Sunday, 1 July 2012

Old Worthy Brewery, Old Worthy Scottish Pale Ale


    I have been lucky enough to receive a bottle of a beer from a new brewery, currently brewing on a contractor plant until they can get their own plant up and running on the Isle of Skye - their address is in Uig on the bottle, but am unsure exactly where their own brewery is intended to be located.

Looking around on social media it seems O.W have been in existence for sometime, certainly in terms of brewing and trialling beers and getting out there to publicise and market it. They have targetted sales in Finland and Sweden and have been busy sending out samples in the post to beer writers and stockists in the UK, prior to their official launch in August.

If you want more info about the brewery and its ethos their website is up and running but not fully  finished, so I suggest your best bet is to sign up at their website so they can send you some info. Nick at the brewery certainly seems happy to talk about his product, and the relationship between whisky and beer. You can also find them on Facebook here or on Twitter here .

These are the details of what I found when I tried my botttle earlier:

Brewery : Old Worthy Brewing Co. Limited
Name : Old Worthy Scottish Pale Ale
Strength : 5.0%
BCA/none BCA? : none BCA.
Purchased : Sent by the brewery.

Colour : gold, not as light as I would expect, with a hint of Pilsner Urquell in its appearance.

Carbonation/Pouring : Loud fizz on opening - pours well leaving a goodly head at the top.

Aroma : Not as strong as I expected, given the ingredients, but smoky malt predominates, with a strange salty hint.

Taste : Wow! -  a good start with lots of smoke, malt, whisky and whether or not I'm tasting it because I know its an ingredient, but there is peated malt. Its actually quite an alcoholic flavour, but I think that is a trick of the brain, telling me that if it smells and tastes of whisky (and it does, but not overly so) it must be as strong.

A hint of honey is noticable in the second mouthful, mellowing the smoky peat slightly, and there are other lighter malt flavours, perhaps because of the pale malts used. There is even a taste that somehow reminds me of sea air, which I am puzzled by, but overwhelmingly its that peat and malt which stands out.

Interestingly, for a pale ale, there doesn't appear to be much hops. Its bitter, yes, but it seems more down to the smoked flavours. As you continue drinking the whisky notes recede slightly and the beer takes on the flavours of a more malty pale bitter, but it never loses that edge.

The peated malt, whch comes from the Ardmore distillery, is the stand out characteristic, and having initially been quite alarmed to see both honey and wheat in the mix on the bottle label I think both of these ingredients are in there to tame and compliment the assertive peat flavours. I think without the slight sweetness of the honey and the refreshing benefits of the wheat the beer may have been too harsh.

I tried a pure liquer from Kilchoman distillery that had the addition of hedgerow fruits, and the balance of the inredibly strong alcoholic kick of the spirit and the sharp and sweet fruits is a clever mix. So it seems that peat needs sweeter softer flavours to mellow it out a little.

Head retention - good, it follows the beer down the glass before breaking into islands after about 15 minutes, having started full and billowy on pouring.

WBrating : 7.0
I like the fact that this is a bold flavoured beer and an interesting concept. Its not a whisky beer, its a beer made with complimentary ingredients from the whisky making process. It loses marks slightly for requiring a bit more hops, not that it needs loads, but there is quite a dry aftertaste which perhaps a full on warm fruity hop might remove, as it doesn't help the peat. Its certainley distinctive however, and the initial taste is impressive.

I'd like to try a dark beer made the same way, I think that whisky cask aged stouts seem to work well so it follows that this approacjh would suit a porter or stout, and I think one interesting thing I noticed was that it would make an ideal gateway beer to a stronger brew. If you were tasting a few 4 - 5% beers and wanted to move onto something hefty I think this is strong flavoured enough to allow you to jump a few percent and go straight for a really strong beer.

Ultimately, I want to see it in cask - roll on August 2012 I say.

Wee Beefy


  1. Sounds pretty good, looking forward to trying it. Peat-smoked beers are a tough balancing act, sounds like this one is pretty much there - agree that a peated malt porter would be a great idea, as well

    1. Yeah, it was quite difficult to put across what I was trying to describe because the peat smoked malt was the predominant flavour; I kept lapsing between peated malt and whisky in the descriptoin, because those were the flavours I was reminded of. I would certainly buy it again, but more so a dark version. Cask would be fab I think...