Even though Hops were discovered in Bavaria during the 8th century, it took until the 16th Century for them to arrive in Kent. Hops quickly took hold as the main flavour, preservative, and bittering agent in British beer, and are the reason we call bitter bitter. Before this, all manner of herbs and spices were used to balance the sweet character of the malty beers.
Long before the discovery of hops, heather was used in ale, since, it is estimated, as ong ago as 2000 BC in Scotland. Some historians, perhaps a little romantically, ascribe the Picts’ firm defence of Northern Scotland against The Romans to Heather Ale, and the psychotropic qualities it would have had on Pictish warriors.
The Williams Bros of Alloa recently embarked on a journey to reinvent this beer style, in the form of their Fraoch Ale. Wisely, they made sure to wash off the psychoactive fungus that covers Scottish heather.
William Bros have deservedly earned a great reputation, not to mention a long list of awards on the back of Heather Ale and now produce a brave range of beers flavoured with produce such as elderberries, gooseberries, the shoots of Scots pine, and seaweed.
Their beers are great and we look forward to sharing their bottled beers with customers of Mason & Taylor. Expect more surprises from Alloa…