Beer and Haggis – Beer Warrior visits the Scottish Highlands.

When a friend asked me why we were going on holiday to Glencoe I was a little nonplussed. The answer I gave was true but incomplete. We stopped off at the Clachaig Inn for a drink on a previous visit to Scotland and made a big mental note to return one day. That day had arrived.

Now that the holiday is over I have several more reasons to add to the list. Glencoe is absolutely fantastic with its stunning dramatic scenery and was voted as the best drive in Britain. The Clachaig Inn has been voted best Outdoors Pub in Britain and is a previous CAMRA Pub of the Year winner.

The other reasons are: Black Sheep Bitter (3.8%), Aviemore Highlander IPA (3.6%), Houston Teuchter (4.8%), Tomintoul Wildcat (5.1%), Caledonian 80/- (4.1%), Heather Ale Kelpie (4.4%), Tetley Bitter (3.7%), Ind Coupe Burton Ale (4.8%), Orkney Raven Ale (3.2%), Houston Killellan (3.7%), Banks & Taylor In the Mood (4.3%), Heather Ale Fraoch (4.1%), The An Teallach Ale Co. An Teallach (4.2%) and Atlas Latitude (3.6%). These were the beers that were on during our stay usually over five to eight hand pumps, and all served in excellent condition.

While staying at the Clachaig you are encouraged to visit its sister pub, The Grog & Gruel in Fort William. We didnt need much encouraging. An excellent meal and several lunchtime beers made for a very satisfactory visit to this establishment. On offer here were: The An Teallach Ale Co. An Teallach, Houston Texas, Killellan and Crystal and Aviemore Highlander IPA.

A little further afield (but we were going there anyway) is the Sligachan Inn on Skye. This is the Isle of Skyes equivalent of the Clachaig Inn. We werent very impressed with the bar bit of a holiday camp feel about it. The beers were well served though and six of the eight hand pumps were in use: Crystal, St. Peters Well, Texas and Killellan from Houston, Blaven from Isle of Skye Brewery and Orkney Dark Island.

What the place lacks in character is made up for in its location. Right outside the door there are Lochs and Mountains including
the famous Black Cuillin.

Real ale is alive and well in Scotland. Whilst enjoying our session at the Grog & Gruel I picked up a copy of the local CAMRA newsletter, produced by the Inverness and Highland branch. Its called Whats Yours Then? and one of the articles provided me with some interesting facts and figures. Apparently the 1992 edition of the Good Beer Guide listed only eight Scottish independent breweries. In the 2002 guide there are twenty one with two of the original eight having gone now. This doesnt include some brewpubs or the very newest Breweries such as Fyne Ales, Atlas, Kelburn and Stornaway.

The weather was perhaps the only disappointment of the week but we did manage to climb Ben Nevis and the Pap of Glencoe. There are many other Mountains for us to conquer and many more pubs and breweries to visit so I have a feeling that there will be plenty of holidays in Scotland in the future.

Beer Warrior in Glencoe was Bobcat

October ’02