Tag Archive: Black Isle Brewery


Black Isle: 5-A-Day (Scotland: Fruit Session IPA: 3.5% ABV)

Visual: Darkened yellow to brown. Very large off white bubbled head.

Nose: Passion-fruit. Lightly wheaty. Light white pepper. Light hop character and bitterness.

Body: Sour-dough. Gritty bitterness. Gritty hop character. Chalk. Light tart gapes.

Finish: Gritty bitterness. High hop bitterness. Slight charring. Dry guava. Dry passion-fruit. Flour. Chalk.

Conclusion:Ok, this is one of the least fruity IPAs I have ever encountered. Which, considering it is made with passion-fruit is really a bad sign.

First impressions are of just a gritty, slightly chalky and rough thing. The beer seems to have run into the problem that a lot of session IPAs do, which that that unless they are brewed very well then the lower malt base can make the beer feel dry and over-attenuated with little residual sweetness, which can make the higher hop load just acrid rather than flavoursome.

Over time an ,admittedly still very dry, fruit character does out, but it is never anywhere near enough to push itself ahead of the dry charring that is the front of the beer. It isn’t big flavoured except in roughness, it isn’t easy drinking in any way, the hops are rough and the malt is empty. Even worse the added fruit twist does very little resulting in a beer that is both dull and harsh.

So this is a bad beer – chalky and clinging with all the worst elements holding on the longest. This is genuinely one to avoid as it has nigh no redeeming qualities.

Background: Black Isle Brewery was one of the first set of beers I did notes on, back when I was first starting the blog. They were ok but nothing special back then. Since then they seem to have a complete image overhaul and gone more into the craft beer scene rather than the more traditional ales they did before. So when I saw a bunch of their beers at Independent Spirit I decided to grab one and see how they had changed. This is is a low abv IPA made with passion-fruit. Seems simple enough. I put on Testament – Low for music to back this. No real reason, just enjoy their music.

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Black Isle Brewery: Golden Eye Pale Ale (Scotland: Golden Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy orange gold with a massive long lasting head that leaves a lot of lace on the glass.

Nose: Hay, orange, yeasty and ginger cake. Some airy hops and paprika.

Body: Dry wood centre, quite bitter. Leaves and nettles. Slightly sludgy feel. Touch of malt and shredded wheat.

Finish: Bitter and hoppy, slight thickness and spinach.

Conclusion: A very forest and marsh influence pale beer and that’s not meant as a compliment.

The spinach elements to this beer is more a brick wall locking you away from any subtle flavours than an enticing element or refreshing break from the norm. You feel from the nose that there could be a good beer hidden away somewhere but the other elements conspire to make it sludgy and unappealing.

Overall a weak beer I’m afraid.

Black Isle Brewery: Heather Honey Beer (Scotland: Traditional Ale : 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale fizzy gold – cloudy with a firm frothy off white head.

Nose; Heather, cooked chicken, honey and hints of vanilla.

An initially unsettling nose but the better elements come out shortly.

Body: Honey, the mouthfeel has a middling thickness to it which gives a nice texture. Slight sherbet fizz and vanilla. Dry bread and some rubber.

Finish: Short, dry wood. Later on it last slightly longer with a cotton wool texture and a bit of golden syrup.

Conclusion: A better beer than these tasting elements would indicate. For all its off notes and a weak finish it still has at its base a honey beer style that is hard to cock up. It makes for a nice flavour that matches a warm summer day.

However, the alcohol racks in a tad too highly for a good evening supping with friends in the setting sun.

So its not a beer for contemplation, nor an easy drink for a summers day – This leaves us with a beer that, while not unpleasant, has no time to which it is well suited.

As said, this is a moderately enjoyable light beer – but it has too much stacked against it for it to be recommended. There are better lower alcohol honey beers, and if you want high alcohol honey drinks, there is always the chance to befriend Paul and try to get your hands on some mighty fine mead.

Black Isle Brewery: Hibernator Oatmeal Stout: (Scotland: Stout: 7% ABV)

Visual: Dark black but not quite opaque. Slightly over bubbly for the style. Brown head vanishes soon.

Nose: Lovely coffee beans and a kick of alcohol soaked wood. Some raisin and liquorice, then opens to an airy grain storehouse. Very inviting.

Body: Dark malt and liquorice. Sweet brandy and bitter cocoa. Slightly too thin mouthfeel. Creamy.

Finish: Deep brown sugar and malt. Rising chocolate air. Dry end, lots of woodiness.

Conclusion: Very appetizing and well put together stout, if of slightly thin texture. A thicker creamier version of this would be a top notch beer.

As it is, it’s still and enjoyable but not quite top end beer. Its lighter body but till enjoyable flavour could make it a good beer with lighter flavoured fish dishes.

A beer for when you want the flavour but not the weight and thickness of a full on stout.

Black Isle Brewery: Export Scotch Ale (Scotland: Scotch Ale: 6.4%)

Visual: Brown frothy head that settles quickly. Caramel brown body. Slight bubbles.

Nose: Sweet and light. Toffee, hops, heather. Hint of lactose.

Body: Smooth, seared barrels. liquorice toffee. Wholemeal bread, treacle, slight beef crisps. Cotton wool texture at the end.

Finish: Caramel, burnt barbecue bits, moss covered twigs. Slight oiliness, rising sweet dews then a dry dusty hit.

Conclusion: Starts a tad single note but competent. Has a lovely tantalizing nose that the rest of the beer does not manage to live up to. The exports strength alcohol does not overwhelm the beer making for reasonable bittersweet ale.

Of note: near the end of the drink an old cellared dust and mothball feeling arose adding greatly to the feel of the beer and adding some intrigue to the ale. Currently one I would say is ok but not amazing; but that last little hint is intriguing. May have to come back to it later for another look.

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