Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a cracking Christmas and that the New Year was brought in with a glass of something refreshing in your hand.
I had a Fyne festive period. Fyne because for a great part of it I was nursing in my hand a pint or two poured from the mini casks of one of my favourite Scottish, if not British Brewery : Fyne Ales.
It's been on the go almost a decade now and in that space of time Fyne Ales Brewery is now regarded by many as bywords for consistently tasty and delightfully refreshing beers. Who am I to disagree?
What they do, they do very well. What they brew, they brew very well.
Their beer range includes such crackers as Avalanche, Hurricane Jack, Vital Spark, Highlander, Piper's Gold and Maverick. This year they have produced and introduced to a very receptive beer market some stand out and outstanding beers such as Jarl, Kelly Ryan collaboration Fynbridge Black IPA and their 6.8% Sublime Stout.
Fyne Ales' Jarl first made it's appearance at the Fyne Ales beer festival in June and it went down an absolute storm, tingling the taste buds and knocking the socks off everyone that tried it. Drinkers knew after one taste of Jarl that what they were experience was something rather special. It's full of luscious tropical fruit and lively lemon citrus flavour.
It next resurfaced at the GBBF at Earl's Court in August and again the result was the same. Word of mouth spread through the hall and it quickly resonated with the same questions and statements - "Have you tried Jarl, yet?", "Oh, you must try Jarl." For many, myself included, it was one of the head and shoulders stand out beery highlights of the festival. Some might even say a worthy and serious contender for 2011 Champion Beer of Scotland, if not Britain.
Whenever, wherever Jarl appeared it flew out the pumps. So much so that Fyne have decided to carry it as one of their regular beers and it will also be available in bottles. Good move, Fyne Ales. With beer this good there is no point in hiding it away and only producing it intermittently.
Fyne were also at the forefront in the growing and positive trend of brewery and brewer collaboration with a joint brewing venture between themselves and former Thornbridge brewer Kelly Ryan with the creation of a Centennial, Citra, Perle and Amarillo hopped 5.9% Black IPA that effectively had Glasgow Beer
Calling a beer 'Sublime Stout' is making yourself a hostage to beer fortune. If it doesn't live up to it's name then it becomes an easy target but Fyne needn't have worried as it is a worthy moniker. It is a 6.8% beer that is effortlessly drinkable and deliciously, if not dangerously, moreish. It tastes quite similar to the Black IPA but with the addition of, initially, liquorise notes that subside to a gentle chocolate sweetness. It's another cracking beer from Fyne.
If 2010 is anything to go by, then the year ahead promises to be an exciting and rewarding one for Fyne Ales. More people will get to taste, savour and enjoy the beers from this superb brewery.
In my book, that can only be a good thing.