Tag Archives: Scotland

Day 5 – Inveralmond – De Mons Belgian Abbey

Yesterday was a fun day. The beer was quite delicious and my daughter got her first picture taken with Santa Claus. Being only one month old, she doesn’t really understand what or who he is. Still, she looked at him with an interest and intent that assures me she’s already considering what she might ask him for when she is ready to talk.

I’m looking forward to trying Day 5’s beer. It’s a Belgian Abbey style beer called De Mons from Inveralmond Brewery in Perth, Scotland, UK. It’s not even the first time I’ve had a beer from them. Last year, Day 13 was a beer from this same brewery.

The name Inveralmond may sound familiar to some folks. In 2016, Inveralmond was purchased by Innis and Gunn in 2016. Innis and Gunn had been considering building a brand-new brewery in Southeast Scotland, but with this purchase they decided to invest the money into this existing brewery. Let’s get into this in a minute.

Let’s go back to its founding in 1997 by Fergus Clark had a grand opening in Perth including the gates of the brewery being drawn open by a pair of Clysdale horses, the traditional draught horses used for transporting beer in the olden days. In November 1999 the brewery hired it’s first master brewer, Ken Duncan who brought with him a penchant for signing opera and smuggling yeast from the Czech republic.  By 2002 they had won their first gold for their beer Ossian, and over the next two years continued to grow adding new staff as their beer became more in demand.

By 2009 they had outgrown their original location and broke ground on the construction of a brand-new brewery. This allowed them to increase their capacity and to do their very first 30-barrel brew, Lia Fail,  on their new 30 barrel brew house. They continued to grow over the years increasing their fermentation capacity to 120 barrels and adding new brewers and tanks. By the time, Innis and Gunn purchased them they had added several new beers and started the “inspiration series” of which we are tasting the second brew.

When purchased by Innis and Gunn it had been touted as a move of mutual respect. The two breweries had been long time friends and the team at Inveralmond was not in any way impacted. While I’m not a huge fan of all of Innis and Gunn’s beers, this is a bit of a different situation from Anheuser Busch. Innis and Gunn is an independent brewery who has acquired another brewery to expand their beer line. Whatever you may think of the move, you can read more about it here or here.

The style of beer we have today requires a bit of an explanation as well. It is called a Belgian Abbey which is the term used for a Trappist beer that is not brewed under the supervision of a Trappist monk. Trappist products are protected in the same was as Champagne or Port in that to use the name they must meet certain criteria.

The most important criteria to be met is that the beers must be brewed under the supervision of a Trappist Monk. When this is not possible, the beers are not able to carry this moniker. As such, many breweries adopted using the term “Abbey beers” to describe a beer brewed in this style but not under the required supervision. You can read more about Trappist beers, and see the list of official Trappist breweries, here.

This beer is brewed in the style of a Belgian Blond Ale. These beers are moderate strength golden ales with a mild fruit and spice note from the Belgian yeast with a slightly sweet malty flavour and a dry finish. These are a relatively recent beer style that was made to further appeal to European Pilsner drinkers and has become much more popular.  These beers are similar in strength as a Dubbel, similar character as a Belgian Strong Golden Ale or Tripel, although a bit sweeter and not as bitter.

Appearance – Pale Golden and clear. Very thin white head that fades quickly leaving only slight bubbling on edge of glass.
Smell –  Mildly sweet fruity aroma of figs, raisins, plums, a spicy peppery note, and some candied sugar.
Taste –  Belgian yeast, spicy with hints of fig and raisins, bready malt, with a good helping of malty sweetness.
Mouth feel
– Good medium body and carbonation with a semi-sweet fruity finish that lingers well after swallowing.
Overall – An easy drinking flavourful Belgian blond ale. With the light hop bitterness and subtle yeast characteristics it still provides a nice spiciness to it along with a good malty sweetness that is reminiscent of honey or candied sugar.
Do I like it?
– Yes, I did. I quite like these beers. I find the malt component with the hop and spice from the yeast bring a nice balance. They are easy to drink and flavourful.


Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 13

Beer 13

So begins the second half of the CraftBeer advent calendar.  The first half of it was rather good.  As a recap on the countries we have visited so far we have: Norway, Finland, England, United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, Iceland, Brazil, and the United States.  So, thus far we have visited 11 unique countries on 4 different continents!

Today’s beer takes us back to the United Kingdom, this time to Perth in Scotland!  Perth is located to the north of Edinburgh, 42.8 miles away and within the city we will find the brewery who has made us our beer today – the Inveralmond Brewery.

Founded in 1997, this brewery has certainly made a name for itself in Scotland.  The head brewer, Ken, officially joined the brewery in 1999.  A year later he smuggled some yeast to Scotland from the Czech Republic giving the brewery the claim of having the only “official” Czech Pilsner in Scotland.  In 2002, they won Champion Beer of Scotland, no easy task, and continued to grow from that point on.

In 2009 they had grown too big for their original space and laid the ground work to build their brand new brewery.  They moved into the new brewery in 2011 and have continued to expand their production from brewing 8000 pints at a time to now brewing over 32000 pints at any given time. When their local team, St. Johnstone, made it to the Scottish cup for the first time in 130 years, they brewed a special blue beer to show their support.  They are truly a Scottish brewery through and through.

The beer we have the pleasure of tasting from them today is their Blackfriar Scotch Ale.  It’s named for one of the three ancient orders of monks who are central to the history of Perth.  The monastery of the Blackfriar was built in 1231 and was the location of the assassination of King James I by traitors.

Scotch Ales are strong ales which are traditionally known as a “wee heavy” in Scotland. Scotch ales are typically very malty and balanced with hops to land somewhere in the middle ground between sweet and bitter.  This particular beer has been brewed with not only barley malts but also wheat which will give it a heavier, creamier feel.  Balancing with four different kinds of hops this brew promises to have a number of flavor notes and I’m excited to see what it tastes like.

Rating: 78/100

Appearance:  Copper brown beer, clear, 1” of head that retains well.
Smell: Chocolate notes as well as the floral notes of hops.  Smells a bit of caramel as well at the very end.
Taste: Malts come through at the beginning with a creaminess that comes from the wheat malt.  Balances really well with the hops providing a mild bitterness to combat the sweetness of the malts.  Flavours of chocolate come through from the chocolate malt used in the beer.
Overall: Creaminess is really pleasant and goes well with the richness of the malts and the balance of the hops.  This beer has flavours that work well together with the specific body of it and I really found that I was enjoying the beer while drinking it.   The use of wheat and barley malts was really smart and added a lot of character to the beer.
Do I like it: I’m not a huge fan of this style of beer. While I wouldn’t necessarily seek this one out at the liquor store, I did enjoy it and would be happy to drink it given another opportunity.  I feel the hops came through really well to balance the sweetness.  Overall, a beer I really enjoyed.