I McEwan’s Tall Ships’ Ale The last three months have seen the Central Belt work itself into something of a frenzy in preparation for the Tall Ships' race which will be docking in Leith l5—l8 July.

To mark the event McEwan's have produced a special commemorative beer which is on sale in pubs in both bottled and cask form. A dark ale with an ABV of 5.5 per cent, it should prove itself to be a popular and refreshing brew during what is turning out to be a relatively pleasant summer.

Not content with producing a specific ale for the event, McEwan’s are also converting the Corn Exchange warehouse on the comer of Constitution Street and Baltic Street into the McEwan's Centre for the duration of the Tall Ships' visit.

Way back in the mists of time, in the l860s. when a certain William McEwan was just starting out in the brewing trade. the Corn Exchange was used as a market place to buy and sell grain which was delivered to Leith in tall ships. One-hundred-and-thirty years later this massive warehouse is being revamped into a showcase for McEwan’s. Live entertainment in the form of jazz and blues bands along with comedians and the Radio Forth Roadshow will be keeping the crowds amused from ll.30am to 7.30pm. Beer buffs will also have the chance to sample McEwan's wares from a range


of nine beers including the prosaically- named McEwan‘s Very Strong Ale which is usually brewed for the export markets. Each beer is served with tasting notes and experts from Heriot Watt’s brewing degree course will be on hand to dish out advice and no doubt there'll be a fair amount of anecdote swapping.

Entry to the Corn Exchange is free but for a cover price of£3 visitors can sample three of the brews.

I Samuel Adams American beers get a bad press over here and deservedly so. Pale. bland and weak. they are the triumph of marketing style over content. containing less taste than tap water and selling at a premium price. Fortunately they are not all like that.

The Boston Beer Company produce Samuel Adams beer which is now available at branches of Oddbins and Savacentre stores at around £l.l9 a 330C] bottle. An amber coloured lager. Samuel Adams is a complex. full- bodied beer with a crisp tangy taste courtesy of the fresh hops which are added as the beer ages. The beer is made using only barley, hops, yeast and water and unlike many beers from other countries. Samuel Adams is actually imported rather than brewed under license in the UK.

For a serving suggestion you could put a six pack of it your fridge. make a bucket of popcorn and slack out in front ofthe box and watch the Channel Four special on Americans and virginity which is broadcast on 4 July.

I Smirnoff Black Vladimir Smirnoff's commercial descendants have added a new product to their stable. Joining the red and blue label brands is Smimoff Black a premium vodka which is made in Moscow and imported over here in rather elegant bottles.

The spirit is distilled from native Russian grain and is produced in small batches in copper pot-stills. After distillation the vodka is filtered through Russian silver birch charcoal which gives it a uniquely mellow flavour.

Just as mixing malt whisky with anything other than spring water is akin to sacrilege. adding cola. lemonade, orangejuice or anything else to good vodka is- a complete waste of a fine spirit. The best way to enjoy Smimoff Black is to stash it in your freezer for a good few hours until the liquid becomes thick and almost treacly. Serve it neat with some salty nibbles —— something along the lines of pickled herrings. peanuts or. if you’ve just won the lottery. some caviar on Melba toast. Whether you sip it slowly or knock it back with the Russian equivalent of ‘Down the hatch‘ is entirely up to you.

Until now. SmimoffBlack has only been available in bars in London and Glasgow. But it is now available in most of the upmarket bars and hotels in Edinburgh and it can be bought by the bottle from Justerini and Brooks in George Street, Edinburgh and savoured at home.

(Jonathan Trew)

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