Pleased to finally get my hands on a bottle of Allendale’s Black Grouse beer which I’ve been seeing around for some time. I was rather turned off the idea of black grouse branded alcohol after an encounter with Edrington Group in 2012 which revealed that the people behind the Famous Grouse and the more recent Black Grouse purport to be “neutral” on the subject of shooting, and affirm their neutrality by working in partnership with the RSPB, which is increasingly gathering momentum as an anti-shooting organisation. I fulminated at some length on the subject, particularly since bottles of Grouse are doubtless on order to many shooting parties as they gear up for the Twelfth.
But putting that silliness to one side, Allendale’s Black Grouse is a fine pint, and has the cheerful appearance of a blackcock once poured into a pint glass; a black body with a white frill of fanned tail for a head. Perhaps a little darker than the beer I’d usually choose, it slipped down a treat regardless.
I was particularly impressed to read on the label that the beer “pays homage to the sport that preserves the habitat of the black grouse”; a sport that is currently under attack from conservationists who believe that all birds (black grouse included) could do better without gamekeepers or traditional upland management. Having spent three years at school in Hexham, I have fond memories of the hills around Allendale and Whitfield, and in a black grouse context, I shudder to compare them with areas of Northumberland which lie North of Hadrian’s Wall towards Otterburn and Kielder, where the hills have become an empty place in the absence of proper moorland management.
If you come across a pint of Black Grouse this August, don’t miss it.