Orkney Brewery - Red MacGregor
- Alcohol by Volume: 5.5%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
This Red MacGregor is actually a brand new version coming just to the U.S. (at least for now), weighing in at 5.5% versus the previous recipe's 4%. Our lucky members are among the very first to try it. Though already a much respected beer (the cask version having become the first Scottish beer to win the BIIA World Cask Beer Gold Medal), the brewery and the U.S. importer both felt that a bigger malt bill would help this wonderful session ale develop even more flavor while remaining at a reasonable ABV – and they were right. Pouring a deep, reddish-amber color, Red MacGregor offers up plenty of aromatics including a very pleasant bready, almost cake-like, core of richly caramelized malts. We really enjoyed the quite floral and lightly earthy hop perfume overlaying the malts, as well as the well-integrated fruity twist (which does lean toward cherry, as the label describes). On the palate, this Scottish Ale delivers a wonderfully rich, toasty malt core and a smooth, creamy feel. Hints of fruit peak through here and there, and the hops balance very well, presenting just the right amount of spicy bite without trying to dominate the malts. This is a great beer to enjoy with a snack of toasty crackers with a pub cheese like Cotswold, or a bloomy rind cheese like Brie or the triple-cream Explorateur. Cheers!
Off the northern tip of Scotland lie the Orkney Islands, a place that was for many centuries ruled by the Vikings, and is steeped in historical and archeological mystique, attracting visitors the world over who come to gaze upon the perfectly preserved Neolithic dwellings, Norse architecture and beautiful island landscapes. Visitors and locals alike describe the islands’ ambiance as mysterious, due at least in part to the unexplained Stonehenge-like “Ring of Brodgar” which dates from about 2,000 B.C. It is a circular configuration of 27 standing stones which are inscribed with ancient text, likely of druidic origin, and believed to have been used in secret, ritualistic magic. It is not known how or why the Ring of Brodgar came to exist in its location on the Orkney Islands, but some believe it may have functioned as a calendar, while others hold that it fulfilled a more ominous purpose.
Thankfully, a couple Orcadians (as residents of the Orkney Islands are known) with no sinister intentions, Roger and Irene White, founded the Orkney Brewery in 1988. It is housed in the former Quoyloo Academy, a Victorian schoolhouse in Quoyloo, located on the west coast of the largest of the Orkney Islands. Since their opening, they have produced a fine range beers noted throughout the UK for their quality and earning many prestigious awards. In 1995 the brewery was extended and new equipment introduced in order to meet the demand for the brewery’s line of beers.
In 2006, the brewery was bought by Orcadian restaurateur Norman Sinclair, whose interest in the brewery goes back to when he enjoyed their beers while studying for his degree at RGIT in Aberdeen. Additionally, Sinclair’s father actually attended the Quoyloo Academy, so there was quite a personal and local connection for the new owner. Under Sinclair’s leadership the brewery has grown, and now boasts a café – a natural fit for a brewery owned by a restaurateur, and a model that has worked well here in the States. The Orkney Brewery currently bottles seven beers, including this month’s feature, Red MacGregor. For more information, visit them at www.sinclairbreweries.co.uk.
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