Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Night Beer: Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted

Bitter & Twisted
Harviestoun Brewery
Alva, Scotland
English Blond Ale

Last week we did an American lager. This week I picked up a pretty standard ale. Harviestoun is a great brewery out of Scotland. One of their more famous beers is Old Engine Oil, and, an aged version of that called Ola Dubh (which, by the way, has been in the LCBO for the past couple weeks. They've been selling fast, but if you can find one, it's worth the price.). To get us started on ales, I was looking for Fuller's more malt forward London Pride or ESB, but my local was fresh out. So I picked up a bottle of Bitter & Twisted.

B&T is labeled a Blond Ale, but it spills over a bit to the English IPA category given the pretty generous hopping (by UK standards). A Blond is a light, sessionable (that is, light and low in alcohol), and moderately hopped ale. The term Blond Ale means different things in different countries, so make note that this is most definitely an English/Scottish version. You'll want to serve this a little warmer than you would a lager like the Brooklyn.

B&T pours a nice gold. Little bit cloudy, but not to worry. Head settles pretty quickly. Nice, sticky lacings all the way to the finish. Doesn't look too carbonated, which was done on purpose. You may have heard of Real Ale. The British have a wonderful tradition of cask ales, beers naturally conditioned and carbonated in casks drawn through a hand pump. These have lower levels of carbonation than any beer you've ever had. So, UK brewers, and North American craft brewers, will often sell beers with noticeabley less carbonation than the fizzy MolsBatt's products.

It has quite a citrussy hop aroma, especially for a UK beer. Bit of a sugary sweetness behind the lemon zest though.

Carbonation is actually a bit surprising, it's very crisp and does a good job of waking up the taste buds. Bitter lemon from the hops right up front accompanied by a typical English bitterness. Those would be the Styrian Goldings. These standard UK varieties give off a subtle bitterness as opposed to the resinous, piney, bitterness you get from American brews. The hops are the show here, which is a bit disappointing since I was looking to show off some malt this week, but no bother. You do get a taste of the malt in the finish, even after you've swallowed. There's a bit of a apple sweetness combined with a touch of honey there, that would be an ale malt. It's also a bit "juicy". Not as distinctive as some of the darker types of ale, but it's there.

B&T is a good beer, we're lucky to have it at the LCBO and it reminds me that I should buy it more often than I do. I hope you were able to spot a difference in the character of this ale compared to the hoppy lager from last week. I promise I'll pick up a malt-forward beer for next week.


  1. Usually, I have gone through most of the LCBO's international offerings, and I didn't come across this one. Thanks for the tip. I will put it on my list the next time I get to the LCBO. I know you are doing malt type beer next time, but I would be interested in your take on Weissbier, which I think the LCBO only carries one or two.

  2. I can do that, I'm happy to take requests!