AFTER yesterday’s satisfying Scottish strong ale, I’m now on to another Scottish ale from my local Tesco. This one is called Three Sisters and it’s the first beer that I’ve tried from the Atlas Brewery. Or is it?
You see, it turns out that Orkney Brewery and Atlas Brewery are both part of Sinclair Breweries Limited. How similar Three Sisters will be to Red MacGregor, Dark Island or Northern Light we will discover soon enough.
Going by the front label, Three Sisters certainly stands out. The typeface and pink-ness make sure that the Three Sisters aren’t shrinking violets. The 4.2% volume is clearly visible, as are some statements that remind me of Orkney’s labels. Specifically the “Brewed in small batches” reference. Like I’ve said before, that’s the sort of thing you like to read about your ale. Reference to huge vats and massive volume are to be avoided.
In the place of the ‘authenticity stamp’ favoured by Orkney and some other Scottish brewers, we have something more straight to the point. We learn that it will be “dark ruby” in colour. And that it will have “roast malt”, “fruity” and “hop” flavours.
The rear label is big and crams a lot of information on. Prominently placed is the symbol telling us that this 500 millilitre bottle contains 2.1 units. If that’s something you waste your time counting.
The right-hand side of the rear label mentions a couple of other Atlas beers. The left-hand side gives us the story. That the Three Sisters are in fact three peaks of Glen Coe. Somewhere that is presumably not far from their Kinlochleven address. The last thing to note on the rear label is that they use Styrian Golding hops. These are for fruitiness and a crisp aftertaste. Let’s see whether it is, as we open the bottle…
If, unlike me, you take a lot of time to smell your beer, you’ll probably enjoy the complex mixture of malt, hoppiness and fruits all muddled together. Fans of Scottish ales and those on the darker end of the ale spectrum will probably like this smell. For me though, it’s a little strong.
The taste and flavour are satisfyingly full and strong. The first tastes that hit me were the malt and the bitter. But it manages the avoid most of the bitter and sour aftertaste that accompanies a lot of the ales I have been trying recently. As I worked my was through, it was evident that this wasn’t a gassy drink. Although it did get a burp out of me.
I was rather overwhelmed with the first few glugs, but half-way through, I must have started to get used to it. This must be one of those ales that grows on you. For an ale, it is also surprisingly refreshing. Possibly down to it’s “Purest Highland Water”, or the low-ish alcohol volume, I was surprised at how easy it was to drink.
At the start of the bottle, I must admit, I had doubts. There was the hint on the label of Ruby Ale characteristics which put me off. The smell was a bit off-putting for me. And the bitterness of the first couple of gulps weren’t that promising. But after those hurdles, Three Sisters turned into a rewarding ale. Good flavour, high quality and drinkable all came through in the end. Quite an unexpected turnaround.
Recommended for fans of Scottish ales and for beer drinkers wanting an easy introduction to them. People less keen on strong-ish maltiness and bitterness might want to look elsewhere.
Have you tried Three Sisters? What did you think?
How about the other Atlas Brewery beers?
Any recommendations of your own?
Comments in the comments section as usual.