Organic Beer Review # 3: Black Isle Hibernator Oatmeal Stout

Black Isle Organic Hibernator Oatmeal Stout

Black Isle Organic Hibernator Oatmeal Stout

This is the third instalment of the series Focus On: Organic Beer, and today we review Black Isle Brewery’s Hibernator Oatmeal Stout.  This tasty and sustainable brew is from an award winning Scottish brewery located in the Highlands.  They pride themselves on being ‘intensely independent’. Thank you for that.

The beer!

This tasty stout poured a dark brown colour with a beige head.  Its looked inviting to say the least with all its organic goodness.  With the smell of roasted malts, the taste was smooth, rich and a little smoky leaving a lingering taste that was slightly bitter. The strength, 7%, was well masked within the flavour and made for a very well crafted stout, preferable in my opinion to Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.  This was a highly drinkable beer, and the brewery suggested it as a compliment to dessert, ‘Match it with vanilla cheesecake and your life will be complete’. Well said.

Evin O’Riordain from the Kernel Brewery in London suggested pairing his stout with vanilla ice cream in my interview with him earlier this year.  I think these brewer’s are on to something – dessert & stout – a match made in culinary heaven.

Thankfully you can pick this beer up for the autumn from their on-line shop. I managed to pick one up at Utobeer in Borough Market a few months ago, and have high hopes to see it in London sometime now that we heading in the colder months. Its August now, but you can never be too prepared, and summer never really happened anyway. Perhaps they could recommend themselves on their organic merit to the Duke of Cambridge?  I also hope that all the new craft beer bars which seem to be springing up all over the city catch on to products like this. Craft Beer Co perhaps?

The brewery!

This Scottish brewer practices what it preaches, “we are not looking to change the world but we do want to make it a better place – our mantra is evolution not revolution’.  With a slogan like, ‘DRINK ORGANIC SAVE THE PLANET’ you can be assured of their passion for organic products and brewing.  They have won several awards from the SOIL Association for their beers including a Best Beer award for their Yellowhammer IPA. Brewing with organic ingredients is a must for all of their products, and they are proudly independent.  They even raise their own sheep and a Jersey cow fed on the spent grains from the brewing process, and also grow their own organic barley similar to Rogue (Chatoe Rogue). Recycling never tasted so good.

And if you are looking for a good brewing tour in the Scottish Highlands, they come highly recommended on Trip Advisor.  Their have lofty ambitions to become the UK’s premier organic brewery, and I wish them well.  I also wish they would set up a brewery here in London or perhaps start looking into a distillery?  Organic whisky sounds like it would make a lovely after dinner drink following cheesecake and pint of this stout.

And now, a few more notes on the organic market in the UK to take down while nursing a pint.  Cheers to something important! Sustainability!

1) Why do people buy organic? ‘Fewer chemicals’ is the number 1 reason. People evidently do care about the chemicals that they ingest, and this is a driving factor in choosing organic. The next time you bite into an apple or a carrot, just keep that in mind.

2)  There are over 500 farmers markets in the UK with a turnover of £2 billion. There is another 1000 farm shops selling products as well.  The sales of organic products in both of these markets fell to roughly £48m in 2011, but continue to be an important outlet as most large supermarkets have reduced their organic offerings.

3) McDonald’s (yup, McDonald’s) serves organic milk in all of its coffees and tea in the UK. (Go ahead, ask why not in the US?)  In 2011, they saw a 9% increase in volume for a total of 20 million litres of organic milk from UK dairy farmers. However, this was not enough to turn the tide of the overall organic milk market.  Sales slipped 9.2% in volume or 9.9% in value.  This is not helped by the price wars being fought between supermarket chains and the average price of non-organic milk being cut by 5.1% as a loss leader for chain shops.

(source SOIL Association Market Report 2012)


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