Strathaven Ales Craigmill Brewery Aleberry Damson beer

Strathaven Ales Craigmill Brewery Aleberry Damson beer
Originally uploaded by byronv2

A nice visit to the outskirts of Strahaven to the Craigmill Brewery, a 17th century mill building by the River Avon, where after buying some bottles of various ales to take home I was invited downstairs where I got to taste their brand new Aleberry Damson Beer, made with locally grown fruit. Its not even made it as far as the local pubs yet so only a few folks have had the pleasure of this rather lovely ale, which I’ve just posted a review of on the Blog o’ Beer.

Beer and guest blogging

I’ve been posting a handful of reviews onto the new Blog o’Beer (BoB) along with Darren (or Ariel as most in the SF&F community know him) and Ed Ashby, who have been seriously piling into the reviews with great gusto (or perhaps they are just piss artists, but if so they are piss artists with some flair). I’ve just added a new one on a local beer from the Clyde Valley, Old Mortality from the Craigmill Brewery, and this week has also seen our first guest blog from acclaimed fantasty novelist Tim Lebbon, who very kindly wrote us up a report on a local beer festival down in the lovely West Country.

Old Nag Ale

Peggy the horse, long a regular at the Alexandra Hotel bar in Jarrow, Tyneside, has lost her access to her local watering hole. The twelve year old mare usually accompanies her owner Peter Dolan to the pub, where Peggy enjoyed a pint of beer and a packet of crisps (I wonder what flavour?), but now she has to wait outside – no, not because she likes a ciggie, but because the bar has recently been refitted and the owners decided that they didn’t really fancy having a horse clip-clopping through it. I suppose it says a lot that they let her up to now, we have trouble in a number of bars if my mate tries to take his dog in with him. Wonder what they’d say if we turned up on our trusty steeds instead? What do you say, chaps, let’s form the world’s First Ale Cavalry squadron! (via the BBC)

Random recent scenes

Princes Street this evening on the way home, basking in late sunshine; outside the oh-so-posh Jenners department store a bagpiper in full highland dress is jamming with two black musicians playing some sort of ethnic variation on tom-tom drums. They’re clearly all enjoying themselves as are the locals and tourists who stop to listen to this mix of African and Scottish. It sounds brilliant.

On my way in and out to work I pass some spectacularly beautiful displays of bright, colourful, fresh flowers in Princes Street Gardens and the crescents at the West End; in the bright sunlight the flowers almost glow. The council mismanages a lot of things in Edinburgh but kudos to the gardners for creating such beautiful, eye-catching displays that just make your day nicer by being there.

Making the most of the sudden burst of warm, summer-like weather we head down the coast where near the beach at the Fidra Lighthouse I bump into my friend Claudia with her visiting parents. After a very long walk all the way down the beach to North Berwick we’re licking our yummy ice creams when my big cousin and her husband suddenly appear.

Bus to work on Monday; as I am getting off one of my friends from the book group is getting on although I only have a chance to say hello to her as we pass. Clearly it is my week for randomly bumping into friends and family as I go about. Who will be the next Guest Star in the ongoing soap opera of life?

Walking down Middle Meadow Walk a temporary wooden wall hiding the building works in the old Royal Infirmary which has been covered with posters for Fringe shows is now peeling and torn, scraps flapping in the breeze now it is all over. The grass of the Meadows still shows the marks of the recently departed marquees and big top from shows.

Hot, sunny day, warmer than most of the summer – great. Except it is too hot and dreadfully airless at my desk at work and I’m dying for some fresh air all afternoon – a good excuse to meet a friend and sit outside a pub on the way home drinking cold beer in the fresh air and watching the sun slowly dipping towards the horizon.

Sitting in Beanscene with Mel, enjoying coffee and cake I notice they have details on how to buy the antiqued leather sofas they have in the cafe – the sign advertising this is simple but brilliant “order a sofa to go”. Oh yes, please, can I have a skinny latte, triple choc muffin and a sofa to go?

Drink and the poet

A very beautiful and sunny day off for me today. The spring sunshine bathed Edinburgh in a warm glow, flowers burst into bloom in Princes Street Gardens and women are wearing more revealing tops. Ah yes, spring is in the air. In this spirit I decided to leave aside the cares of the modern world for one day and embarked upon an ancient Celtic tradition, a pagan ritual the Celtic people have followed faithfully since long before the Romans came to Caledonia. A life-affirming celebration of the end of the long, dark winter and the rebirth of the Earth goddess in the form of spring. Yes, in other words I had my first outdoor beer of the year 🙂

Don’t mock – for those of us who live in the ancient lands of Scotland the first outdoor drinking session of the spring is a very important ritual, which must be solemnly observed on the first reasonably warm and sunny afternoon. The ritual demands several local ales to be imbibed and for small delicacies to be served to honour the Goddess (crisps will do). Dear chums, I hold my Celtic heritage very dear and sacred to my heart and so I did my best to carry out this ancient ceremony to the best of my ability, onerous though that burden may be.Suitably enough for someone who works in the book trade this al-fresco imbibing took place outside of Milne’s Bar in Rose Street. For those who don’t know Edinburgh, Milne’s was the home away from home for a large number of Scottish poets in the post-war period. A composite portrait of our drunken bards in this historic tavern hangs in the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street. One of the pluses about living in Edinburgh is that even the pubs are historic landmarks to be visited. So you can go pub crawling and still call it a tour, wonderful. Never trust a poet who doesn’t indulge. Come to think of it, never buy a pair of used roller blades from one either, especialyl if he’s been drinking.