Having finished up some gruelling night shifts, I knew that this was going to be a good weekend for sampling new beers; I most certainly felt as though I had earned them! After my last night shift I went to a local supermarket – as I got there before 10am, licensing laws prevent sales of alcohol before this time. As a result, I picked up the various groceries I required and hovered among the aisles with my basket in one hand and impatiently watching the clock on my phone in the other! All I wanted was to get into bed for a few hours’ sleep and I knew that once I got home I was certainly not going back out into the real world until I had recovered from my manic night shifts.
The alcohol section was finally opened, allowing me to head straight for the beer (surprise surprise)! I looked around for some new beers and then found two side by side. The design on these bottles was simple, but striking, hence why they stood out among the line-up. The first bottle was green and the second yellow. I noticed a wave-like pattern on the labels and continued to examine it for further details. These beers were from Loch Ness Brewery; one that I had never heard of before. I picked up both varieties – a session pale ale and an IPA.
I got to the checkout and had the sudden dreaded feeling that I didn’t have my ID on me. I’ve got to stop doing this – see Fallen Brewing for a similar situation. With the ease of Apple and Android Pay applications, going out without your credit/debit card is an increasing occurrence in today’s world. I got to the checkout – trying to look for a cashier that was a similar age to myself – with the hope that I would less likely be asked for proof of age. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be the case. I placed the groceries on the conveyor belt and scanned the items one by one. As the beers were scanned through, I was asked by the woman the crushing 5 words: “Have you got any ID?”. I took one step aside, unzipped my hoodie revealing a scrub top, NHS badge and a stethoscope round my neck and calmly said “Sorry, no, I’ve just finished night shift”. Luckily, the realisation that I legitimately was significantly older than 18 meant that the bottles of beer ended up in my shopping bags rather than back on the store’s shelves!
Home. Beers in the fridge. Groceries Away. Sleep.
Sleep-deprivation temporarily avoided (after only a few hours in bed), it was time to try them out. I took the yellow labelled bottle first. Light Ness, a session pale ale, 3.8% ABV by Loch Ness Brewery. Looking in greater detail I noticed that when the “N” in Ness appeared on the bottle, it was styled similarly to their representation of the infamous Loch Ness monster, Nessie. For those that are not aware, Loch Ness (loch meaning lake) is one of the most famous lochs in Scotland and there is a legend of a mythical creature (or Loch Ness Monster) inhabiting the lake. Every so often, new pictures emerge claiming that Nessie has been sighted! This brewery has been rejuvenated recently as the prior parent company went into administration a couple of years ago. Fortunately, Cairngorm Brewery in partnership with Cobbs have taken over the licensing, allowing this brand to live on. So let us see how the beers measure up.
These bottles come in 500ml, just short of a UK standard pint. Compared to recently sampled craft beers, which often come in 330ml cans and bottles, this larger size made a nice change! I chose to try the session pale ale first, ‘Light Ness’. The black bottlecap was removed and the contents were poured into one of my tall pint glasses. It poured a light amber in colour, a touch darker than the yellow label, with a medium-bodied foam head. The head kept building and I was briefly nervous that it may overflow; that didn’t stop me pushing the height of the beer to its absolute maximum. The beer was light in flavour, with some citrus notes, primarily lemon. This was then followed by a contrasting bitterness, more than I would expect from a typical session pale ale. There were a couple of drawbacks to this brew – it didn’t have the most pleasant smell and it had an ever-so-slight metallic taste on the palate. It may be called “Light Ness”, which carries through as it is light in texture and colour, but it definitely doesn’t hold back on flavour!
Rating: 3.25/5. ‘Light Ness’ has a couple of slight drawbacks but is a good beer overall. Knowing the water source of this beer was from Loch Ness was a big appeal to me. Well-rounded, with a great bottle design that I believe elevates this brew above average!
Next up was ‘Hoppy Ness’. This version is the IPA and secretly I was looking forward to this one even more. I love IPAs and having already enjoyed the session pale that evening, I had big expectations. There was the same black bottle cap to remove, but the label on this bottle was green and this beer came in slightly stronger at 5.0%. It poured slightly darker than the Light Ness variation, with a similar medium-bodied foam head that persisted even after 10 minutes. It smelt appealing too (one of the pitfalls of the former beer). On drinking, it was actually better than the Light Ness session pale ale for two reasons;
- There was no metallic taste
- There was an even bigger hit of flavour, with a smooth bitterness to finish
Rating: 3.75/5. ‘Hoppy Ness’ was great and if I see both beers side by side again, the green-labelled bottle will be the one placed into my shopping basket. A solid IPA, further solidifying them as my current beer of choice.
Both Loch Ness Brewery beers were great, so I will keep an eye out for some of their other brews. They have an approximate line up of 12 beers and if I notice a new one in a bar I will certainly be sampling it. I love the fact that they are using Loch Ness water; rest assured I am certain that this tastes like good beer and not like Nessie’s urine! Now off to find on of Loch Ness Brewery pint glasses – they look absolutely fantastic! Google it to see for yourself! Oh, and one final point – Loch Ness Brewery have a fantastic tagline – Brewing monster beer!