Saturday, 12 January 2013

The West Brewery

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, Glasgow has a massive beer and pub culture. Scottish ale’s feature heavily in many places as well as well as many local lagers. One company that is beginning to break into the Scottish market (and with huge success) is the West Brewing Company.  I’d heard about West from a few of the locals. This little microbrewery is within walking distance from where we live, so I’m surprised I’d not heard of it until now. So one afternoon, Cara and I decided to take a walk down the road and check out the range of West beers, which seem to have everyone raving. 

The West Brewery Company was only founded in 2006. Their aim was to create the best boutique beer in the UK. West brewers have drawn on inspiration from German beers and brewing styles. They even went as far as importing the copper chimneys and brewing control systems from Germany. The end result… West Brewery is one of the most technologically advanced microbreweries in the UK.  West are also one of the few breweries that run a “Low emission recycling system”, which allows them to recycle the steam produced and convert it to water which can be used on the next brewing cycle. 

West produces 6 distinctive German style beers; all made using traditional German recipes. In fact, West is first brewery in the UK to produce beer following the “Reinheltsgebot Law”, which translates to the “German Purity Law” of brewing.  The signature of the 6 beers is the “St Mungo “ which (in their words is, “A homage to Glasgow’s patron saint and fellow brewer”.  The St Mungo is what we ordered on our visit to West. This was a good choice. I’m not a big fan of some German style beers; I find them to be too heavy. After drinking just one, I’ve often felt like I’ve had a three course meal.  The St Mungo however, is lighter. It still has those distinctive malt and hop flavours, which are synonymous with German beers, but it’s not to over powering.  As I finished my first pint of St Mungo, I could have easily have ordered another… So I did. 

West offer many other beers for you to choose from, such as Dunkel, a special beer that is brewed using 5 different types of malts. Another is, Munich Red, which is a little sweeter, taking on a more caramel like taste. There is the Hefeweizen, which is the more traditional German beer. There is also the Oktoberfest brew, which is made with only German sourced hops and barley.  Lastly is the limited edition, Weihnachtsbier, which is a brew that is only sold during Christmas time. The qualities of this festive beer change every year as a new recipe is written every Christmas. 

Microbreweries seem to be getting more popular around the world. Despite West Brewery only being a young company, they’ve already managed to stock their signature, “St Mungo” in many different pubs all over Glasgow. Which says that the company can only keep growing. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy Hogmanay!!!

Happy New Year!!!  Or as the Scot’s say Happy Hogmanay!!   Cara and I had never heard of this “Hogmanay" stuff before, so in the lead up to new years eve, we were both confused as to what the locals were talking about. 

We eventually learnt that the term “Hogmanay”, is the Scottish word for the last day of the year. It is also common in Scotland for the new years party to go on long after the clock strikes 12. In fact, Hogmanay is celebrated well into new years day, sometimes it can even go on until the 2nd January (which is a Scottish public holiday).  Hogmanay has many local customs. Many are a just a myth, however some of the more common customs require you to have a nip of whisky at midnight. Another custom, requires you to allow the first person who knocks on your door after midnight, into your house and offer them whisky, no matter if they are strangers or not. I don’t know how stringently people stick to these customs, But most of them involve some kind of consumption of scotch.

This was also a good time for Cara and I to reflect on the last year and remind ourselves of all the places we’ve been and the sights we’ve seen. It’s been truly unforgettable. This year we’ve set foot in 8 different countries. We’ve seen some amazing sights, eaten some delicious food and drunk quite a few great cocktails. Next year is going to be even more exciting as we start to wrap up our world tour and head home to Australia.

Cara had got me another little present for christmas, which I was saving for the Hogmanay celebrations. A small bottle of Lagavulin 16 yr old scotch. I’d heard great reviews about Lagavulin, so I was looking forward to giving this a try.  Something I’ve done a lot of since living in Scotland is broaden my whisky palette and Lagavulin whisky can certainly help me broaden it ever further. This deep amber whisky has bold flavours. On the nose it has a strong smokey smell. A flavour, which translates to the mouth. This is a malt that you need to sip slowly as its smokey, peppery taste gives you an explosion of flavour. Some people have said that this scotch is too strong. I can understand why many critics think this. It’s full body taste, can get over powering. I however, didn’t mind it. I get the impression that Lagavulin is what real scotch drinkers would drink. It has that “If you can drink this, you’re a real Scot” connotations. I may be wrong.

Last year we saw in the New Year in a packed out Trafalgar Square in London. This year it was a little more mellow, but still no less special.  Despite this trip slowly coming to an end, the last 4 months is going to be jam-packed. It's exciting stuff!!!