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Haddock in Beer Batter

Over the last thirty years there has been a revival of real ale in Scotland with the upsurge of many small breweries throughout the country. Changed days from when only skooshy keg was on offer! Amongst pubs selling real ale the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry is unique as it is the only Scottish pub to have appeared in the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) ‘Good Beer Guide’ every year since 1974. CAMRA was formed in 1971 and published their first beer guide in 1973 which only covered pubs in England and Wales. The Fisherman’s has recently changed hands but as I had a pint of Belhaven 80/- last month which went down a treat their continuing place in the noted beer guide should be OK. The Fisherman’s was one of a very limited number of Scottish pubs in the 1974 guide but the ‘Good Beer Guide 2008’ has some 300 howffs ranging from the Bluebell Inn ( a braw pub) in Annan to the Spiggie Hotel in Shetland.

Scottish real ale has come a long way in that as acknowledged by leading English beer writer Roger Protz in the November issue of ‘What’s Brewing’ ( CAMRA’s monthly newspaper) –

‘With a neat touch of irony, just as Scotland id demanding greater independence, its beers are gaining wider appreciation south of the border. The 2008 Good Beer Guide shows that Caledonian Deuchar’s IPA is truly a national brand whilst its Bitter & Twisted is also gaining greater prominence. That prominence will be enhanced by Bitter & Twisted’s victory in the bottled pale ale class in last month’s World Beer Awards organised by Beers of the World magazine.’

I can vouch for the excellence of Deuchar’s IPA – an excellent session beer.

If you had to look hard for a real ale pub 30 years ago then real ale festivals were as rare as hen’s teeth. In 2007, it is a very different picture with festivals such as Aberdeen and North-East Beer Festival aka The Great Grampian which celebrates its 21st anniversary this month. The festival runs from Thursday 22 November to Saturday 24 November 2007 in a new venue – Richard Donald Stand, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen (home of Aberdeen FC),Entry is via Gate 9 at the beach end and opening hours are – Thursday 4pm – midnight; Friday 3pm – midnight; and Saturday noon – midnight. Admission is £3 for CAMRA members/ £5 for non-members and the entry fee includes a commemorative glass, sponsored by William Bros Brewery, Alloa, and a festival programme. The good news is that the glass allows free entry to subsequent sessions – giving you plenty opportunities to sample the 75+ real ales on offer. Free soft drinks are available for designated drivers as part of CAMRA’s ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ campaign in conjunction with Grampian Police.

Aberdeen, in the days before oil, was Scotland’s premier fishing port so this week’s recipe combines fish with a touch of beer. Haddock in Beer Batter will give your stomach a real lining before you enjoy a pint or three of real ale.

Haddock in Beer Batter

Ingredients: 4 x 170g/ 6oz haddock fillets; oil for deep frying; seasoned flour

For the Beer batter; 110g/ 4oz plain flour; pinch of salt; 2 tbsp oil; 150m/ ¼ pint light beer; 1 large egg

Method: Preheat the oil for deep fat frying to 180C/ 350F. Prepare batter – sieve flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in oil and beer, and carefully mix in the flour. Whisk the egg stiff and fold into the batter. Coat the fish in seasoned flour and dip into the batter; drain and lower into the hot oil. Fry until the batter is crisp and golden. Remove from the oil and drain on absorbent paper. Enjoy!

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