Launch Day – Highland Gardens For Bees

Bee hives at Black Isle Brewery

Come along to the brewery this Saturday 28 June for the launch of Highland Gardens for Bees. The aim of our new initiative is to engage gardeners in the conservation of bees, to make existing gardens more bee friendly, and to design and create bee friendly gardens for members of our society. You can find out more here.

We’ve got an action-packed day planned, including…

  • Free guided tours of Old Allangrange gardens, as recently featured on BBC Scotland’s Beechgrove Garden, with Katy Malone of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
  • BBQ – including lamb burgers made with lamb raised here on the farm
  • And there’ll be delicious Black Isle Beer, of course!
  • Plus you can become a member of Highland Gardens Bee Society and be in the draw to win a design for your very own bee garden.

Join us from 11AM – see you there!

Highland Gardens For Bees

Black Isle on the big screen in Alabama

We’re pinching ourselves but this actually happened… our brewery video was up on the Jumbotron screen at an event this past weekend at Regions Field baseball stadium in Birmingham, Alabama!

Our beer will soon be appearing on Alabama shelves thanks to our distributor Hop City Beer. Check out our Beer Finder page for all the latest places you can find Black Isle – we’re adding new locations all the time.

Black Isle in Alabama

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Jocktoberfest tickets now on sale

Tickets are now on sale for Jocktoberfest! Saddle up your fix of beer, bands and bratwurst on the Black Isle this 5 & 6 September. Our theme this year is Wild West, so ride on over to the Jocktoberfest website, because tickets are selling fast.

Jocktoberfest 2014

New Pluscarden Abbey Blonde

Pluscarden Abbey Blonde

We have just released a special Abbey Blonde 5%, in association with the Benedictine Monks at Pluscarden Abbey, Morayshire.

The Belgian-inspired blonde beer is similar in style to those brewed by monastic communities in Belgium and Germany and traditionally drunk during the 40-day Lenten fasting period for sustenance and nourishment.

Brother Michael de Klerk has made several visits to the brewery and worked alongside the Black Isle team to brew the beer. It is a pale yellow in colour with distinctive notes of banana and vanilla on the nose. It’s perfect spring beer to toast the season of renewed life and rejuvenation. This is the only beer brewed with monks in Scotland.

Brother Michael said, “We are very happy to be associated with the Black Isle Brewery in this project. It has highlighted the link between monks and the noble craft of brewing, which our continental brethren have taken to a very high level of expertise”.

Pluscarden Abbey Blonde has a limited run in 330ml bottles and is available from our online shop and in selected Edinburgh beer retailers.

Black Isle beer now at Sainsburys

Attention Sainsbury’s shoppers! Black Isle beer is now stocked in stores across Scotland. You can choose from Blonde, Red Kite and Yellowhammer.

We did a reccie to the Nairn store yesterday to admire it on the shelves…

Black Isle beer in Sainburys

Meet the team: Gareth Reid

Our assistant brewer Gareth Reid caught the brewing bug after spending twenty years as an electrical engineer. He completed a MSc in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in 2012-13, before joining the Black Isle team last September. We had a chat about his transition from power lines to pints…

Gareth waxing lyrical about Red Kite in the tasting video

Gareth waxes lyrical about Red Kite in the tasting video

How did you make the career leap from engineering to brewing?
It started when I got into drinking good beer. Being a bit geeky and OCD, I decided I wanted to learn how to make it. I quickly realised that the skills needed to be a brewer suited my personality. When my homebrew experiments filled the room that my wife had earmarked for an en-suite bathroom, she suggested that maybe the hobby was getting serious! So five years later, here we are.

How does brewing differ from engineering?
In many ways it doesn’t – you need a good eye for detail and a creative streak to be good at both. Sometimes both jobs require the skill and knowledge to think on your feet and improvise and of course there is a lot of equipment and machinery in the brewery. The main difference is the end product is tastier!

What are your favourite Black Isle beers?
I like Hibernator, Scotch Ale and Export Scotch Ale because they’re fun and interesting to brew – you have to really pay attention as you use a partigyle technique and have to get the sparging and cut off points right to get the right amount of sugars in the wort. Taste wise, they’re good sipping beers with relatively high alcohol for warmth and loads of flavour. Great comfort beers for Scottish winters!

I like Blonde for the opposite reasons. The recipe is really simple and the flavour profile relatively light so there’s nowhere for any off flavours to hide. It’s our biggest seller so you have to brew and ferment it carefully to ensure consistency.

What beers do you like, in general?
It honestly changes all the time! Recently I’ve been learning more about Belgian Trappist beers and just tried Rochefort 10 for the first time, which was spectacularly good.

Mash tun glamour

Mash tun glamour

What’s your favourite part of the brewing process?
Mashing in. The brewery starts to smell really good and you’re anticipating the rest of the brewday; going through a mental checklist to make sure that you do a good job. There’s a bit of pressure to get it right when you’re brewing 30 barrels at a time. A bit of a change from my formative years brewing 20 litre home brew batches in the garage!

Now, your non-brewing life. What’s your favourite…
Film? Doctor Strangelove
TV show? Northern Exposure
Book? Anything about the Space Race!
Non-beer beverage? Strong tea.
Weekend activity? Cycling and hillwalking.

What’s the best part about brewing at Black Isle?
I like the location. Working on the farm is very different from brewing on an industrial estate. Sometimes you forget where you are until you go outside and there are chickens wandering around or dogs looking for a pat!

Any tips for someone wanting to follow in your brewing footsteps?
Read, read and read some more! Always keep brewing and keep learning about ingredients, styles and techniques. Ask lots of questions. Some of the best professional brewers I know started out as (and still are) homebrewers; the science and methods are equally applicable at both ends of the scale.

Jocktoberfest: The band search is on!

Thanks to Inverness gigs for the pic

Band submissions are now open for Jocktoberfest 2014. We’re looking for 10 emerging acts to take part. Submissions are welcome from any genre, but we are very much an organic roots based event.

Submissions are via Bandwagon and close April 20th. Acts will be picked by a panel of local music press, promoters and tastemakers.

Apply here on the Bandwagon website

Thanks Inverness Gigs for the photo!

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Russia here we come!

This truck left the brewery this morning, filled with a selection of our finest brews and bound for Russia. To all our Russian friends, keep an eye out for it soon!

Black Isle beer is heading to Russia

San Francisco stockists

USA update: we have now infiltrated the San Francisco Bay Area! Our distributor has just given us this list of stockists…

If you do get your hands on our lovely Oatmeal Stout or Export Scotch Ale, we’d love to hear what you think. We’ll keep you posted on further stockist news. Thank you for your support!