As you know I am normally a pale ale drinker, but recently have been getting into stouts to a greater degree.  You will know I have recommended the hoppier ales from Brewdog many times in this column, and I had the luck to spot a new stout from them in a local supermarket last weekend.  “Alice Porter” is a 6.2% brew with flavours of chocolate and red fruit along with 5 malts making up a taste which is full but not heavy.  A couple of hop varieties add the interest in this aspect of the beer, to make a very good quality overall package.  However you will have to be quick or lucky to find this, as it is only being released in discrete limited batches according to the website, and from my experience I’ve only seen 1 or 2 bottles left on the shelf.  Having now tasted 4 beers so far from this excellent brewer, I can happily still recommend all of them.

However their latest super strength offering is a bit rich even for my enthusiastic support for the company. Ghost Deer, the world’s strongest fermented beer at 28% ABV costs £10 a pint at their Edinburgh bar.  The beer is aged in 6 different casks for 6 months and is served from a deers head in the bar.  However this strength and price is not unusual for the company, in fact it is positively low in both aspects compared to their record breaking brews including the 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin Stout and 41% Sink the Bismark (a quadruple hopped IPA) both of which top £35 for a 330ml bottle.  In related news their Equity for Punks funding round reached £1.5m towards the end of September and should be well on their way to the £2.2m target as I write this.

Going from one end of the spectrum to the other, Carlsberg has announced that they are reducing the ABV of Skol from 3% to 2.8% to benefit from the recent duty cut for beers at that level.  I’ve not drank Skol for over 18 years, and will be at least that again before I do.   Skol was a brand which was massive in the 70’s, but drifted from public view from the mid 80’s onwards, to the extent that you do not see it on pump any more (I certainly haven’t for at least a decade).  I was surprised it was still being made when I spotted it in a local off license.   Most brands from this era have been quietly retired over the last 20 years, but it goes to show some just live on.

In August I mentioned that Wells and Young had separated into distinct pub and brewing entities, and it appears the brewing side are not lacking in ambition, this week they purchased the 17% of McEwans they did not own from Heineken to take total control of the company.  The purchased company is responsible for brewing the McEwans and Youngers brands.   As I mentioned around the same time I considered McEwans Lager one of the worse beers I have ever tasted, and having not drank the other beers since I lived in Scotland 15 years ago, I wouldn’t wish to comment on their other offerings.  However this does make Wells and Young the 3rd biggest “premium ale” producer in the country.  The aim is to revitalise the brands playing on the Scottish heritage like they did with “The Bombardier” for Bombardier.  In comparison with another Scottish brewer at the start of this column, they are chalk and cheese, but both have a important place in the UK brewing industry.

In other trade news, a while ago I commented on the SABMiller offer to takeover Fosters.  I said that SABMiller would be more aggressive with their tenders and last month the Fosters board recommended an improved offer of £6.5 billion to their shareholders.  The upped offer from the original AU$4.90 to AU$5.10 finally convinced them to sell.  As I write the shareholders will be given their chance to vote on the the proposal.  This deal will see a huge collection of original and licensed beers fall under the same umbrella, with the notable exception being Fosters in Europe who’s license is held by Heineken.

On that 10 figure note, I wish you a happy weeks drinking.