The Highland Brewing Company, Swannay, Orkney Islands

The Highland Brewery is located near Evie on the North Coast of the Orkney Islands Mainland. This plant is a conversion of a former Creamery, behind the Brewery lies a former pig farm. Cows and Pigs have given way to Rob Hill’s very worthy art of brewing. The Brewer was once at the Orkney Island Brewery but the story goes he was let go when they became a much bigger concern a few years back. Rob does the Brewing at Highland, his son does the Admin. Hector has sampled and enjoyed quite a few of the range of Ales: Island Hopping, The Duke IPA, Trade Winds, Scapa Special, Orkney Blast and the most recent addition A(le)9. A visit to this Source was high on Hector’s list of must do during the Four Days in Orkney.

Arriving uninvited, Marg and Hector introduced themselves to Rob who was hard at work on a batch of Orkney IPA. He carried on working, the headtorch to enable him to see how full his container was whilst we chatted away.

The original plant was shown, the current equipment is much larger and he has more on the way as soon as he can arrange the transport. We discussed Hops, the favourite ingredient of many of The Friends of Hector. Rob is reluctant to go down the New Zealand route due to seasonality and avoids foreign Hops due to the inconsistency they bring to Brewing. The batch of Hops he has has been bought in bulk to ensure the consistency of his present Brews.

I told Rob of our need to travel to find the Ales we desire as most Glasgow Publicans still do not accept that there is a Market for Stronger, Pale, Hoppy Ales. I related the remark of the Hawkshead Brewer who told us that most of the last batch of NZPA went to Glasgow, and our monthly visit to The Staggs, Musselburgh, where they specifically cater for this Market, and em, us!

It was also amusing to hear Marg get so involved in the conversation. This Lady has been to numerous Breweries and has never touched a drop.

Hector left with a new Ale to try, Bottles of the Orkney IPA, but not from the same batch Rob had been finishing off as I arrived. The day was made.

Four Days and Nights on Orkney

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