This is an unusual offering from William Bros, brewed in an ancient Scottish style that uses pine needles in place of hops. This brew was reviewed with one of my good mates, and my favourite bartender, Giles Tuffin.
This is definitely one of the more unusual brews we had the time to review. In fact, the William Bros Brewing Company is dedicated to reviving historic Scottish ale styles – and they do a very good job of it. Pine ales are brewed by adding young, green needles from various coniferous plants as you would hops to an ‘ordinary’ brew. The brewers’ website notes: “introduced by the Vikings, spruce and pine ales were very popular in Northern Scotland until the end of the 19th Century”. This lightly cloudy, deep golden ale has the colour of pine resin, and a reasonable straw-coloured head. It is rich and lightly citrus-scented on the nose, with the characters of a Belgian ‘tripel’ style immediately notable. There is a little pine at the forefront of the palate, but it is much less pronounced than we expected. In fact, the beer was very well balanced in general, and the lightly resinous taste quickly turns to peach, honey, and a light rancio character such as you might find in a good Tokay. It tastes lighter than its ABV would suggest.
Nic: Another surprising and satisfying Ale from Williams Bros. Its resinous notes and full flavour profile combine to make it a unique and particularly enjoyable brew. A perfect accompaniment to game birds and other wildfoods.
Simon: Combine an interesting, almost confronting aroma with well-balanced and surprising taste characteristics, and you’re left with a very different, but definitely tasty beer. Appreciated.
Giles: One of the most interesting and complex beers I’ve had in some time, highlighted by its generous and lengthy mouthfeel.
Packaging: Historical Scottish look.
Serve with: Game birds, wildfoods, hard aromatic cheeses.
Drink this if you like: ???
Update 12/12/2011: Thanks to a reader for pointing out Wigram Brewing Co.’s Spruce Beer, which was apparently inspired by an original spruce beer brewed by Captain Cook during his voyages in the South Pacific. Apparently this was issued in an attempt to combat scurvy.