Budding Beer Trends: 0% to Cannabis

Strange things are happening in the world of beer…

The drinks industry has always been a very fluid, fast moving world.

New fads rise and fall before brewers are given a chance to fully test their creations, making it seem like a risky endeavour to attempt any kind of groundbreaking exercise. That is often the case for large scale producers who tend to fear messing with any formulas at the risk of alienating their dedicated audience. Such a problem does not affect smaller scale brewers and ambitious start-ups who are able to build their brand on the basis of such trends.

Cannabis Beer that won’t get you drunk.

As more and more states in America move to legalise cannabis, drinks manufacturers are pouncing on the chance to be the first brand to popularise the incorporation of the drug into craft beer.

Keith Villa is a man to whom many will need no introduction. Spending 32-years with the drinks giant that is MolsonCoors, he is attributed as the creator of Blue Moon, the iconic Belgian style witbier that fooled the world, masquerading as a craft beer whilst spawning the industry at the same time. After stepping down from the Big Beer brand, Keith has gone into business with his wife Jodi to create a company that is dedicated to ‘the creation of custom and cannabis-infused non-alcoholic craft beer’. Put simply – the man who got the world drunk on ‘craft beer’ now wants to get you high instead.

The company is yet to release its first brew so we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store, but needless to say, it will shake the American drinks and cannabis market to its core. If you’re impatient to taste some cannabis-fuelled beer for yourself then you can always give High Flyer try. It’s the UK’s first cannabis beers, utilising the legal CBD (Cannabidiol) to create a 4.3% session-ale that reportedly grants some of the therapeutic benefits of the drug.

Alcohol-Free beer that actually tastes good.

It’s estimated that there has been a 20.5% rise in the sale of 0% or alcohol-free beer in the last year with total sales estimated at around £34.7m for the year.

There are a few reasons behind this shift in popularity – it’s important to remember, after all, that this kind of beverage has long been sneered down upon for it’s seemingly inferior taste. Thanks to ever advancing techniques in brewing methods and equipment, the quality of alcohol-free beers has risen and demand along with it, if the statistics are to be trusted. Additionally, with the advent of social movements such as ‘Dry January‘ and the decline in Millennial drinkers it has become apparent that consumers are more aware of the damaging effect that alcohol can have on the body and are now seeking for alternatives to their usual beverages.

In response to this dramatic increase in popularity, a number of brewers have stepped up to meet this demand including start-ups like Infinite Session and Big Drop Brew who cater specifically to the alcohol-free market, developing award winning beers that have been recognised for their excellence in flavour, despite containing no more than 0.5% volume alcohol. So how are these small craft companies capable of creating such flavoursome beverages where other bigger companies are still failing?

The trick is a complete restructuring of the brewing process. In the case of traditional low-alcohol beers, brewers will take a fully formed beer and strip the alcohol from it, a process that many claim also removes the flavour profile of the beer, resulting in a flat, dull tasting beverage. The brewers from these up and coming independent companies try a different tack. They develop their o.5% beers from the ground up, building the flavour profile in line with the beer’s alcohol-free nature thus retaining the kind of flavour that drinkers prefer.

Despite the consumer being on their side, they will have pro-Big Beer lobbyists and the multi-nationals behind them to contend with. Only time will tell if these pioneering start-ups succeed in their quest for producing these innovative beers.

Drinking Ales in the Forest of Bowland

There are Pints Galore in Bowland!

A Stunning Landscape Full of Excellent Pubs…

Although the Forest of Bowland is pretty much 200 miles away from Forth Valley, this huge expanse of rugged fields and woods is home to some of the best pubs in England. Rugged 17th century inns rub shoulders with tidy modern establishments, making for a veritable odyssey of real ale fun.

The Inn At Whitewell

Credit: @Tessa

There are few public houses that can rival The Inn at Whitewell for its sheer grandeur and old world charm. Nestled in the tiny village of Whitewell, visiting this pub is akin to taking a step back in time. Although this 18th century inn has been restored more than a handful of times it is yet to lose its unique character, something that you could say is ingrained into the very fabric of the building. The food here is excellent and the beers (usually locally sourced) are very well kept.

Crowtrees Inn

Credit: @Tracy Roe

Even older still, the 17th century Crow Trees Inn now finds itself within the caravan holiday park Bowland Fell. Although overtly discerning ale drinkers might baulk at the idea of walking by park homes for sale in Yorkshire on the way to pick up their pint, the truth is that this is one of the hidden gems of the Forest of Bowland. Boasting a healthy lineup of local beers including brews from Settle Brewery, Lancaster The Brewery and Bowland Brewery – static homes or not, this is a great place to find a pint at.

Fenwick Arms

Credit: @The Fenwick

Conveniently places on the only main road running through the AONB, the Fenwick Arms has a truly unique selling point in its excellent selection of seafood. Less than 10 miles from the coast, this popular stopping point for travellers serves wonderfully fresh seafood in a well-presented historical setting. Although the Fenwick brands itself as a ‘Seafood and Steak Pub‘ this undersells the well poured lineup of beers that they frequently have on offer; well worth a stop-off on your road trip.

Bowland Beer Hall

Credit: @gemmawoodlondon

Owned by James’ Places, the firm behind Shireburn Arms and the grand Royal Hotel, the Bowland Beer Hall is one of the longest bars in the UK at a stonking 105ft 4″. This is less a pub and more of a permanent beer festival, as the bar is home to a minimum of 24 unique cask ales at any one time. You can track down the full range of Bowland Brewery beers here, as well as a whole host of other brews including lagers and ciders. This is a truly flexible venue, ideal for a few cosy pints or a full-on Bavarian style drinking marathon.

Parkers Arms

Credit: @Terry

One of the most celebrated pubs in the region, we’d be remiss not to mention Parkers Arms, a perfectly situated pub that continues to win numerous awards for both their hospitality and their food alike. Although you could be forgiven for losing your way to this charming pub (phone/GPS signal is known to drop out in this area) you’ll be glad once you’ve made your way there. The landscape in this are can be truly breathtaking, making the journey there all apart of the end experience.

Our Pick of 2018’s Scottish Beer Festivals

Scottish Beer Festivals to get stuck into.

Thinking about taking a trip up to see us? Then why not coincide it with one of these excellent Scottish Beer Festivals.

Beer festivals are a thing of rare beauty. Executed properly you have all the ingredients to create a truly magical weekend. Luckily for you, we’ve got the lowdown on the very best beer festivals that Scotland has to offer. The events that we’ve included might be a bit of a distance for any Forth Valley local to venture out to, but they all have one thing in common: truly excellent beer.

The common beer festival has had a long time to change over the years. Where once it would have been as simple as a single barrel of ale in a tent, it has now transformed into a self-sustaining industry. Although many consider the CAMRA curated beer festivals as the purest form of the event, many younger pretenders have come to challenge for this crown; our list cherry-picks the best of both worlds:

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival

This relatively young festival is attempting to shake things up a little bit. Aimed at a younger, middle-class clientele; the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival is designed to be a non-fussy beer event that gives you instant access to dozens of brewers from across the UK as well as all their lovely beer.

So what’s their hook? One ticket gives the eager drinker an opportunity to drink 6 pints of whichever beer they desire as well as access to street food and music acts.

How much? £35 per session. When? 25th-27th May 2018.

Perth Beer Festival

Over the last few years Perth Beer Festival has evolved from just a simple one-session event to a huge family event that has proven to be a huge success.

The town of Perth is a bright and lively one, with the festival itself taking place on the open stretch of land known as the North Inch. The beer list is typically excellent this year, with many exciting new brewers lining up to sell their wares to the thirsty punters. Stay for the weekend and you can enjoy the Comedy Night on the Friday, the Dog Show on the Saturday day session and then the live music in the evening!

How much? £20 for each event. When? 11th-12th May 2018.

Paisley Beer Festival

Organised and run by the Renfrewshire branch of CAMRA, this long-running beer festival has been held in Paisley Town Hall pretty much annually for over thirty years. In fact, 2018’s Paisley Beer Festival will be the 31st edition of the popular event and they’ve learnt a thing or two over the years. Expect an unmanageable wealth of beers on offer, as well as a generous side-serving of foreign beers, ciders and wines – for those who would rather taste something from further afield.

How much? £6 for non-CAMRA members. £4 for members. When? 25th-28th April 2018.

Fyne Fest

Founded in 2010, FyneFest is organised by well-established brewers Fyne Ales and whilst you’re obviously going to find their whole range of excellent beers on offer, you’ll also be able to grab fresh pints from some of the best up and coming British brewers. In addition to keeping the British ales flowing all day, the organisers also schedule timed tapping beers, providing discerning drinkers with the opportunity of trying out a rare European brew.

How much? From £47.50 for a Day Ticket with no camping. When? 1st-3rd June 2018.