Sometimes we enjoy beer with our food and, very occasionally, we enjoy food with our beer. Today we have an opportunity to sample beer at The Orkney Brewery – so we may as well have lunch while we are there! The Brewery is located in a former schoolhouse in Quoyloo. Beer and food are served in the Tasting Hall – a former classroom. Will they teach us anything we don’t already know about beer?
It would be imprudent not to sample several of the products, so we begin with a tasting paddle of Red MacGregor, Meridian and Dark Island. Red MacGregor is a ruby ale with hints of spice & malt; Meridian is a golden ale with notes of fruit; Dark Island is a dark beer with flavours of chocolate and dried fruit. They are all good but Dark Island is my favourite and I can understand why it has twice won the CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Scotland Award.
There is beer in most of the food they serve here. I order a Dark Island Hot Pot – Orkney beef and root vegetables slow cooked in ale and served with Bere Bannock – an Orcadian barley grain artisan bread. The hot pot is very good – loads of beef and great gravy but it really needs more root vegetables. Rock is having the Orkney cheddar & Dark Island Reserve quiche served with salad and fries (Dark Island Reserve has been voted the best dark beer in the world – very strong, quite sweet but very fine indeed!).
We decide to share the Dragonhead cake. It is a great decision. It is a moist, intense chocolate cake for grown-ups, flavoured with Dragonhead ale and topped with cream cheese frosting. We have enjoyed great service from Joyce & Michelle and the Dragonhead cake has given us a fabulous finish to a lunch for beer lovers. The Orkney Brewery has simply reminded us that there is always more for us to learn…