Thursday, 21 July 2016

Drinking in the Sudreys - the ales of Jura and Colonsay

Hello again,

         the two islands named above are easily reached from Islay, and we visited both during our 5 days on the island. In terms of size comparison both are minuscule next to Islay or Bute - Colonsay has a permanent population of just 135 (according to the island's website). Its also the smallest, being just 10 miles long and 2 miles wide. Jura on the other hand is significantly bigger, although probably with a similar number of inhabitants. (188 in 2001). It does however have a distillery, whilst Colonsay has a brewery.

The trip to Jura from Port Askaig is quite short and soon we were on the long winding the end of the island. After miles of rugged coastline and moorland the first, and indeed only large place you come to is Craighouse, found on the A846, the only A road i have ever seen with grass down the middle, and passing places. Here is where the distillery is, and also the Isle of Jura Hotel.

Finding the bar is interesting as you need to walk through the back of the bar from the main entrance to reach it - I think there is another way in round the front. No real ale but an interesting range of kegs - along with the Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted they also had Drygate Gladeye IPA on at 5.5%. Despite continuous expansion and improvement in Scottish beer, am still surprised to find a really hoppy Scottish IPA - and this is it. We also got a bottle of their Red IPA to take away.

The bar was friendly and well stocked and the IPA was excellent - this was in fact one of the best bars we visited on the whole tour. That Jura is so sparsely populated, yet has such riches in terms of drinks, is worth celebrating.

Colonsay is further away from Islay and the ferry was packed on what was the hottest day of the holiday.  Arriving before the bar of the Colonsay Hotel opened - the only place to drink on the island bar the brewery,  we set off on a long tour of every road on the island, driving to Uragaig and the beautiful Kiloran beach (and meeting Walter and his dog Queenie) before returning to the hotel via the Colonsay Brewery.

I have to say I was a little disappointed by the brewery - they only had two beers from their range of three available in bottles or on keg at the hotel, and are only open 15-17.00. I do realise however that running a brewery on such a tiny island makes comparisons with  mainland breweries fairly pointless.  At the Isle of Colonay Hotel beer is expensive. Two pints of Colonsay IPA for me and Matty cost about £10.60 and the other beer, a Fyne Ales Haus lager, was £4.90 a pint if memory serves. Once again though, island life is different. And in this case, significantly more expensive.

Overall both islands were unique - Jura is rugged and barren in places, Colonsay is a haven for wildlife, and Jura had an excellent hotel. Both islands are very much well worth a visit.


Wee Beefy

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