Christmas 2017 Newsletter

Tusker – sweet 16 and still going strong!

This year’s card is dedicated to the brewery terrier Tusker, aka Colonel Custard, Coo Coo, or The Chairman of the Board.

Many years ago, in the early days of the brewery, Tusker went every weekend to the Farmers Market in Edinburgh, including delivery trips around town, providing unwavering loyalty and great company.

He is still an amazing little dog, and comes to the brewery each day and lies in am armchair in the office – although, he doesn’t smell as sweetly as he used to!

Look out early next year for a special commemoration beer to celebrate his 16th year.


Bar, Bar, Bar, Bar, Bar, B, Ran, and ran, and ran………….

It’s 16 months now since we opened the Black Isle Bar in downtown Inverness and what a great success it has been.

We are licensed until 1am every night of the week and have the most fabulous organic beer garden to sit and relax and enjoy a beer, whisky, cigar, pizza.

We don’t do bands. We don’t have chefs. What we do have is the best range of beers in the Highlands, great pizzas, some delicious organic wines, and a fantastic atmosphere for you to sit with your friends and talk, and talk until your heart is content.

December must do event – Beer, Whisky and Cigars. Special beer and whisky pairing with Glenmorangie Distillery. A presentation by Black Isle and Glenmorangie of 3 barrel-aged beers paired with 3 selected whiskies. Limited 25 tickets at £25 each. Special event priced Cuban Cigars available on the night.


Base Camp Black Isle – Black Isle Hostel announced for Easter 2018!!

For beer-lovers, bicyclists, back-packers and bon viveurs, we are pleased to announce the addition of a 54 bed hostel to the Black Isle Bar. A stone’s throw from both the Bus and Train Stations with secure bike storage, drying room, and stacks of hot water this is the new must-stay destination for anyone looking for budget accommodation in the heart of Inverness.

To carry on the lucky 16 theme, the first sixteen people to book accommodation get a free pizza and beer at the Black Isle Bar.


Christmas Beer

Celebrate the festive season with Black Isle Beer delivered to your door anywhere mainland Britain including…

Now That’s What I call Beer 2017! The ever-popular celebration mixed pack including Blonde, Red Kite, Yellowhammer, Goldeneye and Porter – any mix 24 bottles.

The Art of Darkness whisky cask-aged beers, including Scotch Ale/Ardbeg, Hibernator/Ardbeg, and Hibernator/Glenmorangie – 1 x bottle of each and 1 stemmed brewery glass.

Hop Springs Eternal after a tumultuous time recently with one thing and another this festival of hoppy beers is the perfect antidote to lift the spirits in anyone’s breast. 6 bottles each Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Goldeneye, and 3 bottles each Migrator and Vielen Dank DIPA

All Mail Order Beer FREE SHIPPING between now and Christmas!!


Visit Black Isle Organic Mothership 2018

Whether you are booked into Base Camp Black Isle, or you have been to the Black Isle Bar, or you are just planning a visit to the Highlands this year please call in at the brewery and take a tour. You can also walk the gardens where we produce organic and biodynamic veg and herbs for our bar. Alternatively put the 7th, 8th September in the diary for Jocktoberfest our boutique brewery beer festival where Bavaria meets the Black Isle, for a weekend of Beer, Bratwurst and Bands. Next Years Theme……. One Million Years BC (Before Craft)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Black Isle
And we look forward to seeing you in 2018



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Herbilicious Polytunnel

Sticking to our bee-friendly principles, our vegetables are organically and bio-dynamically grown by our crack team of horticulturists, which is led by Scotson Reeve.

Here are just some of the things our polytunnel is teeming with at the moment:-

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Courgette
  • Rocket
  • Lettuce

’  IMG_5556      IMG_5553


Runner beans, garlic, broad beans, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers will all be ready to pick in the next couple of weeks. Perfectly timed to be ready for the opening of the Black Isle bar in Inverness. All the vegetables, salads and herbs used in the bar will be grown here on our organic farm!


IMG_5559    IMG_5560    IMG_5558


As the days are getting warmer (we hope), we’re all looking forward to spending more time out in the garden. Why not give your plot a bee-friendly boost? Borage, nasturtium, shiznanthus, (aka. Butterfly Flower) are great pollinators for bees and offer long lasting colour.


IMG_5557     IMG_5555

Dogs on Tap


We sent in a photo of wee Angus with a bottle of Scotch Ale to the Dogs on Tap Instagram account.

Now he is Instafamous!

Dogs on Tap launched in 2014 by Bethany (a graduate of William Paterson University) and Carter (a Border Collie mix). Their aim is to provide entertainment and information to the dog owning, craft beer lover.

And there are obviously lots of us as they already have over 29.1k followers!

‘Craft beer and dogs were made to be photographed together’

Check them out:

Migrator IPA 7.9% – a word from our Head Brewer

In my interview, I asked if I could brew a seasonal and after much negotiation I was challenged with brewing a big bold IPA in the American style. I started a recipe formulation and calculation process, incidentally trying out some really good beer from British and American breweries, tracing the recipes and writing what I liked and didn’t like about each.

I took a very successful recipe I had formulated for my previous brewery, which was more of an English IPA, 6% and all cask, and I played with that. I changed pretty much everything but kept the malt backbone of that recipe.

Once I came up with a prototype recipe, I did some experiments dry hopping 5 litres of Blonde to see if my combinations of flavours worked. The next challenge was sourcing the ingredients.

I was adamant at first to use dextrose to dry the beer out, like Pliny the Elder, and give it a cleaner flavour but I couldn’t source it organically. I also came to feel that it went against my German trained roots to add essentially refined sugars to a beer and it wasn’t quite fitting with the Back Isle ideology, so back to the drawing board…

Bottling 008Spent Grain 002WBrewery Boys 001W

In the end, I decided to use a long mash at low temperature to encourage higher fermentability and therefore that flavour I was searching for.

Malts used in making Migrator:

  • Extra pale
  • Munich
  • Low colour crystal

With hops I wanted to emulate the gung-ho hopping regimes of the American breweries but those hopping rates with organic hops, which are hard to come by, were near impossible. Also, in the Black Isle we don’t want to just waste such a beautiful ingredient by chucking heaps and heaps in. So together with my team and lots of textbook reading and consulting and seeing what other breweries were doing we looked at ways of creating that same hop flavour and hit with less hops, added in a much more efficient manner.

We finally decided on:

  • Simcoe
  • Cascade
  • Chinook

And a hint of Nelson Sauvin and Citra in the dry hop.Brewery Boys 20W

Next on the list was water, our water is very good for the beers we brew so it just need slight tweaking with salts to make the hop flavours sing.

As for the last but most important ingredient, yeast, we decided to try something new. At Black Isle we have our own special culture, a house strain, which gives Blonde its lovely estery notes and Red Kite its rich malt backbone, but for a hoppy IPA we decided to go with a classic west coast American yeast famous for its clean flavours and ability to showcase hops.

Brewery Boys 19W

All in all, the recipe formulation took about 2-3 months and involved endless chats/tastings about what we were aiming to create. On the brew-day the team was really excited to brew something new so we all started at 6am. It went beautifully with everything going to plan, which is a first in new recipes for me…

Once she was put to bed we tested every day to assess the fermentation and flavour formation. The beer had come out good but didn’t have the quite the right blend of hops flavours I was looking for. We were going to dry hop but a series of quick recalculations was needed to work out how to put it back into balance which meant all those little experiments with blonde helped immensely. We gave it a full month to cold mature, to mellow out all these flavours. Now it’s in keg and bottle it’s really a beer I can say I’m proud of (though I’m not saying I won’t tweak around a little if I get to brew it again… I am a brewer after all).

The finished product is a bold hitting cacophony of sweet grapefruit lychee flavour with a strong piney undertone and a pinch of tropical fruit with enough malt to hold those flavours in balance. 7.9% so it’s a good 1/3rd of a pint job.

Name wise, this is literally the hardest part of brewing. Many suggestions were aired, with Bullfinch to tie in with Goldfinch looking likely but I felt that we should link it with our other special strong beer, Hibernator. To showcase the links with our amazing Scottish malts, organic hops from New Zealand and the Yakima Valley, Washington, we finally decided on the name Migrator.
geese migrating_95431132_402x283

I have this image in my head of the artwork being a silhouette of the farm with a ‘v’ of geese flying overhead, which when we brewed it was all the sky was full of! But I have no idea what they are actually going to do yet. I have worked for a few breweries now and made a good proportion of the core recipes for their brands but I can honestly say that this is the one I’m happiest with. Hopefully the sales team knock it out the park so I can brew it again!

Soon to be available in the brewery shop and online. We will also have it on draft when we open our brewery bar in June!

Douglas Williams

Head Brewer at Black Isle Brewing Co Ltd

Black Isle Bar at The Great Estate Festival (Edinburgh Fringe 2016)

16-21 August 2016 – Vogrie Country Park

We are very happy to announce that we are going to be the beer supplier for The Great Estate Festival 2016.

This unique festival boasts a line-up of eclectic music, comedy, dance and theatre acts.

Held on the beautiful grounds of Vogrie Country Park, it is only a short ride to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

With a regular daytime shuttle service transporting you into the city centre, this makes The Great Estate the ideal spot to experience the full Edinburgh Fringe.

And to top it all off, all of their proceeds are donated to charity!


Try our latest beer – Goldfinch Gluten Free


Goldfinch W

Spring has sprung

The grass is ris

I wonder where them birdies is.

The little birds is on the wing

Ain’t that absurd

The little wings is on the bird!

Which brings us seasonally onto our newest beer Goldfinch 3.5% session I.P.A. launched this spring in Waitrose in Scotland and on draft across all Fuller Thomson bars.
Bursting with citrusy zing, this light, refreshingly hopped session IPA comes with the added bonus of being certified Gluten Free – good for you, good for the environment too and particularly good for your mate with the dodgy tum!

Follow us on Twitter @BlackIsleBeer to be the first to find out the latest bars and venues selling Goldfinch and our other beers.

Black Isle Bar opening in Inverness


The new Black Isle Bar is getting its first lick of paint. Opening early June in downtown Inverness the Black Isle Bar with rooms will offer great craft beer, organic pizza and even somewhere to rest your weary head!first paint


The Black Isle Brewery is pleased to announce that in addition to their Glasgow & Cheltenham stores our delightful organic Scottish brews are now available at all Whole Foods Market stores in London.

Whole Foods London stock the following Black Isle beauties:
Scotch Ale
Hibernator Oatmeal Stout
Red Kite

So why not pop along to one of their stores and treat yourself to a thirst quenching Black Isle beer. It’s good for you and for the environment too.

Click the link below to find your nearest Whole Foods Store store

Photos taken at Whole Foods Market in Piccadilly Circus


Taste Hunters: Les Explorateurs du Goût have Arrived on the Black Isle

Taste Hunters is a french adventure programme, hosted by two exploratory chefs Benjamin Darnaud & Jérome Bigot. This pair travel around the world to discover the real taste of food. They delight in seeking out and discovering “food rebels” as they call them. So it’s no wonder that they ended up at Scotland’s only organic brewery.

Doing a bit of filming outside the brewery.

Doing a bit of filming outside the brewery.

Making glorious food on one of our Agas

Making glorious food on one of our Agas

Jérome was shown around the brewery by our own rebel in-chief David Gladwin. After his tour of the brewery and farm, Jérome treated us to a fantastic lunch made with only organic produce from the farm! The only outside product that was used was the organic Brie.
French cuisine with Scottish organic produce

French cuisine with Scottish organic produce

On the menu was lamb’s kidneys, garlic and Scotch ale glaze, Sutherland kale, nasturtium flowers and Tuscan kale. To follow there were oatcakes, connage, russet apples and apple cake.

Naturally it was all washed down with Smoked Porter, Scotch Ale and Oak Aged Barley Wine.

We cannot wait to see the programme when it is ready to be broadcast on French TV. If you’d like to see it hop on over to Taste Hunters’ websites, where you can get a flavour of what Benjamin & Jérome are doing. Don’t worry it’s subtitled.

Save the Planet, Drink Organic 🙂

Vorsprung durch Technik Indeed!!

Recently the Black Isle Brewery received a very special shipment of 4 Rolec tanks from Germany with a 10,000 litre brew capacity per tank, which means we can keep all of you better supplied with our yummy beer ☺ What makes these tanks so special is that they are uni tanks, which can ferment and condition at the same time.

We just love this kind of multi-tasking!

Rolec Tank

Rolec Tank 2

Save the Planet, Drink Organic