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Classic Beer of the Month October 2018: Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted

Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, 3.8%

In August 2003, Harviestoun Brewery claimed the top award in CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain contest with its Bitter & Twisted.

Harviestoun Bitter & TwistedIt was the second Scottish beer to claim the supreme champion title, following on from Caledonian’s Deuchars IPA the year before, and it really put the brewery on the map.

Harviestoun was founded on a farm near Dollar in 1985 by former Ford motor company executive Ken Brooker.

Taking full advantage of Bitter & Twisted’s success and expanding the business into a new home in Alva in 2004, he eventually sold the business to Caledonian in 2006 but the brewery has since become independent once again.

It was Ken who created Bitter & Twisted, initially as a seasonal beer, in 1998. He was also responsible for its strange name, reportedly bestowed on the beer when he was in a bad mood after receiving a driving ban for speeding – although the Harviestoun website tells a different story today.

Hop Personality

Whatever the truth behind the name, the beer in the glass is a treat – a full-flavoured, blond session beer with loads of fruity hop character. It’s the sort of beer that, once and for all in the early 2000s, helped dispel the myth that all Scottish beers were dark and malty.

Pale and crystal malts are joined in the mash tun by wheat malt and also malted oats, to give a bit more body than its 3.8% ABV would normally suggest (the bottled version is a tad stronger, at 4.2%).

But it is through the hops that this beer gains its personality, with no fewer than seven now included – Hersbrucker, Celeia, Perle, Bobek, Challenger, Magnum and Aurora.

Together they conjure an aroma that is sappy, almost piney, before a taste that falls on the bitter side of bittersweet, the prominent hops adding a squeeze of lemon and lime and some floral notes to the palate.

The finish is dry, bitter and smoothly hoppy, and, like all the best beers, it leaves you wanting more.

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