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There's a chap in Edinburough brewing traditional heather ale again; don't know if anyone knows. It's quite a decent pint actually.
I will have to try that if you can remember the name, Fraoch (if that is the right spelling) is a nice beer, and is sold as Heather ale. I am pretty sure you could ferment anything: dandilion and burdock beer if I remember an episode of River Cottage rightly. Although I have tried, and there must be a subtle line between a good pint and a cup of sludge, which was always the outcome for me following ancient ingredients!!!
Oh halp, no I can't remember (It wasn't my first pint that evening, nor the last). It was featured on Oz and James Drink to Britain quite recently though; it should still be on BBC Iplayer? Couple of local guys started making beer basically from whatever they could scrummage on the moors and got surprisingly succesful.
Tried making elderberry wine once, my first and only expedition into the world of brewing. It ended rather... explosively. And that stuff stains.
It's not quite as big as Up-Helly-Aa, but in my new job, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, on Beltane several people carry torches up one of the Lomond Hills (in Fife, not the Trossachs one), and have a bit of tasty heather ale at the top. I'm getting involved with it this year; sounds very interesting :D
As I say it's not as big and proffessional as Up-Helly-Aa or anything like that, but it should be fun!
If you want some exposure for the event Urisk you could write a short piece about it and we'll post it in our Gazetteer and festivals section. You could then add to it with comments and photographs after the event.
The same goes for anyone with a festival they want to promote.
Ooh! Sounds great Ian! :D That'd be cool. We're making the torches in April, so I'll get photaes of that too.
On the Brewers that make the "Fraoch" ale's website you can buy a nifty gift pack with a nice clay/earthenware drinking cup. I've been meaning to buy that for a long time now...
There was a celtic brewer who lived in the land of the Caldones in Scotland. His was the most famous ale in all the land, having the effect of transporting one to another world when drinking it. Heather Ale, or Fraoch, it was called. Now Fraoch is an old, old word for the heather, and no one knows from whence it came, except that it wasn't in the time of anyone living, nor yet from the time of any celt. Legend had it that the name, and the secret for brewing the ale came from the race of little people that lived in the land before the Celts ever came there. But that is neither here nor there. However, it was true that the ale was a sacred brew, and only the one brewer and his son knew the secret for the brewing of it.
Now it came to pass, in the time of the Romans, that a certain legionary captured this brewer and his son, and realising that he held the only two men with the secret of the fabulous Heather Ale, he took him back to camp, with the intention of torturing his victims so that they might reveal their craft to him. He began with the Brewer himself, who fair to say, lasted long into the night without divulging his secret. But along about dawn, he confessed to the Roman that the only thing stopping him from revealing the secret was the shame he would feel if his young son should hear him tell it.
The legionary calmly turned to the young boy, and slit his throat with one fell swipe of his sword!
"Tell me now your secret, old man" he cried. "For your son is dead and cannot hear you now, nor ever again in this life.
The old brewer smiled, and replied "You may kill me fast, or you may kill me slow, but I will die without ever giving you the secret, knowing full well I am the only man alive who has it now. My only fear was that my son would not have been able to keep the secret when you turned your torture on him".
This is why the Fraoch will never be tasted in Scotland again. Unless the little people return, and choose to divulge the secret again.
The castle, now a romantic ruin, is reputed to be one of the most haunted in the British Isles. It has numerous legends associated with it, and although now only a shell of its former glory, it retains an air of its troubled history.
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