Scone with the Wind

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Image sourced from Beerpulse.com

Apricot-flavored ales are not a new thing. While not the first fruit beers to exist, they are perhaps the first to become popular in a Canadian market. Most are just fruity enough to be refreshing, but not so cloyingly sweet as to be labeled a “girly-beer”. Edmonton folk may be unlikely to try another kind, loyal to their Alley Kat’s signature Aprikat. Which is understandable to a former Edmontonian, yet unfortunate as there are others deserving equal attention.

Case in point, the Apricot Ale from Pyramid Brewery in Seattle, brewed with nugget hops and a 1:1 ratio of barley and wheat. Did I mention this one won a gold medal in the Fruit, Vegetable Beer category at the Great American Beer Festival®?

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More recently, I stumbled upon Sweet Heat by Burnside Brewing Company. This one happens to be an apricot ale with apricots and peppers. Name something from Portland that isn’t weird. This one I found especially sour, with an intensely spicy (and slightly painful) finish that coats back of the tongue. I liked it. Others were less fond.

Others include the Apricot Wheat from St. Ambroise out of Montreal and Apricotopus from Parallel 49. The name itself makes this beer deserving of a try.

Bake the following scones with one of the latter brews. Maybe even pour some in the batter. And pronounce them correctly – the title of this article may assist you with that particular task.

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Apricot Ale Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots (about 4 1/2 ounces)

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup apricot or wheat beer

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add apricots and 1 tablespoon orange peel and stir to mix.
  3. Slowly pour in whipping cream and beer. Stir just until dough forms.
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently just until dough holds together.
  5. With your hands coated in flour, form dough into 10-inch-diameter, 1/2-inch-thick round. Cut into 12 wedges. Transfer wedges to large baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  6. Brush scones with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  7. Bake scones until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool slightly.
  8. Serve scones warm or at room temperature. With an apricot beer. Or tea if it’s still before 10:00AM.

Makes 12 scones

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

Speyside Craft Brewery

For readers less-familiar with my recent activities, I haSpeysign1ve recently spent two weeks travelling through Scotland. Today I’d like to tell you about one of our greatest accidents of the excursion. After all, you can’t have an adventure without a mishap or two.

Speyside is one of, if not my absolute, favorite regions of Scotland. Not only do you have the highest concentration of Scotch distilleries, but each town you visit has its own character and charm.

My partner-in-crime and I had planned to visit the Highland Games at Gordon Castle in Fochabers on our last day in the highlands. Not only did we (and by we, I mean he) have to drive through 20 roundabouts on the left-hand side of the road, but we were sidetracked along the way.

I’m very easily distracted. Especially by beer. “Look! A brewery!” I exclaim as we pass through the town of Forres, begging my chauffeur to go investigate.

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Image courtesy Speyside Craft Brewery.
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Image courtesy Speyside Craft Brewery.

A man stood outside the door on his phone, his yellow pants matching the door and the trim of the building.We slowly drive up to the door and notice the “closed sign”. As we start to drive away, the man in the yellow pants waves at us to stay. We roll down our window to hear him say, “Hey, do you guys want to come have a look around?” He hangs up his phone and unlocks the door.

The man later introduced himself as Seb, and gave us an impromptu tour of the brewery. In only its second year of operation, the Speyside Craft Brewery is becoming a local gem in Scotland’s burgeoning craft beer scene. We were just a few weeks late to attend the second of their beer festivals, complete with music and food. Seb offered us a taste of their newest seasonal, and sent us on our way with some brewery swag.

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My kind of souvenirs.

The name of each lager and ale is crafted with a nod to local character and legend. Even the logo with its adorning cetaceans is reminiscent of the Moray Firth where many tourists flock to catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two. We went home with a bottle of their signature IPA – the marker of a good brewery. Named after the small county between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands that the Speyside Brewery calls home, this IPA is rich and malty, not unlike another of Scotland’s beloved beverages.

The river Findhorn.
The river Findhorn.
Just a big ole' rock.
Just a big ole’ rock.

Likewise, Speyside’s signature lager, Randolph’s Leap, is named after an iconic gorge along the river Findhorn where the rock banks are closest together. Legend has it that Thomas Randolph, the new Earl of Moray, was once chasing a local clan leader that had attempted to raid his castle in Darnaway. Alistair Cumming, supposedly leapt across the gorge to ensure the freedom . I guess “Cumming’s Leap” didn’t have the same ring to it. Nevertheless, it’s quite a romantic spot to go hiking so long as you bring enough snacks to avoid your travel companion becoming hangry.

It wasn’t until later in our journey we cracked open the IPA. We had brought it along into our hike up the Eildon Hills in the Scottish Borders. However, not needing a set of keys the entire time meant there was an unexpected consequence – we didn’t have the bottle opener that was usually attached to the keychain. Luckily, there were a few craggy rocks around to use as a fulcrum.

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It’s less comfy than it looks.

Is it somewhere I’d recommend a fellow traveller to visit, or at least seek out in a pub? Absolutely. Do I wish they exported to Canada? Absolutely.

Guess we’ll just have to go back and visit. Check out the Speyside story, learn about the region, and plan your visit at their website here.

Introduction

Image courtesy Midtown Kitchen, Calgary
Image courtesy Midtown Kitchen, Calgary

Friends, followers, and new acquaintances: welcome to the Empire Strikes Bock. For those of you that know me,

I’ve taken a long hiatus from writing. For the past year or so I have worked as an intern to advance my career, which gave me little time to write about beer.. Prior to that, my main focus was the Brew Crew column for the Gateway student newspaper at the University of Alberta.

Now that I have settled down with a steady job and have to act like a responsible adult for 40 hours a week, I started to miss writing about my beer-ventures. My mission for this blog is to document my experiments and brag about the ones that worked. Here are some things you can expect:

  • Reviews of a variety of beers, whiskeys, gin, and other beverages that strike my fancy. But mostly beer
  • Weird food. Made with lagers, ales and spirits
  • Visits to various pubs and restaurants with a focus on craft beer
  • The occasional story from my travels. Provided there is a fermented beverage involved

Do not expect:

  • Me to talk about things that are “healthy”, “natural”, “organic” or anything else that implies wholesomeness. Go see a Registered Dietitian, if that’s your thing
  • Me to talk about wine. Go see a sommelier, if that’s your thing
  • Bombardment with pictures of my non-existent children. Google up a Mommy-blogger, if that’s your thing

Be warned – the purpose of this blog is for my own enjoyment more than anything else.

If you want to reminisce about my previous concoctions and musings, check out A Bittersweet Finish, where it all started. Special thanks to my partner-in-crime for the considerably more awesome title and logo.

Drinks, anyone?