Friday, February 21, 2014

Snowdrops and sunlight

Cycling home from the brewery this afternoon, I watched a flight of oystercatchers head for their roost, for the first time in months in sunlight, as the days are drawing out with the Winter Solstice well behind us and Spring on its way. I was heading under the old bridge over the River Almond (as in Inveralmond) a couple of hundred yards from the brewery, when I suddenly saw beside me a host of ivory snowdrops which had flourished and blossomed this week.

I had to stop and take a picture as for me snowdrops represent the beginning of Spring, along with that most marvellous of birds (in my humble opinion), the Oystercatcher. These two Signifiers of Spring return to the banks of the Almond during the same week every year and it's a great filip to the soul hard-pressed by the extremes of Winter, bringing their lightness and brightness to the riverbank and meadow. The Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) comes through the soil by the river, where its bulb has been more often  than not (and weeks at a time!) deep under the winter rainwater and snowmelt, breaking out with bright alabaster white and vivid green on a background of washed out withered grass and heath.

The charming Oystercatcher (Haemotopus ostralegus), immacutely turned out in his exceedingly smart black and white plumage, brings his own colour to the drabness of the scene with his bright orange-rimmed red eyes, orange legs and beak. The high-pitched shrill cheep-cheep sounds out its cheeriness as the bird wings swiftly through the air looking for its mate, with whom it mates for life. We have two pairs who nest at the brewery every year - one pair at the front and the other at the back.

Spring is also the time for us in the brewery to get on with brewing this year's beers - our regular Duncan's IPA, a blond bitter beer tipping its head to the IPAs of the past, and our newly-vamped Tighthead Ale brewed specially for the 6 Nations Rugby tournament - scrum-ptious! As well as these two, brewed just today, our own brand-new offering to the Wetherspoon's Spring Beer Festival - Marzenfest - a malty deep golden ale with luscious, biscuity malty notes on the palate from the toasted Munich malt and hints of springtime buds and trees flushing with their newly unfurled leaves from the sweet Brewer' Gold hops on the nose. Prosit!

Just makes me want to have a beer right now writing about it, so I'll pour myself a glass of Homecoming...why don't you do the same? 
Cheers, Slàinte and welcome to Spring!