Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Drinking in the Sudreys - the ales of Bute


       apologies first of all for a distinct lack of posts recently - a mixture of self imposed poverty and heady discombobulation through drink, as well as the holiday I will describe in this and the following three posts, has made me unable, unwilling and otherwise disposed not to post anything since June. What follows is an island by island breakdown of the ales we drank in the places known as the Sudreys - in this case, Bute, Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Arran. I realise there are other isles in the Sudreys but we visited the above only. For information, the Sudreys is an old Norse word for the Southern Scottish Islands, as opposed to the Nordreys for the North. There is a link here featuring more precise info on the Sudrejar...

We headed to Bute in rain and wind - the sun only came out on our first stop in Moffat. Here the Coachmans bar of the Buccleuch hotel no longer sells real ale only GK "craft" but the guy behind the bar did recommend two pubs that did, the first being the Star Bar which we were parked nearby. The Hotel Star is a tall, long, thin building on the main street. The bar is accessed down the side street and is also long and thin, although it goes across the building. They have two real ales on sale - the Old Speckled and the Old Golden Hen. We had two halves of each for myself, Wee Fatha, Tash and Matty. We also tried the 80 and 60 shilling Belhaven kegs.The Old Golden Hen was perhaps the best beer.

Our next stop was the National Inventory listed Old Wine Store at Shotts. The pub has had a new sign and some refurbishment since we last visited, but crucially keeps its original bar fitting with once used whisky barrels inset, and a small mirror on the other side which owing to its difficulty to find and photograph am guessing was for the staff only. No real ale here, but halves of Belhaven best for all apart from WF who had a J2o. Its good to see the pub popular and having had some work done on it, without losing its character.

Skirting Glasgow we arrived at Wemys Bay and opposite the delightful station we boarded a ferry to Rothesay. Going across the weather looked ominous but we arrived on Bute in glorious sunshine and temperatures around 20 degrees. We stayed at the Commodore, an excellent seafront B and B and quickly headed out to find food - we did, at a real ale pub in the GBG.

The Black Bull is a small multi-roomed pub overlooking the harbour near one of Zavaroni's cafes. They had three beers on, Belhaven Golden Bay, Inveralmond Lia Fail and Straad Ass, a 4.2% amber/blonde from Bute Brew Co. This was a fine pint on excellent form so we didn't try the other ales on offer, we just drank the Bute all night. We also ate here - and myself and Matty had perhaps the finest home made steak and ale pie ever. An absolutely stunning flavour, and washed down with the excellent Bute real ale.

Before returning to the B and B we visited the Scottish regional inventory listed Golfers bar - sporting a Bute Brew Co sign outside and a single hand pump. selling the same beer as the Black Bull. Myself and Matty had at least two pints each in here with WF on a half and Tash on wine - she has developed a bit or a reaction to beer (and cider) of late so was reluctant to have more than a try. The Golfers was heaving busy and we sat in the separate snug at the end with access to the bar. The pub has an excellent ceiling and intact long single piece bar back, as well as this screened off room, meriting its inclusion on the inventory.

The next day we visited Rothesay castle whilst WF went to the Esplanade - which also sells real ale, but only Bombardier alas. From here we drove through Port Bannatyne and out to Loch Ettrick, then wound our way down the island to St Blaines church. Despite persisting it down with rain we enjoyed the walk up the hill and looking around, before we headed to the Kingarth Hotel and Smiddy bar.

This roadside hotel does good food and two real ales as well as a good range of whiskies and Scottish bottled beers. WF had a half of Arran Dark and myself and Matty a pint each of the Fyne Ales Jarl, one of the best beers in Scotland - it did not disappoint. The food looked lovely so we booked a table for four and returned to Rothesay to pick up a change of clothes, and then came back for a fantastic meal, along with more Jarl. I think they also have a third pump for cask, and we tried three whiskys as well.

Back into Rothesay we persuaded Wee Fatha to drive us to Port Bannatyne to the Bute Brew Co recommended Port Inn. Arriving at 22.15 the landlady was about to shut so we ordered two pints of the Bute brew Co Scalpsie Blonde at 3.9%. It turned out that the pub would remain open a little longer, although we had to leave by 23.30 to get back to the accommodation - we had no key to get in! Many pints were supped as well as a can of BrewDog Dead Pony Ale (I think) before we dashed off up the coast back to Rothesay. The Scalpsie was an excellent session ale.

The next day we were away from Bute on the ferry and that part of the journey, and Islay, will feature in the next blog post.


Wee Beefy

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