Moulin is not, perhaps, a place name that springs immediately to mind in the context of beer. In fact, this small village in the shadow of Mount Ben Vrackie, near Pitlochry in Perthshire, is home to one of Scotland’s first microbreweries. The Moulin Brewery’s main market for its four beers is the village pub, the Moulin Inn, although they are to be found in other nearby hostelries too and, in bottled form, also further afield. So while Moulin itself may be off the beaten track for some, it would not surprise me if Moulin beers popped up in well stocked off licences in Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The present-day Moulin Inn opened its doors in 1995, but it boasts a history as a coaching inn on the Pitlochry to Kirkmichael section of the Great North Road going back to 1695. It is very much an old fashioned local, so not much space for big parties. Although the interior is perhaps a little threadbare, and in places veering towards the corny (for example with a tea-stained notice proclaiming ‘Pub of the Year 1665’) it is a snug and comfortable and has a pleasant atmosphere. As one would expect in the central Highlands, there is a wide range of malt whisky. We didn’t eat there, but the food looked and smelled excellent, and was certainly served in portions appropriate for anyone staying there having just completed the last section of the Rob Roy Way from Drumlyn.
The beer, of which I sampled two:
Old Remedial (5.2%), apparently named so by a rowing team that stayed in the Inn, is definitely a winter warmer for the long, dark Highland evenings. The darkest and strongest of the Moulin beers, it is rich, almost stout-like but without the ashy bitterness (each to their own, I am not much one for stouts), with a smooth flavour, and an oaky finish when being swallowed. The brewery draws its water from the springs above the village, and a peaty, almost honey-like aftertaste with, I was sure, an undertone of heather, is very much in evidence, and lingers for a good while. The beer did not hold its head brilliantly.
Braveheart (4.0%), is a much lighter ale. Daft movies aside, Braveheart barley coloured and lightly cloudy, yet unmistakably retaining the memory of the peats and minerals of the brewery’s springs. This is more a beer for refreshment after a good stomp over the fells on a summer’s day. It comes across as somewhat bland in the first encounter, but a hoppy tang develops as it goes down, and is particular evident in the aftertaste. The flavour is far less pronounced than that of the Old Remedial, and were I sampling again I would drink them the other way around – I suspect the Old Remedial overwhelmed some of the more subtle flavours.