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Lock Ness Brewery launches blackberry beer

The Loch Ness Brewery has teamed up with soft fruit experts from the James Hutton Institute near Dundee and a Fife berry farmer to create a new blackberry beer.

The Loch Ness Brewery is attached to the Benleva Hotel on the shores of Loch Ness. Brothers Allan and Stephen Crossland designed it to brew local beers for the hotel's pub.

Tapping into the growing niche market not just for craft beers but also for fruited brews, the new Berry LochNESS beer was born out of a dispute over use of the Loch Ness name. The Drumnadrochit-based brewery has been trading since 2011 under the Loch Ness name, and Loch Ness blackberries were developed and launched in 1989 by the James Hutton Institute – a world-leading, multi-site scientific organisation encompassing a distinctive range of integrated strengths in land, crop, waters, environmental and socio-economic science.

A phone call and some explanation not only resolved any brewing issues but also soon turned into a conversation about the possibilities of teaming the namesake products to make something new that would create profile for both firms and for their respective industries. Micro-brewing in Scotland, as elsewhere, is booming and the scientists from the James Hutton Institute have a prodigious track record in developing some of the world's leading soft fruit varieties.

Jonathan Snape, MD of James Hutton Limited, commercial affiliate of the James Hutton Institute, says: "It’s great to be able to create a product that teams many aspects of Scotland’s resources to make something new and of top quality: great fruit, bred and grown in Scotland, our pure, abundant water and our home-grown barley and brewing expertise." 

Late in the growing season, Fife berry farmer Robert Simpson came up trumps with a large enough harvest of the Loch Ness blackberries to make a viable batch of beer. The result is a classic traditional Scottish 80/-, produced from a blend of five different malts to give a big biscuit and chocolate flavour. The addition of Loch Ness blackberries softens these malty flavours, and gives the beer a gentle sweet finish rather than the drier finish of the original LochNESS beer on which it’s based.

Berry LochNESS is now available in specialist outlets.

Stephen Crossland of Loch Ness Brewery echoed Dr Snape’s view, adding: “We welcome the opportunity to develop new, niche brews for a market that is growing and evolving and think this latest recipe is one that will help win our beer new fans.”

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute have recently started small scale experiments to see if it would be possible to create a variety of hops that could be grown viably in Scotland – much further north than its normal range – with a view to giving beer-makers the full set of brewing ingredients sourced from Scotland.

In the meantime we can enjoy the fruits of more recent labours and toast future success with a glass of the LochNESS blackberry special.

13 April 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor