The Orkney Porter story - part 1

The Orkney Porter story - part 1

We don't know why exactly Rob first brewed Orkney Porter all those years ago but we're glad he did.

It's no easy task brewing this beer - to get enough sugars for the 9.0% ABV we have to max out our mash tun and sacrifice our yeast (we usually recover the yeast but Orkney Porter is so strong the yeast is not good for another brew).

Our 5 barrel mash tun maxed out in 2010

It also spends a long time in its fermenting vessel, again because of its strength, so we usually brew the beer at a quiet time of year. When we are quiet (2020 aside!) it's usually cold.

In the old brewery especially, cold really was cold. Some days brewing and indeed all running water - was stopped due to frozen pipes. The protracted building project we've been working on for longer than it takes to make many many batches of Orkney Porter will afford us the luxury of a buried and therefore insulated mains water pipe!

Winter 2010 was cold. This pic taken on an Orkney Porter gravity check

Like many of Swannay's beers Orkney Porter probably tastes even more special on draught. Back in the day, when we did brisk trade with pubs in and around Newcastle (direct delivery runs from Orkney to Newcastle are probably worth a blog themselves) many casks of Orkney Porter were sent from the north of Scotland to the north of England. Rumour has it our then top north east customers - Bacchus, Newcastle Arms & The Boathouse - sold Orkney Porter by the pint. Is that a Shane MacGowan song?

The more accessible format is of course bottles and we're lucky to have done more batches than usual in the last year or so due to volumous orders from Canada. This is great for us as the bulk of the batch is pre-sold which leaves us with a manageable amount to sell via usual channels.

2014 batch on the big kit throwing its yeast over

We're incredibly proud of our large award cabinet at the brewery (in fact we have so many we really do need a special area to hang them all in the new brewery) and while Orkney Porter has a few accolades to its name*, much less than many other beers, we still feel that it is one of our most revered recipes. Like a lot of the most important things it's hard to quantify how we measure that but we just have to trust what we think.

Another thing that we don’t know why - whether it was on purpose or by oversight - we have some cases of Orkney Porter from over the years. For this winter, 2020, we are offering three batches of Orkney Porter plus the last of the barrel aged version in a set.

Vintage 2010

Vintage 2013

Current 2020

Barrel aged (Arran Edition) 10.5% ABV

We’re not charging a premium for the older beers and we’re interested in how you think they’ve aged. Please let us know. Click here to buy now.

The labels changed, the base beer stayed mostly the same

*We’re particularly proud of the award that Orkney Porter won in Japan in 2012. This one is definitely worth another blog as well (featuring Kirkwall, Kyoto, Tokyo, Leonardo DiCaprio but not Scarlett Johansson).

Click here to order the Orkney Porter aged set now.