06 August 2015

Windswept Brewing Co, Lossiemouth

The Moray coast
Lossiemouth, Moray, is 44 miles from Inverness on the North East coast of Scotland. RAF Lossiemouth is an important fast jet main operating base with both Tornado and Typhoon squadrons based there. Windswept Brewing Co is based in Coulardbank industrial estate on the edge of Lossiemouth and within earshot of aircraft noise from the RAF station.

Al Read and Nigel Tiddy, former RAF (Tornado) pilots enjoyed the outdoor life on the wild and unspoilt coast and nearby Highlands and established West Beach Brewery in 2012. The name was changed to Windswept Brewing in November 2012 due to legal problems.

Al Read in Windswept Brewery yard.
My visit to the brewery with locally based friends on 30 July 2015 had been arranged in advance and Natassia Barksby told us about the brewery and the beers in the white portacabin office and shop opposite the two main brewery units.
Natassia Barksby kindly posed with a West Berkshire Ullage magazine
The bottle range currently includes: APA a 5% ABV American Pale Ale hopped with Columbus, Willamette and Cascade; Blonde and Wolf in 500ml bottles and Weizen, Tornado (6.7% Citra IPA) and Typhoon (6.2% Amarillo IPA) in 330ml bottles. Wolf of Glen Moray, 9.2% ABV, aged in oak whisky casks, is also available in a special 330ml bottle pack.
Windswept Brewing Co has won several awards including SIBA Scotland Gold for APA and Wolf in 2013. APA went on to win SIBA National Bronze in the 2014 Champion Strong Bitters category.  Weizen was awarded Overall Champion award at the 2014 CAMRA Aberdeen and North East Beer Festival.
APA - label on back of bottle
Back in the brewery yard, Al Read (Director of Operations) told us about his interest in brewing that started with homebrewing. On a three year exchange visit to North Carolina (2003-6), Al discovered interesting new beers that were not generally available in the UK. An American navigator on an exchange stay in Lossiemouth who had experience of competition brewing was also an inspiration for Al. Visiting local breweries like Cairngorm and Cromarty he realised that apart from the scale there was no major difference between home brewing and commercial brewing. Al developed his tasting skills on CAMRA courses and with the Craigellachie Real Ale Club. He was invited to be a judge for the Champion Beer of Scotland and there he found that his tasting notes were similar to those of the experts. Al said that drinking beer socially in clubs and groups was an important factor in developing his tasting skills.
Al had brewery work to do so he left us with Natassia to take a look inside the brewery.
Assistant brewer, Doug Russell, digging out the mash tun
The success of the brewery has led to a requirement for more space. The brewery started in a single unit with the office inside. Later, a mezzanine level was added and the adjacent unit was acquired. The portacabin and space in the yard were added and there are now plans to add a third unit to give space for a bottling plant. There are two 10 barrel and four 20 barrel fermenters and a fifth one will be added. The kettle (copper), the middle vessel in the photo above, is 10 barrel capacity. The hot liquor tank is in the far corner. The spent grains from the mash tun end up going to a local farmer as compost for the sandy Moray soil.
Marooned, Blonde, APA and Aurora mini kegs for tasting
Natassia fetched some mini kegs so we could taste some of the beers including Blonde, APA and Marooned, a seasonal 5.2% ABV blackcurrant wheat beer. Marooned was maroon in colour, lively with a refreshing slightly sour flavour. We returned to the portacabin to purchase a mixed pack of six bottled beers to enjoy later.
Natassia told us about the music and beer festivals that the brewery is involved with including Moktoberfest in Elgin Town Hall, North Hop in Inverness and sponsorship of Speyfest at Fochabers.
Kirsty McLeod handles exports with beers from Windswept Brewing being exported to distributors in Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, France and Andorra.
Before leaving I had a chance for a quick chat with lead brewer, Charlotte Cook. Charlotte said her favourite beer from the brewery is Wolf, the 6% ABV dark strong Scottish ale named after the Wolf of Bladenoch, infamous for burning down Elgin cathedral. She also mentioned that brewing a Russian Imperial Stout, for ageing in whisky casks, is planned.
Calum Stewart Trio on the 'Windswept Stage', Speyfest, 31/7/15
My friends and I would have another chance to tast Windswept beers the following evening at Speyfest in Fochabers where the highlight of the Friday night musical entertainment was a performance by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham.
The Windswept Brewing bar, mounted on whisky barrels, was set up in a corner of the separate bar marquee. Brewery staff behind the bar included Kirsty McLeod (left) and Marketing Manager, Julie Smith (centre). Pam was disappointed that the seasonal Marooned blackcurrant wheat beer was not ready to be served but I was happy to find my favourite, APA, was available. Later I enjoyed my first pint of Wolf, one of the few Windswept beers I had not sampled by this stage!

Website: windsweptbrewing.com

Windswept Brewing Co
Unit B
13 Coulardbank Industrial Estate
IV31 6NG

Email: info@windsweptbrewing.co.uk
Brewery: 01343 814310

1 comment:

  1. I attended a few company events here and I must say that I was impressed every time. The Chicago event space was aesthetically pleasing with very good decorations and seats. The place had a great layout overall, and was at a comfortable temperature.