Way back in the mists of time, when what is now the Scottish Parliament was an abandoned brewery and pubs still reeked of baccy, I was a fresh-faced art student determined to drink my way around Edinburgh in as cost effective a fashion as possible.
Back then, spending an evening in the pub was actually a reasonably cheap night out and drinking options were far more limited than today, so when you found a beer that worked for you, chances are you would be drinking a whole lot more of it before kicking out time.
Most pubs would offer Deuchars, Guinness, Belhaven Best, a range of interchangeable lagers and if you were lucky an eighty shilling.
I would tend to gravitate towards the 80/- (possibly because it was always among the cheapest offerings at the bar) and nine times out of ten this would mean a pint of Caley.
Sadly, Caledonian Eighty Shilling has since rebranded itself as “Edinburgh Castle” and is nowhere near as ubiquitous as it was twenty years ago. Malty, session strength beers, with only a delicate hop character are far from fashionable these days: To my shame, there have been times when a customer has asked for something of that ilk and I’ve had nothing to offer among the several hundred beers in the shop.
Thank heavens then for Dalkeith’s very own Crossborders brewery who are keeping the malty flame alive, with their own 80/-, The Heavy.
Over Christmas the Heavy was promoted to part of Crossborders core range, a move which should see it available at a lot more pubs and offies in 2019.
It’s a very attractive beer; A deep, burnished, amber red colour with a proper head of delicate off-white foam. Rather fruity on the nose, with aromas of dried peel, quince, earl grey and ginger nuts. The palate is medium weight, clean and superbly balanced; With sweet caramel notes, mild bitterness and a definite (but not at all unpleasant) metallic zing of acidity on the finish.
At a smidgen over 4% it is eminently boshable and a 33cl tin should set you back about £2.50.
I’m writing this on Burns night and I can attest that a mild, fruity beer like this is precisely what is needed to wash down a salty, fatty dish like haggis (handy that)