My beer fridge only had one beer left, this needed to be rectified immediately. I was doing the weekly grocery shop in a nearby supermarket, but upon reaching the beer section, I set the full basket aside for a moment. Looking at the shelves, I predict I’ve sampled approximately 80% of the current stock and was finding it difficult to locate new, untried beers. This made me start to worry slightly; however, a potential disaster was averted, and I found one – furthest right on the middle shelf, with the bottle label turned facing away from me! I turned it around and noticed 4 lines of soft text flowing across the front of the bottle:
“A potent Liquor as brewed
by the Laird in the ancient
Brew House of the Oldest
inhabited House in Scotland.”
Traquair House Brewery operates out of Traquair House (based in Peeblesshire, Scotland). Traquair House dates back to 1107, making it Scotland’s oldest inhabited house; as such, it has a rich history, including playing host to Mary Queen of Scots (it was originally a royal hunting lodge). The brewery itself is in a wing of the house that lies directly underneath a Chapel. It is approximately 300 years old and initially brewed alcohol to serve for the house and the estate. Over time its function ceased, and the space was instead used for storage purposes. Approximately 50 years ago however, the brewery was rediscovered, and Peter Maxwell Stuart decided to resume brewing with all the original equipment!
Enough of a history lesson – time for the drink details!
This kind of beer is generally known as an ale or a bitter, but locally, in Scotland, it is termed as a “Wee Heavy”… In a way, this is almost an oxymoron as this little beer packed a strong ABV of 7.2%. The beer itself poured dark, much darker than I was expecting, and no head was formed on the surface. A deep maltiness came through in the aromas; between this and the dark colour, I was anticipating a very bitter ale. Consequently, I was genuinely surprised when the bitterness failed to come through on tasting. The beer begins with flavours reminiscent of dark fruits, before transforming into soft toffee notes. A clean, fresh taste fades in after this, which cleanses the palate by removing the previous flavours mentioned.
Rating: 2.75/5, Traquair House Ale was nothing like I was expecting. I thought, on pouring, this was going to be deep, bitter and lacking complexity. It isn’t a beer that I would rush back to, but this has certainly increased my interest in trying some of their other brews, including ‘Jacobite’ and ‘Spring’ Ales. Not to mention, I love a brewery with a good story behind it. I guess it’s true what they say; you should never judge based on appearances!