Atom Beers Camomile XP 4.2%
The guys and gal at Atom Beers like their science. You can see it on their bottle labels and hear it in their chat. For them, and many other brewers these days, the disciplines of chemistry, biology and engineering are as important to the craft of brewing as is a passion for making beautiful beers. Their brewery tours, for example, aren't an add-on to drive sales; they open themselves up to college and school visits, with a view to passing on their passion for science to the next generation. They've got plans for an educational brewery tour bus, too, something like a UPS van with a brewing kit in the back. It hits the road in 2015. Let's hope the Hull-based brewers bring it to Scotland.
Atom kicked off at the start if the year, with their range of interesting and quirky beers quickly making their way north. Although based in Hull, Scotland, they say, feels like a home market for them: co-founders Allan Rice and Sarah Thackray are veterans of Glasgow and Edinburgh universities. Allan also worked for Tempest Brewing Company in Kelso and Edinburgh's Stewart Brewing.
Atom's beers are familiar, yet different. They do a pale ale, an IPA and porter of course, but it's the oddball Camomile XP that offers a light alternative to the hop bombs and dark heavy hitters so common at Christmas. Its aroma is floral and friendly, with hints of vanilla and lager malts. Think gentle breeze across a field in late summer; as far as you be on a grim winter's day in Glasgow.
Any gentleness quickly fades when you take a drink though. It has a surprising and lip-smacking bitter hit which fades to a long vanilla and camomile aftertaste reminiscent of childhood sweeties. There are hints of grapefruit, caramel and honeyed oats, giving it a character that has a refreshing depth.
A version of this appeared on heraldscotland.com