In an age when craft beer is (thankfully) getting more prevalent and more popular, and it sometimes feels like the latest hip thing, it’s worth remembering that there have been some established old hands doing it well for a very long time.
One place that has a bit of a cult reputation locally in the Highlands is The Anderson in Fortrose. Sitting on the Moray Firth coast of the Black Isle, just north of Inverness, Fortrose is a lovely old cathedral town on the Black Isle that is well worth an explore, not least of course for The Anderson.
Crammed with literally hundreds of different beers and whiskies – and purveying apparently excellent food – it’s a bar and restaurant that has long been on my radar, but is has always felt a bit far out of Inverness for an evening trip.
I had an excuse – and means – to get there over the Christmas holidays, however, and it was quite an experience.
In the main bar, however, there is a chance to check out a vast array of beers from all over the world, not to mention a whisky list so long it comes in a folder almost the size of a telephone directory.
The staff in The Anderson are knowledgeable, and there are always several beers on tap from across Scotland, the UK and beyond – plus a smorgasbord of bottled beers from across the planet.
I managed to stay true to my current research of Scotland’s island beers, imbibing an absolutely spectacular cask strength Orkney Porter from Swannay: a lovely, strong, sweet beer with a mix of Christmas pudding, chocolate and cherry tastes. I then headed across the Atlantic for a toasty 90 shilling style beer from Michigan.
My final beer, a Scottish style beer from Belgium, came via a recommendation from Jim, the owner of the bar, an American by origin. A veritable minefield of information about beers, he clearly knew his stuff and was able to suggest a beer to suit my tastes when I got talking to him at the bar.
“All our beers come with the Anderson guarantee,” he assured me in a patter doubtless repeated several times a week. “If you buy a beer and don’t like it, we’ll happily drink it for you.”
As it happened, I didn’t much like my recommendation. But I bravely persevered without resorting to taking up the well-intentioned guarantee.
I can imagine enjoying a repeat visit to The Anderson. It’s definitely a place to linger in and take your time over the drinks. They have rooms, too, so I can see a mini adventure coming into shape…