I usually steer away from flavoured beers. The flavours are commonly overpowering and they are sickly sweet, however I’d already picked up a Crabbies (shut up it’s tasty) so decided another sweet beer wouldn’t hurt. Orkney’s Clootie Dumping ale caught my eye, mostly because of the tasty looking dessert on the bottle and a little because Orkney aren’t the type to do a tacky flavoured beer.
Orkney are one of my favourite Scottish breweries and brew a couple of old favourites that I used to serve regularly at the bar I worked in throughout university. They are quite a traditional brewery in terms of the ale they produce and don’t normally experiment with extreme flavours or hops. Orkney’s Clootie Dumpling isn’t an exception to this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely beer but it’s not something that is going to blow your mind.
Clootie Dumpling is a traditional Scottish dessert made with flour, breadcrumbs, dried fruit, suet, sugar and spices, the beer has been produced to match these flavours. Bearing these flavours in mind, when I opened the beer I was expected a rich, thick dark stout or porter. Instead the ale is toffee in colour and light in texture. I also expected a thick, heavy head but was instead met with a frothy light foam that quickly disintegrated.
On the nose the ale has a wonderful aroma of banana, cinnamon and ginger. It has a subtle smell of lager and doesn’t smell entirely as an ale usually does. It also smells a lot like a ginger beer and shares the same texture as a ginger beer or cider would have. It has the smell of a very light amber with some added yeastiness.
The aromas follow through in taste with some added spiciness and the flavour of fried fruit to match the characteristics of the traditional Clootie Dumpling. I lost the taste of banana that was so present in the smell, which is a little disappointing but there is enough going on with this beer to keep me interested. Something that I definitely didn’t expect from this beer (judging by the packaging and description) was that it would be a really easy drinking beer. It’s has a low abv. (4.2%) and is light enough in flavour to be a session ale but it is definitely more interesting that your standard IPA or light ale. The spiciness is kept in the aftertaste and in that way reminds me again of a ginger beer.
It’s not your typical seasonal ale and I definitely don’t think it represents Winter; maybe Autumn. It’s really nice to be surprised by the labeling which originally gave me the impression that it would be a sickly sweet dessert beer. It is subtle, sweet but not too sweet and was a very nice beer, if I do say so myself. I put of swig of it in my Shepherds pie and drunk the rest. If this sounds like the beer for you, get in there quick as it won’t be around after early February.