Sunday, January 22, 2012

Drinking, Again: Bitter & Twisted (review)

Beer reviews

An occasional series of reviews of beer (and wine and spirits).
No scores; only descriptions.

From Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland: Bitter & Twisted. Here, served, hand-pulled cask-conditioned —across the ocean— at Rustico Restaurant, in Alexandria, Virginia. 20 January 2012.

In a cultural cross-pollination, Rustico served this Scottish cask ale in a Stange, a 0.2 liter German glass (just under 8 fluid ounces), traditionally used to serve kegged Kölsch beer.

Cask glass of Bitter & Twisted

Harviestoun itself has engaged in a bit of cross-pollination. It bittered and flavored Bitter & Twisted with with Styrian Goldings and Hersbrucker, two noble hops from central Europe, more commonly found in lagers. The hops gave a bright lemony character, not the overwrought grapefruit juice 'blunderbuss' of so many U.S. cask ales. The aroma is chased by a fresh yeasty flavor, a hint of biscuity malt, more of that lemony flavor, and a firm finish (again from the hops). At 4.2% alcohol-by-volume, Bitter & Twisted is both 'sessionable' and more-ish.

In 2003, the beer was crowned Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival.

harviestoun bitter & twisted

Full-flavored, but elegant. Hops part of the flavor, rather than the only flavor. Alcohol at a level which invites another. Now, that's what I wish more U.S. cask ales would aspire to be.


  • A past official of the Ford Motor Company founded Harviestoun in 1985, in Clackmannanshire, Scotland. In 2006, the brewery was purchased by Caledonian Brewery. It became independent again, two years later, when Caledonian was purchased by Scottish & Newcastle, itself owned jointly by by Heineken and Carlsberg. The international conglomerates wanted nothing to do with small Harviestoun and its cask ales. Our gain!
  • Read more on the practise of cask ale in the U.S. at CaskAleUSA.
  • Drinking Again is a series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits). The graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

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