Fyne Ales Blog

Introducing the Fyne Ales Farmhouse Project

by Chris Black

At Fyne Ales, our brewery is firmly based in a working farm location in Glen Fyne. That, and the wider Argyll setting has played a huge part in the development of our brewery, and has provided much of the inspiration behind our beers. Highlander, our first beer, was named after the herd of Highland cows we took delivery of in the very same week we started brewing; our IPA series was named after well known lighthouses scattered along the Argyll coastline; and Jarl is named in honour of the Norse and Viking heritage of Mid-Argyll and the Mull of Kintyre. With this new project we wanted to take things a step further and let the actual recipes of our beers be influenced by our surroundings and farmhouse location, and so the Fyne Ales Farmhouse Project was born. 

As one of the country’s only true farmhouse breweries, we are taking inspiration from traditional farmhouse styles from around the world, and will be introducing a modern twist on each brew. These beers will reflect the importance of the four seasons in Glen Fyne, and will reference the rich history of Argyll. The beers are inspired by four fictional characters from the glen and surrounding area; The Farmer, The Cailleach, The Merchant and The Hermit.

The Farmer represents spring and is the first in the series. This beer is brewed as the sun begins to warm the earth, and The Farmer turns his mind to the season ahead and the years first brew. In the grist, he uses what he has at his disposal after the winter, but like Spring his beer is fresh and nourishing, with elegant and refined aromas from the yeast.

The Cailleach brews the Summer beer. A wild witch cast off into the upper reaches of the mountains, she knows the secrets of living off the land, foraging for the wild herbs and spices that grow around her. Her beer is light and full of life, using the riches of the season to add depth and flavour to the beer.

The Merchant has been all over the world sourcing ingredients from its furthest reaches. He returns from his travels in the autumn, and makes use of the exotic hops and spices he has come across in the last year. His beers are strong and dark, balanced by a sharply acidic edge.

The Hermit spends his time in the glen in perfect isolation, reflecting on a lifetime of solitude. To stay warm through the long winter he brews an extra strong and dark beer, that is rich and malty. Sometimes he experiments with the different ingredients that he has preserved for the season. 

All of these beers will have their own small-batch spin offs; this might be barrel ageing, or the addition of new ingredients or yeasts. The series will evolve over the years to come, and will remain a permanent fixture of the Fyne Ales brew schedule. They will be available in limited quantities in 750ml champagne bottles, each with a unique hand drawn label by illustrator Gavin Dunbar, that depicts each character and their season. Gavin has worked tirelessly on these designs, giving our beers a unique look and feel that compliments the work of our Brewers. 

These beers are not to be missed, and are something truly special from Fyne Ales. Once gone, they will not return until the following year, when they will have evolved into a new take on the season and style.

We will very shortly announce how we plan to launch the first of these special beers at the brewery.

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New Beers for March

by Chris Black

Since the completion of our new brewery we have had lots of time and room in our brew plan to have some fun and create new beers. First up this year we had Clachan Dubh, which has been getting great reviews on social media so far: and there are only a few more of them left out there so catch it while you can. Coming up over the next month we have six cracking new special beers.

Sunset Boulevard – 5.6% American Pale Ale

It doesn’t really matter if it’s on the Pacific Ocean or on the Firth of Lorn: a sunset on a bright evening will always warm you up in some way. This beer has a nice orange sunset colour and American hops with bold citrus flavours that will take you on a drive down Sunset Boulevard. Look out for a mellow honey-like flavour from the malt that goes perfectly with the hops.  Sunset Boulevard is out in cask right now.

Fyne State – 4.7% British Pale Ale

Fyne State is a collaboration with one of our favourite pubs in Glasgow, The State Bar. The concept was dreamt up over a few pints one night between our brewer Stuart  and Jason from the State Bar. The beer is an all-British hopped pale ale with a stone fruit and apple nose. There is a caramelised orange flavour and a long crisp dry finish. The beer will be launched at The State on the 26th of February. Look out for a video of the brew made by Urban Croft Films which will be shown on the night.

Wheat Russian – 4.8% White Stout  - “A beer that really ties the room together.”

This is a beer that has been inspired by the White Russian cocktail. White Russians are the favourite drink of The Dude, the hero of The Big Lebowski movie: a smooth and lazy drink made with milk, vodka and Kahlua. This beer tries to reproduce that concept by building the same flavour notes and texture. The base beer is a white stout that uses lots of wheat and flaked barley to build a smooth body in the beer. To that we have added coffee, Cocoa nibs and vanilla. The resulting beer is something a bit special and a little different. Wheat Russian will be sold in cask and will be launched at The Southern Bar in Edinburgh on the 5th of March.  

In the past few months we have been lucky enough to collaborate with two of the top breweries in the world, Siren and De Molen - in fact both featured in the Rate Beer Top 100 Breweries list. These collabs are a great opportunity for an exchange of ideas and knowledge between both breweries, not to mention an excellent excuse to have some fun and brew something a bit different.

Siren Collab - Saudade – 3.2% Berliner Weisse

First up we collaborated with Siren - from Finchamstead in England - on not one but two beers, with Ryan from Siren coming up to our brewery to work on both.  We wanted to learn from Ryan’s experience in brewing sour beers in the past, so decided to brew a Berliner Weisse. This is a refreshing, slightly sour beer style that originates from Berlin. The beer has a light straw colour with an aroma of exotic fruits and a tart lemon taste. This beer is super-refreshing and will have you pining for summer! The name Saudade is the Brazilian word for ‘homesick’ and missing the good times - as we’re in the depths of winter here in Argyll we thought it was fitting.  Saudade will be available in keg only.

Siren Collab –  Wee Milky Way – 3.1% Milk Black IPA

Beer number two with Ryan from Siren was an experiment in how much flavour and body we could fit into a low ABV beer: extreme on both counts! The style is a low ABV Black IPA with added lactose. The beer has a mountain of hops in it with a big body and smooth mouthfeel from the lactose, and the malt gives the beer a slight liquorice edge. So, it’s extremely extreme, but as easy-drinking as a glass of milk! Wee Milky Way will be available in cask and keg.

Both Siren collabs will be launched at The Southampton Arms in London on Thursday 12th March, and will then be launched in Scotland at the Great Scottish Beer Celebration in Glasgow on Friday 13th and 14th March.

De Molen Collab –Mills & Hills – 9.5% Imperial Stout

Back in November our friends at De Molen in The Netherlands made the journey over to Scotland to brew our strongest beer to date. De Molen are renowned for brewing big world beating stouts, and we felt that it was fitting that we brew one together on our new kit. This beer was all about seeing how far we could push our new kit on ABV and IBUs. The result is a 9.5% Imperial Stout that is a modern take on a classic style:  bold new world hops such as Sorachi Ace and Calypso add a unique dimension to the rich meaty body of the beer. We are also doing a wee barrel ageing experiment with this one and have left some to age in a Grappa barrel with some brettanomyces for a few months. Watch this space…..

Mills and Hills is available in 330ml bottle now.

All of these beers will be available alongside around 150 other at our festival, Fyne Fest, in June. Earl bird tickets are now on sale now.

Let us know what you think of each of these beers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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New Beer - Clachan Dubh

by Chris Black

So it's pretty freezing outside and the weather isn't showing many signs of warming up, so must be stout time! This is the first new beer this year, there are many more to come, and it was brewed by Gordon who is the newest member of our brewing team. 

This new seasonal beer was brewed in our small brew-house, where our creativity can run riot now our shiny new 40 barrel brewery is up-and-running­.  Clachan Dubh (Gaelic for dark village) is a mellow, easy drinking stout with spicy hop flavour and zesty aromatic edge.

In addition to our house base malt – low colour Maris Otter – we’ve added a decent quantity of Munich malt for extra malt complexity and dark crystal (240).  No stout is complete without some roast character, which comes from Chocolate malt, Roasted Barley and some Brown malt to give its distinct bread-crust flavour and characteristic dryness in the finish.  Oat malt and Flaked Barley give the beer a silky mouth feel and extra body.

Our burgeoning hop selection presented ample options for a classic stout.  The final selection was transatlantic in nature.  Pioneer (UK) was selected exclusively for bittering due to its mild mannered nature with a proportion added at first wort.  Aroma hops: Mount Hood (US), for its herbal spiciness; Bramling Cross (UK) for its berry like flavour and spiciness; and judicious use of Bullion (US) for a zesty aromatic edge.

Our water supply, which runs off the glen above our breweries (how good is that – free water!), is very, very soft.  The mineral content is virtually non-existent. This is brilliant for brewing pale ales but is a bit of a challenge for brewing dark beers.  Gordon dabbled with our water treatment to shift the flavour emphasis toward a mellower roasted-malt flavour.

Look out for Clachan Dubh hitting bars this week in cask and let us know what you think.

Happy drinking!

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