Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Best Beer in the World
Well… at least the best named beer! “Fraoch” is actually Gaelic for Heather. Heather ale has apparently been brewed in Scotland for 4,000 years and is the oldest style of ale still made in the world. Jonathan knew he liked Heather for a reason!
We expected the Scottish Highlands to be very similar to the rural part of Ireland we visited, but it is actually quite a bit different. The landscape is more rugged but still really beautiful. And the population is a little older than Edinburgh!
We spent our first full day exploring the Ness Islands, a short walk from our hotel… and doing laundry. Inverness is a fairly small city but still has all the essentials – including another castle! The next day we rented a car (thankfully they upgraded us to an automatic) and drove to the Isle of Skye, where the sheep to people ratio is approximately 50:1.
We visited the Talisker Whiskey Distillery for a tour and tasting - a required stop on a Scottish vacation. We had a picnic lunch and then spent some more time driving around the island, where we came across the highly allusive “hairy cow.” Luckily for us, Catherine gave us a heads up to be on the look out for these guys. Jonathan bravely snapped the picture below (but we weren’t sure if the cow could see him anyway).
Later that afternoon we drove to Fort Augustus, a small town on Loch Ness, to continue our hunt for Nessie (see picture below). Unfortunately, we didn’t have a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. We eventually gave up our search and had dinner at a nearby restaurant where Jonathan tried the official dish of Scotland – Haggis. Heather tried not to gag as he ate the mound of lamb parts. Supposedly it tastes like sausage, but Heather can’t confirm.
Today we drove to Cairngorms National Park, the largest in the UK, and went on a long hike around one of the lochs in the park. Unfortunately, the only wildlife encounter was with a small field mouse. After that we drove to Black Isle to visit the Black Isle Brewery – a small craft brewery known for their award winning organic beers. Our less than enthusiastic guide, also the owner of the brewery, let us try several craft brews including another beer made with the heather flower.
Tomorrow we are headed to Stockholm. Cross your fingers that our bags meet the weight-limit for Ryanair!
• Fraoch (a Heather ale brewed in Scotland)
• Maplemoon (an English “maple” ale)
• Wychcraft (a blonde beer from England)
• Oxford Gold Organic (an English craft brew)
• Old Hooky (a full-bodied English ale)
• Titanic Stout (an English Stout)
• Heather Honey Organic Beer (from the Scottish Black Isle Brewery we visited)
• Yellowhammer Organic IPA (also from the Black Isle Brewery)