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Best craft breweries and brewpubs in the Highlands and Moray to celebrate International Beer Day 2021


By Federica Stefani

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International Beer Day is celebrated every first Friday of August. Picture: Adobe Stock.
International Beer Day is celebrated every first Friday of August. Picture: Adobe Stock.

Refreshing, chocolaty, hoppy, fizzy, fruity and sweet or face-contorting sours...no, we haven’t just stepped in a sweet shop, but in terms of enjoyment and flavours, we are really close - today is all about the queen of hops, her majesty the beer.

Today is in fact the first Friday of August, which marks International Beer Day.

An event celebrated since 2007 when it was conceived by Jesse Avshalomovn in California, the date is an occasion to celebrate one of the world’s most ancient and most beloved alcoholic beverages.

The initiative (http://internationalbeerday.com/) aims to promote all things beer and particularly, as quoted on their website:

To gather with friends and enjoy the deliciousness that is beer.

To celebrate the dedicated men and women who brew and serve our beer.

To bring the world together by celebrating the beers of all nations and cultures on this one remarkable day.

Beer’s story goes back millenia when different people scattered in different areas of the world discovered (most likely by accident at first) the effects of fermentation on cereals and giving the diverse and multifaceted brewing landscape we have today.

Many of these delicious, small batch craft breweries have also been popping up in the Highlands and Moray: if you fancy a journey through the pint glass to celebrate today, here are some of our favourite producers.

Black Isle Brewery

Black Isle Brewery - inside the brewery..Black Isle Brewery new stuff.Picture: SPP. Image No. 041086..
Black Isle Brewery - inside the brewery..Black Isle Brewery new stuff.Picture: SPP. Image No. 041086..

An institution in the area, Black Isle Brewery has been around for over twenty years, wielding the flag of organic and environmentally-friendly production. Its founder David Gladwin is passionate about the environment and methods to produce a variety of ales from more traditional styles to funky experimental ones. They also have taprooms (with wood oven pizzas) both in Inverness and Fort William, where you can enjoy their own products or taste some brews from around the world.

Spey Valley Brewery

Picture: Lyn MacDonald. Image No.037264.
Picture: Lyn MacDonald. Image No.037264.

Founded in 2007 by a distiller and a local farmer, Spey Valley Brewery was the first commercial “micro” brewery to be located in the heart of Speyside. Producing from their farm in Mulben, between Rothes and Keith. They have gone from strength to strength in the past decade they produce different styles from their Spey Stout to the light American session IPA Sunshine on Keith.

Cairngorm Brewery

Samantha Faircliff ,Cairngorm Brewery....Picture: SPP photographer.
Samantha Faircliff ,Cairngorm Brewery....Picture: SPP photographer.

Located in the mountain resort of Aviemore, Cairngorm Brewery is a well-established reality in Strathspey and you can easily spot its products in shops and pubs across Scotland.

The brewery not only produces the flagship Cairngorm Brewery ales but also produces the range under the name of Loch Ness Brewery.

The perfect end to a summer hike or a day on the snowboard.

John o’ Groats Brewery

The new visitor centre at John o' Groats Brewery.
The new visitor centre at John o' Groats Brewery.

John O’Groats Brewery is a relatively new venture, launched in 2015 from an old Fire station in John o’Groats. Their ales had a good success and they moved in 2019 to the oldest building in John O’ Groats, The Last House, which has been fully renovated and offers a lovely visitor experience. It is also the northernmost brewery on mainland UK.

Windswept Brewery

Windswept brewery tours and tastings. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
Windswept brewery tours and tastings. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

Located in the lovely seaside town of Lossiemouth, Windswept has been around since 2012, they have an impressive variety of styles for a small producer, with some bold experiments like their Werewolf (chilli-infused stout) and a 5k running tour option. They also have a lovely taproom where you can taste their ales and get a woodfired pizza at weekends. Lovely to pair with a walk on a beach.

Cromarty Brewing Company

Craig Middleton at a Cromarty Brewery stand. .Picture: Alison White.
Craig Middleton at a Cromarty Brewery stand. .Picture: Alison White.

Back to the Black Isle, we head to Cromarty Brewing. Sitting on the south of the Cromarty Firth, this brewery has been around since 2011 and if you are a fan of bold, hoppy flavours, this is a place for you. Among their core range is Happy Chappy (a New Wave Pale ale) and Red Rocke - a red rye IPA, along with some very interesting limited editions.

Wooha Brewing Company

Opened in 2015 but based in a Kinloss farm since 2017, Wooha brewing is a young and fresh craft brewery, bringing a selection of well crafted classics such as their Hello Friday Session Pale Ale or Rauch N Roll Porter.

Plockton Brewery

International beer day is also about supporting small independent businesses -and Plockton Brewery is truly on the small scale! A nano-brewery opened in 2007 by former Royal Navy Officer Andy Will, it’s a very homely business, with staple flavours such as Crag’s Ale and Starboard Regatta Ale. Pick-up or deliveries, but better to phone-in first!

Keith Brewery

Keith Brewery. .Picture: Gair Fraser.
Keith Brewery. .Picture: Gair Fraser.

Another craft brewery based in Keith, they took over where Brewmeister Brewery left off and produce a good variety of styles- from lager and coffee stout to a raspberry beer and barley wine.

Enjoy responsibly!


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