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By Elizabeth AtiaAugust 18th 2014
Elizabeth Atia

Brewster: The mediaeval term for a female brewer.

The Lerwick Brewing Company launched its first beer in June 2013 and now, just over a year later, they've added a third brew, Tushkar - an oatmeal stout, to complement it's very popular range. Their products include the award winning 60° North, a golden Pilsner style lager and Skippers Ticket, a traditional pale ale with a delicate Shetland twist.

Officially launched today, the 18th of August, Tushkar is the brain child of brewsters Jessie Gear and Rhanna Turberville, who, after much training, research and experimentation decided to throw some traditional Scottish oats into their mix.

Brewery Manager Rhanna Turberville says: “We’ve had a lot of success with 60°North and Skipper’s Ticket, our craft lager and pale ale, and we have always been interested in complementing these two brews with something richer. Tushkar is the first darker beer we have worked with and were immediately impressed with the complexity of the flavours and its rich, dark colour. We chose to use oats in our stout, not only for the smooth, rounded mouth feel they give the beer, but also to celebrate our link to our Scottish roots.”

Tushkar is The Lerwick Brewery's own unique recipe, the first of many, they hope, and it has gone down really well on the mainland with tasters.

It's been listed already as one of the top 12 new beers to try from Scottish breweries this summer by Colin Campbell at Herald Scotland.

Last week Elizabeth from A Taste of Shetland paid Jessie and Rhanna at The Lerwick Brewing Company a visit, bombarding them with 101 questions while on tour of the premises and sampling their latest brew (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!).

How much beer can you brew at once?

"We can brew up to 2000 litres (6000 bottles) at once, and we can bottle up to 500 an hour."

What's unique about your brewing process?

"The number of conditioning vessels", Jessie says. "We have seven. That, our long conditioning process and the fact we don't use any nonsense in our beers"

"Shetland's climate and soft water is ideally suited to brewing", Jessie explains. The soft water means there are fewer dissolved minerals to remove. Stout brewing especially benefits from the soft water. "We don't need to use the clarifying agent isinglass, which means our brews are suitable for vegans."

Have you ever used any of your beers in a recipe?

"Yes! Jessie's made a Skippers Ticket risotto which was rather... interesting!"

There aren't many women in the brewing industry, why do you do this?

"Because it's a hoot!," laughs Jessie. "We take a lot of fun out of making our own beer. It's challenging, but challenging in a good way."

"There has been a rise recently in female brewers, brewsters, we're called, and last year saw the first female win the Brewer of the Year Award from the British Guild of Beer Writers."

Where do you see yourselves going after this?

"We'd love to develop the brewery building as a whole. We'd also love to win some awards and get a bit of recognition that we're doing a good job."

"We'd love some feedback, for people to try out products and tell us what they think!"

Their products can be purchased at various outlets throughout Shetland, including some village shops and Mareel, and from distributors on the UK mainland from Thurso down to Fort William. Alternatively visit their online shop.

Follow them on Twitter @lerwickbrewery and Facebook and let them know what you think of their brews!

Tasting notes:

Tushkar is a careful blend of the five classic Oatmeal Stout flavour notes: a smooth and slightly sweet mouthfeel from the finest rolled oats, chocolate and coffee top notes from the chocolate malt, a light bitterness from the Mittlefruh hops and a balancing roundness from the respectable 5.5% ABV alcohol content. The depth and complexity of flavour are delivered without heaviness, so that they complement a relatively low carbonation level, with just sufficient effervescence to dance across the taste buds. Whilst it is a perfect accompaniment to all the standard Stout pairings, like red meat or strong cheese, Tushkar's restrained level of bitterness and slight sweetness mean it can also compliment sweeter dishes like desserts and fruits.

The name Tushkar comes from the spade-like implement which Shetlanders historically used to cut peats from the barren hillsides. With very few trees on Shetland they relied on peat as their main source of fuel for over a thousand years, so the tushkar was a vital part of the crofter's toolkit.