I know it's been a while since Christmas and the festive season, but we've been hard at it in the brewery with plenty of beer going out in lots of different tankers, casks, kegs and bottles. I took a few days off over Hogmanay and had a lovely time in the Black Isle with the Lady Arlene and her family. Hogmanay itself was very pleasant indeed with a visit to the pictures in Eden Court, Inverness, to see Life of Pi (2D) - an excellent interpretation of the best-selling book - followed by great grub and grog at the Castle Tavern featuring our thirst-quenching Thrappledouser and the hearty and robust Lia Fail. Then over the River Ness to a crackin' outside concert with the Treacherous Orchestra, Big Country and Skerryvore. We snuck off to see the bells in at our lodgings for the night before a glowing fire and some fine uisge beatha.
Above you can see my personal haul of beer-related Xmas goodies. Garret Oliver's wonderfully informative Brewmaster's Table - fascinating reading with some inspiring food and beer ideas. He's an interesting and interested writer with a superb turn of phrase and throws a good deal of light on to the American brewing story. From early spruce beers through Washington, Jefferson and the 19th century pre-eminence of Brooklyn as a brewing town (a good water supply being paramount), continuing on through Prohibition - such a sadness - and up to the present day. A lovely and worthwhile treasure.
My sister Fiona, who lives by Helston in Cornwall, sent up the beautiful print of Spingo Christmas Cracker from Helston's Blue Anchor Pub Brewery. A frame is being sought as I write and a space found on the wall in the sitting-room. A fine accompaniment it shall be to the third of my beery gifts - a delightful limited edition ceramic relief from Fife artist Hilke Macintyre which proudly displays admiration and anticipation of the foaming brew. Thank you, Arlene.
Meanwhile, back on the brewery floor, more excitement ensues with the very recent addition of our three new 30 barrel triple-purpose vessels. Triple-purpose because they can be used for fermentation, conditioning and carbonating bright beer for kegging. They are dish-bottomed with the dish underneath, as we call the shape of the underside, exactly the same profile as the domed lid. The relatively flat centre of the dish, where the inlet/outlet lies, is ideal for letting the flocculating and sedimenting yeast and proteinaceous trub settle out, without dragging it all through to the casks, filter or kegs. Below is a shot of our very own Three Wise Men, Richard, Malc and Duncan, standing in front of our new members of staff with their proper names - Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar - our Three Kings, each with his gift, but instead of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, we have Fermentation, Conditioning and Carbonating Pressure!