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Cromarty Whiteout Session White IPA

Is it a session IPA or a hoppy wheat beer? It might take more than one bottle of this to make your mind up.

Craig Middleton founded Cromarty Brewing Co. in 2011 and, with a little help from his mum and dad, has created a thriving family-run brewery in the northerly seaport town. Only, brewing doesn’t run in Craig’s family. Engineering does. We asked him at what point he decided to switch from studying for an engineering degree at Glasgow to study to become a brewer.

“When I realised that it was consuming a major part of my life and people were really digging my beers! To be honest, I am a passionate engineer and it consistently comes in useful when running a brewery – however during my days at Strathclyde in Glasgow I found I was eventually doing more brewing than engineering. I had considered the course at Heriot-Watt before continuing on my planned path to Strathclyde but after two years I just took the plunge and went for it.”

An obligatory trip to Colorado followed where Craig found inspiration for his beers from breweries such as Avery, Ska and Odells. You can see (and taste) results of this trip in the Cromarty range with beers like Red Rooster (a hoppy rye ale) and Atlantic Drift (Craig’s take on the classic American pale).

There hadn’t been a brewery in Cromarty for over 150 years so it must have been a pretty good day for the locals when the first casks rolled out to the nearby pubs and bars. We asked Craig how well his American influenced style of beers have gone down with the locals.

“The locals are great – really supportive of me starting up and I really can’t be more thankful about how they stocked and drank our products. It shows a really good sense of community I think.”

Whilst the community have doubtless supported Craig’s beer because he was a local lad, he’s also made sure that, as contemporary as the ale can be, there’s also a nod to the beers he grew up drinking.

“I did have a massive fascination with the old abandoned McEwans brewery in Edinburgh whilst there at university – which probably stemmed from my youth of drinking export and love of big machinery.”

It seems that you might, from time to time, be able to take the boy out of Scotland, but you cannot take Scotland out of the boy.

And this week’s beer, Whiteout. We asked Craig for the story behind it.

“When I set about designing this beer it was to make a session IPA with great body and mouthfeel. My thoughts were to use lots of wheat and oats to smooth it out and help float the body – hence the reason we call it a session white IPA. I really wanted to showcase Mosaic hops but thought it better to combine them with some Citra and Motueka to really bring the tropical notes out. The first ever batch of this was used as a wedding beer for my best mate which I think makes a nice story.”

This is a great example of the sort of beer that sits equally well on cask as it does on keg; a beer that combines the best of both craft and traditional styles. What’s next for Cromarty Brewing?

“A new updated look for our brand and bottles will be appearing towards the end of summer. We are also looking to grow our production a bit more so we can keep up with demand. Currently, our new lager is really going down well and we are looking to expand our barrel ageing program. Our next releases will involve a Tropical Coconut Wit and a Double Barrel Rocker to celebrate our Red Rocker winning gold at the World Beer Cup.”

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