Harviestoun. Maybe a controversial choice due to their connection with Caledonian, but that doesn't stop them making good beers. The brewery started operations in 1985 and have moved in 2004 to their present location in Alva, Scotland. They are known Worldwide for Schiehallion, their cask lager which in bottled form is exported globally. This beer has won four silvers and three golds in its class at GBBF. However it's not their most decorated beer as Bitter and Twisted has won Champion Beer of Scotland twice, Champion Beer Of Britain once and a SIBA Supreme Champion of Scotland award. Both these beers are delicately hopped and full of flavour. My personal favourite though is Old Engine Oil, a 6% dark beer based on a 1970s recipe. This beer is full of malty flavours as well as licquorice and chocolate. It is sheer quality!
Oakham is another multi award winning brewery. Formed in 1993 in the small town in Rutland after which it is named, they expanded and moved to Peterborough in 1998. They really need no introduction, but their JHB (Jeffrey Hudson Bitter) won Champion Beer Of Britain in 2002. Oakham make good use of American hops in their beers, particularly Mount Hood and Willamette, and it is pale hoppy beers for which they have become famous; Bishops Farewell being a stronger fuller flavoured golden ale. I used to think Oakham was a bit of a one trick pony, brewing lovely beers but not really diversifying. That was until I tried Hawse Buckler, a stunning 5.5% Porter which came out at the back end of 2006. If Oakham can brew dark beers this good as well as their goldens then they truly are a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to future occasional dark beers.
Roosters was probably my favourite Britsh brewery back in the 1990s. They are based in Knaresborough in North Yorkshire and commenced brewing in 1993. As well as the Roosters label they brew short run beers under the name Outlaw and over a typical year they will brew many different beers including festival specials. Roosters makes a big deal of brewing with quality ingredients, and all their beers are wonderfully aromatic. My particular favourite is Yankee, an excellent beer with lovely citrus flavours and aromas which is possibly the most moreish beer brewed in these islands. Other beers of distinction are Oyster Stout, and Leghorn.
Thornbridge is based at Thornbridge Hall in the picturesque village of Ashford-in-the-Water in Derbyshire, and is a collaboration with Kelham Island. They commenced brewing in October 2004 and quickly picked up a big reputation. Their beers are big on flavour, even their two 2.9% milds Pollux and Kastor are said to be outstanding beers. Their most well known, and the winners of most awards are the 5.9% IPA, Jaipur and the 7.7% Imperial Stout St Petersburg. Both of these are wonderfully brewed classy beers. They are also brewing other IPAs based on US West Coast hops. it is little wonder that one of the brewers at BrewDog (see yesterday) cut his teeth here.
Williams Bros is the tenth brewery on the list. This Scottish brewery was formed in 2003 and inherited the recipes from Heather Ales. With this came an excellent portfolio including Alba, Ebulum and Fraoch, brewed with Scots Pine, Elderberry and Heather respectively. These are all interesting beers using interesting ingredients, but they are executed very well. It's not just these quirky beers that Williams are good at though. Their Black, Gold and Joker 5 are also excellent beers. With such a diverse repertoire of beers Williams fully deserves to be on this list.
So that's the full ten, and for me is an excellent list of producers of many different styles from ancient recipes, through standard English bitters to modern beers using copious amounts of US hops. As I said yesterday, no one will agree with all ten on this list, but maybe your favourite is on here. Tomorrow I will discuss the near misses and those bubbling under.