Stewart Brewing, Edinburgh Gold
A light refreshing pale ale with some of the characteristics of a belgian blonde. Let's put it to the vote.
Steve Stewart developed a passion for beer early in life. As a teenager he spent his evenings and weekends trying to get served at the Nether Abbey Hotel in North Berwick on Scotland's East Lothian coast. He didn't have much success. His two older brothers happened to work there and on many occasion sent Steve packing with a flea in his ear.
The only option then was to make his own beer. He was given a homebrew kit for his 16th birthday and hasn't looked back since. After studying Brewing at Edinburgh's Herriot Watt University, he took a job at Bass, where he helped to launch Caffreys. He then headed to the Harpoon Brewery in Boston where he saw first hand a craft beer revolution taking place as small, independent breweries gained traction with forward thinking beers. He wanted to bring a bit of that back to Edinburgh.
When Steve's brother was tragically diagnosed with terminal cancer, he returned home with his wife Jo determined to no longer let life pass him by. They were going to launch their own brewery.
Stewart Brewing was launched in 2004. Steve, as the only employee, built the brewery, brewed the beer and when he had time, sold a bit too. It wasn't long before the selling bit took care of itself as the brewery gained a reputation both sides of Hadrian's wall for tasty, innovative brews. He soon needed a few more hands on deck. They now employ 18 people from their site on the outskirts of Edinburgh in Loanhead, Midlothian.
That team are making some great beer too. The core range includes Embra, an accomplished, well rounded amber ale that was previously awarded champion bottled beer of Britain and Holyrood, a delicious, dangerously drinkable session pale ale. They are complimented by some more adventurous and daring new releases, our favourite being Solas, a Red IPA and the most curious being a sweet Coconut Porter.
This week's beer, Edinburgh Gold, is a light, refreshing, premium bitter, but with some of the characteristics of a Belgian Blonde, the latter being most obvious in the aroma which is full of earthy yeast, spice, banana bread and cloves. Those wonderful smells erupt from a huge rocky head that quickly settles down on top of a golden, well carbonated body. Oh, that body. Smooth as a nut. It slips down a treat, now with more pale ale hints; light orange and lemon zest bitterness with a bit of tropical fruit and a nice dry finish. Certainly more complex than we were expecting.
In 2012 Stewart Brewing launched the Craft Beer Kitchen, a wonderful project that allows everyday punters to book slots and brew on commercial kit. We're not sure what the age limit is. Not that Steve would mind.