Visitors to a region will often ask, "what's good to eat round here?" They will less frequently ask what is good to drink. Perhaps they know or think they know, but they will be pleasantly surprised if they ask a local for advice about the regional tipples. A summary of the best local drinks around the UK is going to bring just as many surprises, as well as obvious answers.
Devon, indeed all the West Country, is the place to go for cider. Breweries abound, as does advice on how to make your own. This comes with the sound advice that one glass makes the world seem better and after two you will probably forget. The recipe calls for 12 lbs of apples (about 5.5 kilos), 1/2 lb of raisins (about 300 grams) and 1/2 lb of raw meat, a gallon of water (about 4 litres) and champagne or baker's yeast. The method is first and second fermentation and plenty of patience after it's bottled - about four months to let the brew mellow. After that the recipients can (mellow).
BrewDog in Fraserburgh
BrewDog is a Scottish craft beer company with attitude. It started in 2007 when two 24-year-olds, Martin Dickie and James Watt, formed Scotland's largest independent brewery. It aimed to be non-conformist and to be everything mainstream breweries they said were not -- and that meant being 100 per cent preservative, additive and chemical free. The boutique brewery produces in small crafted batches from Fraserburgh in north-eastern Scotland. The lads claim, irreverently that their brew 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin is "the strongest beer ever (yes ever)."
Welsh cocktail of damson and bramble crush
The Welsh are better known as beer drinkers than cocktail sippers but in the heart of the capital, Cardiff, lies the Ffresh bar where the cocktails use in-season produce like apples, berries and pears. The Damson & Bramble Crush uses apple brandy, Brecon vodka, lemon juice, muddled bramble (blackberry/raspberry) fruits and Celtic Country Damson (plum) liqueur. It looks great and tastes even better. Barman Steve Ball says he "crushes the blackberries for a fruity base, add Ffresh apple vodka (Brecon vodka infused in-house) to give it our own unique flavour. Finally I float the damson liqueur on top so it looks pretty and tastes good.”
Guinness, best in Ireland
Research released in 2011 shows that Guinness tastes better in Ireland, Northern included, than outside the Emerald Isle. The study the Institute of Food Technologies conducted consisted of taking non-expert tasters to pubs in Ireland and outside it. The tasters scored the brew higher in Ireland and writer Marcus Samuelsson attributes this to the ambiance of Irish pubs and to the fact that Guinness is flowing through the pipes in Irish pubs all day -- in other locales it could be sitting for a bit and losing temperature and flavour.
Glenmorangie in the Northern Highlands
Visitors to the Highlands can be in no doubt that single malt Scotch Whisky is king in this region. Glenmorangie, although a small company in Tain, overlooking the Dornoch Firth, is the biggest selling single malt in Scotland. The water comes from about a mile away, flowing through lime and sandstone which makes it hard. The stills are the tallest in Scotland at 5.13m (16ft 10 1/4 inches). All of Glenmorangie's output is now bottled as a single malt.
A pint of beer
The UK is best known for being a nation of beer drinkers and it is a well-earned reputation with an estimated 5.9 billion litres (or over 12 billion pints) of beer being downed by the public every year. Although an impressive amount of lager and ale is consumed by the British public, beer sales have seen a steady decline over the last 20 years. The decline has hit local pubs badly but the upside is that it has also sparked movements such as the Campaign for Real Ale, that hold regular beer drinking festivals.
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