Twisted does not seem as extreme as it once did. Even hoppier beers such as Fyne Jarl came along to dazzle beer drinkers, just as it once outshone Deuchars.

Nowadays, most new Scottish brewers hop like lunatics, as if in a subconscious attempt to compensate for fifty years of people saying “Well, of course traditionally Scottish beer wasn’t hoppy because hops don’t grow in Scotland etc etc etc.”

Harviestoun have reacted to the changing market by launching two new bottled beers with weird names – “The Ridge” and “Broken Dial” (explanations on the website), in which they ramp up the hops enough to keep things interesting; the resulting beers remain, however, eminently well-balanced.

The Ridge is the pale beer – deep gold in colour, it has a woody, pungent hops aroma with just a touch of digestive biscuits. A deep, long-lasting bitterness, slightly medicinal like endives or dandelions, but so smooth with no harsh edges. The finish is long and satisfying.

Broken Dial is also very aromatic, old-school and new-wave at the same time with a tinge of best-bitter caramel and a long, resiny finish, though not excessively bitter. Horribly quaffable, this would make a great cask beer, I thought while I was drinking it – and what do you know, it’s coming out in cask too, so the brewery appears to agree. Actually, I think The Ridge would make a fine cask offering too.



Disclosure: Harviestoun sent me some samples of these beers. If you weren’t so lucky, I recommend you go and buy some with your own money. They are really very good.


1 comment:

  1. Had the Ridge on keg in London yesterday.Decent beer from a brewery that seems to have lost its way in the last couple of years.cheers john

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