Lairding It Up In Traquair House - #EBBC13

Traquair House

I hadn't heard of Traquair House before, not until it was announced as an optional excursion as part of the Beer Bloggers Conference this year. I was probably one of the first to sign up for the bargain price of £10. However it later emerged that there was also a competition and two lucky bloggers would get to stay the night. I'm sure you can guess who one of those bloggers was. You might consider me lucky for winning the trip, to be honest, I was luckier still in that I hadn't booked my flights yet. If I had, I would have had to decline the prize. Luckier still was my fellow Laird for the night, beer writer Sam Parker. Not only did he become Laird Of The Beers for the night, he also won the £500 stipend from Let There Be Beer.

Brewery

Traquair House is actually Scotland's oldest continually inhabited house. It's interesting, it started off as a hunting lodge about 900 years ago. If you look at the first picture of the house, see the tower on the left hand side? That was the hunting tower, it's the original part of the house. There's a better picture down below. Subsequent owners have added on to it. The lovely Catherine Maxwell Stuart, current Laird of Traquair was there to greet us and bring us on a tour of the grounds. We also discovered how you pronounce Traquair. I think we all thought it was track-air but it turns out to be track-ware.
About 50 years ago, while cleaning out some old storage rooms under the chapel, they discovered a 300 year old brewery. Catherine's father, Peter Maxwell Stuart cleared it out and decided to rekindle the fires and start brewing again and Traquair ale was reborn.


Laid Sam reading about the original brewing process
It's really interesting looking at this from a brewers perspective. Much of it bears no relation to a modern brewkit. The cooling took them hours back then. We do in about 20 minutes these days using a very simple method of heat transference to cold water. Back then, not only did Catherine spend hours with a cooling paddle, it also had to be transferred to the two cooling platforms above. If you see the copper device below, that was an heat transfer cooler that they bought decades ago. It still works, however a student who was helping out forgot to empty it completely and it froze. There is a noticeable bulge at the bottom, not visible in my picture.




There's a fascinating video showing Peter and a 10 year old Catherine brewing in 1975. I wouldn't be born until 1979. They brewed on the same old brewery pictured above. According to Catherine, it's still used from time to time to brew special batches.


This is what is unique or at least rare about Traquair beers. They are fermented in centuries old wooden vessels. I think it imparts a slightly woody feel to all of their beers. Not as if it was aged in oak, just the barest hint of oak though. I believe one had to be replaced so is only 50 years old but some are 200 years old. While most of the brewing is done on a more modern kit, which we didn't get to see, they still ferment in the original oak vessels.

Quite petty in my opinion 

After the brewery visit, we headed back to the main courtyard and in to the shop which doubles as a sort of museum. It was fascinating to see some of the old tools and other memorabilia. They even had the paddle that young Catherine used to use to cool the wort.

Brewery Shop

Old bottling machine
I thought this was interesting, they have the old bottling machine on display. It looks like something from the industrial revolution. And why not? Since beer production was one of the driving forces behind the industrial revolution?

Traquair Ales

Tasting the three ales

Traquair Jacobite ale

Old Brewery Tools
I believe that pictured above, is one of the original oak barrels that started to fail and they had to replace. I'm not sure what the purpose of a lot of those tools are, some might be nothing to do with the brewery.

The original hunting tower

The chapel

Inside the house
While you can walk around the house, most of the rooms are roped off to prevent people destroying the old furniture etc.

Original Entrance - Bear Gates
Here's something interesting. Bonnie Prince Charlie visited the house once. When he left through the now infamous (apparently) Bear Gates, the Earl of Traquair at the time vowed they would never be opened again until a Stuart king was crowned in London yet again. Catherine still has her fingers crossed on that one. The gates remain closed to this day. That grass avenue is the original driveway with the bear gates at the top. It was grassed over and another temporary entrance was made. It's still considered the temporary entrance to this day.

The Maze
Yes, I did go in to the maze. I had fantasies of re-enacting The Shining while in there. Sam, his lovely wife and myself went in after everyone else had gone back to Edinburgh. We found our way after a number of wrong turns and it was a good way to kill a half hour. We then wandered the grounds and encountered a little petting zoo area. One goat in particular loves company and sounds like he is crying when you walk away.


Another interesting thing. The Stuarts were Catholics and that was not only frowned upon, it was downright illegal in Britain at the time. The Priest had his own room in one of the towers. His vestments were made to look like common bed covers. In case of a raid by the whatever the anti-catholic police were called back then, there was an escape route built in to a bookcase. He just opened the back door and crawled through. Yes, of course I went down it. However I'm not as small or lithe as I used to be and immediately hit my head and had to take easy going down the narrow staircase. It's not built for people my size.

The Blue Room
This was my room for the night. Not a bad way to Laird it up is it? It might look lovely but these are all antiques and people didn't know how to be comfortable back then. The bed is very firm, and I like a firm bed! Still, I slept just fine.

The Bear Gates
We took a walk up to the gates and I was struck by something. They weren't chained and I'm not sure they were even locked. There was nothing preventing me from opening them. That said, if I was to do that, I might be considered an enemy of Scotland and since I'm Irish and we all love the our Gaelic friends, I decided to leave them well alone and consigned myself to discussing with my companions that the bears resemble a creature that looks nothing like a bear. It's like the sculptor was told to sculpt a bear but because they were possibly extinct by this time, and photography hadn't been invented yet, he sort of guessed what they might look like. Imagine a warthog with large tusks that could stand on his hind legs and you have a rough idea of what they are like. Or just zoom in to the picture above. That's much easier.

1745 restaurant
Catherine treated us to a lunch at the restaurant where I had a very tasty pork sandwich, or was it bear? It's a lovely little restaurant / tea room. The beer garden out back is impressive. Apart from the patio area where the seating is, the beer garden is an actual garden with fountain, trees and some benches.

Traquair Arms Hotel
For dinner, we went to the Traquair Arms Hotel in nearby Innerleithen. We could have walked for 20 minutes but it was decided that we should drive instead, or more to the point, Sam's wife would drive. I felt severely under dressed on the way out but that was fine because when we walked in to the hotel, it was Sam and wife that stood out as over dressed.

The Traquair Arms had what I believe was called Traquair Stuart Ale? Anyway it wasn't one of the three main beers they do and it's possible that they brew it especially for the hotel or else exclusively on cask rather than bottle. It was rather pleasant as was the food. Nothing to get excited about. I will say that when I ordered a second pint of it, the beer that came was colder and didn't taste like the same beer. In fact I identified it as Timothy Taylor Landlord, one of the other beers they have on cask. I didn't complain about the wrong beer or the fact it was too cold. I was too hot to ask for a warm pint. Besides, it was Landlord!

One thing I should say about Innerleithen. If you find yourself staying at Traquair house or nearby and decide to go out, skip everything and head straight to the Traquair Arms. Don't even attempt to go in to one of the other bars. They all looked pretty much the same but we went in to a pub that shall remain nameless. The entire bar was empty except one table that was occupied with deserted drinks and handbags, even phones. Clearly they had either run for their lives or been whisked away to some dungeon somewhere. We ordered drinks (half pints), which were almost entirely made up of extra cold this or the other. I had a Tetley's smoothflow just for the novelty. We headed out to the beer garden which is where the rest of the patrons seemed to be, though they might not have been the owners of the handbags in the front. I banged my shoulder off a latch that was hanging out of the door and a girl at the table told me I should sue! Off to a great start with a certain social element then. We sat down and immediately wanted to leave. The beer garden has a great view of what can only be described as a yard of rubbish and the occupants were loud and obnoxious. Even our drinks were not reason to stay. Mine was off, completely sour. It was probably a half pint of what was in the lines since for the last week, the last time anyone ordered it!
Half of our halves gone, we headed back to Traquair house where we had a case of Bear Ale to get through. I was glad of our designated driver as it was starting to get dark and I didn't fancy seeing what creatures come out in the dark in Innerleithen.

Lower Drawing Room - From the Traquair house website
We retired to our private dining room to sit, enjoy the quit, have a chat and drink our Bear Ales. It was a lovely evening of pretty much nothing to do but enjoy being Lairds of the manor.
The next morning we sat in the Still Room and had a fantastic breakfast, a breakfast fit for a Laird you might say. When we were asked about our evening, we mentioned going in to said pub and were met by a sort of facepalm and a groan. I believe the response was "you got out of there alive I see" or something that way implied. I got confirmation that the rest of the pubs in town are not worth visiting.
After breakfast we had a quick tour of the house before it opened to the public.

I would like to thank the lovely Catherine Maxwell Stuart, Laird of Traquair for her hospitality. Also the helpful staff who gave us the history of what we were seeing and saw to our needs.
I should also say, if you consider staying at Traquair that while on the face of it, the price might seem expensive at about €210 per night but bear this in mind. There are only 3 rooms available so at most you will have three couples around. You have a wonderful breakfast in the Still room and exclusive use of some of the rooms. You can even tour the house when it's closed to the public and you have the whole grounds to yourself really.
It's actually a bargain for a romantic getaway in my opinion. Of course, I stayed for free so what do I know?

I would also like to thank Sam and his better half for driving me back to Edinburgh, that was very decent of them as it was out of their way in getting home.

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Pub,1,mchughs,1,meantime,2,Meantime Raspberry Grand Cru,1,meh,1,Mein Grunes,1,mellow mushroom,1,merchandise,1,merry Chirstmas,1,Messrs Maguire,3,metalman,2,michigan,1,micro brewery,2,microbrewery,1,midnight sun,2,mikkeller,3,mild,3,mild smoker,2,mild winter,1,milk stout,2,mill valley beerworks,1,minikeg,2,minimum pricing,1,mission,1,modus hoperandi,1,molly's chocolate stout,2,molsoncoors,1,mongozo,1,Monsieur Rock,1,moor,1,mór,1,mountain sun,1,moylans,1,Mt Snowdon,1,mullingar,2,multigrain,1,muntons,1,murray's,3,musings,1,myrcenary,1,n17,1,naked pig,1,Nanny State,1,natural selection,1,Navigator,1,nectar,1,Nefiltruotas Raw,1,Nen Bangelijke,1,Netherlands,1,never mind the anabolics,2,new belgium,2,new holland,1,new zealand,1,Newmans,1,newton,1,night beacon,1,night of many beers,1,Noblesse,1,Nøgne Ø,1,Nøgne Ø nogne o,1,Northmaen,2,nutfest,1,O' Hara's,1,O' Neil's,1,o'byrnes,1,O'Fallon,1,O'Hara's IPA,1,O'Hara's Irish Pale Ale,1,O'Haras,6,oak aged,1,oberdorfer. hopf,1,oberon,2,obyrnes,1,odd side ales,1,odell,3,Odells,3,Oerbier Special Reserva,1,of foam and fury,1,Oktoberfest,1,ola dubh,1,old foghorn,1,old nucklehead,1,Old Peculier,1,old scratch,1,old speckled hen,2,old tom strong ale,1,Old Winter Ale,1,olde peninsula,1,Oppigards,1,Optimo Bruno,1,opus II,2,ór,2,origin,1,Orney Amber,1,orval,1,oscar blues,1,oskar blues,1,otley,1,oxymoron,1,Oyster stout,2,p2,2,pacific blond,1,paddy's brewery,1,paddyfest,1,paella,1,Page 24,1,Pagoa,1,Palo Santo Marron,1,pancake Tuesday,1,Pannepot reserva,1,paradox,1,paris,3,past master,1,past masters,1,pbr,1,peak xv,1,pensacola,1,perception,1,Perle La Mondiale 2011,1,petaluma,1,Philippines,1,phoenix park,1,phuca,1,pick axe,1,piece,1,pier cove porter,1,pilsner,1,pilsner urquell,6,pink killer,1,pints pub,1,pipers gold,1,pisa,1,pliny the elder,2,poachers choice,1,pochs,1,Poechenellekelder,1,politics,3,pond hopper,1,port brewing,1,Port McQuarie,1,porter,1,porterhouse,10,portrush,1,Pot Belly,1,prague,1,preview,1,primator dark,1,prize old ale,1,Proclamation Porter,1,proper job,1,pure gold,1,pure ubu,1,purgatory,1,purity,1,purity brewing company,1,quaff,1,queboid,1,racer 5,1,rader,1,radical brew,1,radikale,1,Raftman,1,Raison D'être,1,rakau,1,random everything ipa,1,random summer sunshine,1,random waffle,1,rant,3,rascal's,1,ratebeer,1,Rauchbier,1,raven,1,Raven Vintage Stout,1,razzamataz,1,rch brewery,1,re-brew,1,rebrew,1,recession dinner,1,recipe,1,recycle,1,red ale,1,red eye flight,1,red frog ale,1,red horse,1,red shield,1,redoak,1,revelation cat,1,revolution,1,Reykjavik,1,rhetoric,1,ridgeway,1,Rince Cochon,1,rip tide,1,riptide,1,rising sons,1,road dog,1,roadtrip,1,rochefort,1,Rochefort 10,2,Rodenbach,1,rogue beer,1,róisin,1,rome,1,rooie dop,1,rook and vuur,1,root canal,1,Rosé de Gambrinus,1,rosey nosey,1,round-up,2,roundup,2,ruddles,1,rugby,4,Russian imperial,1,russian river,1,rye river,2,saint bidgets porter,1,saint paul,1,Saint Petersburg,1,saison,2,saison 1900,1,Salthill,1,sam adams,1,Samichlaus,1,samual adams,2,samuel adams,1,samurai rice ale,1,san diego,1,san francisco,2,san sebastian,1,sanda black,1,Santa’s Little Helper,1,saranac,2,sassy red,1,satanic mills,1,saugatuck,2,sawtooth ale,1,scaldy porter,1,Schlapppeseppel,1,Schneider Weisse,3,Schneider Weisse Tap 4,1,scotland,1,second chance,1,Seeing red,4,Seeing red v2,2,seo,1,septemberfest,1,shady pale,1,shandon century stout,2,sharp's,3,sharps,1,shave or dye,1,sheepshagger,1,shephard neame,2,shepherd neame,2,sheridans,1,shipyard,1,shpherd neame,1,Sierra Nevada,9,Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale,2,Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale,2,signal,1,Sigtina,1,singapore ipa. esb amber,1,Single Brew Reserve,1,sink the bismark,1,sixex,1,ska brewing,1,skyrim,1,slaters,1,sloop brewing,1,smithwicks,3,smoke jumper,1,smoked baltic porter,1,smoked porter,1,smooth ryed,1,smuggler,1,snake dog,1,sneck lifter,1,snow eater,1,Sorachi ace,1,Sorachi Ale,1,Sotholmon,1,sour beer,1,South Pacific Pale Ale,1,southern pecan,1,southern tier,2,Southwold Dark Ale,1,spain,2,spaten,1,speakeasy brewery,1,speakeasy payback porter,1,Special London ale,1,spelt saison,1,spindrift,1,St Bernardus,1,st bernardus 12,1,st eriks,1,St Idesbald,1,St Lupulin,1,st martin,1,St Peter's Cream Stout,1,st stefanus,1,stag saor,1,starr hill,1,stateline,1,Steen Brugge,1,Steep Trail,1,stella artois,1,steve wellington,1,stevens point,2,stewart brewing,1,stinger,1,Stone and wood,1,stone barrel,1,stone brewing company,2,stone ruination ipa,1,stonewell,1,stoneybatter,1,story,1,stout,4,stout face off,1,straffe hendrick,1,Streaky,1,stumptown tart,1,sublimely self righteous ale,1,Sullivan's,1,summer,1,Summer IPA,1,summer lightning,1,summerwine,1,sunburnt Irish red,1,suntory,1,supervalu,1,sur amarillo,1,surrender to the void,1,survey,1,sushi,2,sweden,1,Swedish beer,1,sweetwater,1,sweetwater brewery,1,sydney,6,Syvturys,1,t-shirts,1,T' Pakhuis,1,tactical nuclear penguin,1,tally-ho,1,tangle foot,1,Tankovna,1,Tap X,1,tapster,1,taste test,2,tasting,1,tasting session,1,tawny 05,1,tayberry,1,tea,1,teeling,1,tempest,1,temple bar chocolate festival,1,terrible beer,3,tesco,1,thanks to the big boys,2,the banshee,1,the beast,1,the beer moment,1,The Big Lunch Beer Challenge,1,the black sheep,1,The Brewrey Tap,1,the end of history,1,the fearless,1,the force,1,The Golden Pints Beer Awards 2010,1,The Great divide,3,the haka,1,The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,1,The Late Night Levy,1,The little Brewing Company,1,the lord nelson,1,The Matt Brewing Company,1,the old stand,1,the oslo,4,the perfect publican,1,the rev james,1,The Rogue Hop,1,the salthouse,1,the session,39,the white hag,1,theakston,1,Thieving Bastards,1,thirsty bear,1,Thornbridge,6,three notched,1,thwaites,3,Thwaites double century,1,Tig Bhric,1,Tig Neachtain,1,timothy taylor,1,tis the saison,1,titan ipa,1,To Øl,3,tojo,1,tokyo*,1,tommyknocker,2,Tongerlo,1,toronado,1,torpedo,1,tralee,1,trappist beer,2,Traquair ale,1,Traquair House,1,trashy blonde,1,travel,30,Tripple FFF,1,Trois Pistoles,1,Trouble Brewing,3,truck stop honey,1,tsar,1,Turbo Yeast Utter Abhorrence from Beyond the Ninth Level of Hades III,1,twiglets,1,twitter,2,two hearted ale,1,Unertl,1,Unibroue,1,untappd,1,urbock,1,valentins,1,vandeoirsprong,1,Vapeur Cochonne,1,ventnor,1,versa,1,vertical tasting,1,very nutty black,1,vg noster,1,victory,1,Victory Golden Monkey,1,victory hop devil,1,victory hop wallop,1,victory storm king,1,video post,3,viginia,1,vintage ale,1,Vitesse Noir,1,vrienden,1,wainwright,1,warrior ipa,1,water shortage,1,website,1,Weihenstephan,1,Weihenstephaner,1,Weißenoher,1,Weisser Bock,1,wells and youngs,1,Wells Banana bread beer,1,West Cork,1,western herd,1,westvleteren 12,2,wetherspoons,1,What Ales Ye?,1,what beer means to me,1,what's the matter lagerboy?,1,wheat beer,4,wheat wacker,1,wheat wine,1,Wheaty Goodness,2,whiplash,1,white gypsy,1,white gypsy vintage,1,White Island Wheaten Ale,1,White rabbit,1,white shield,1,whitewater,1,whychwood,1,wicked elf,1,wicklow brewery,1,wicklow wolf,2,widmer,1,wildcat,1,williams brothers brewery,8,windsor and eton,1,wine,1,winter ale,1,Winter Ales and Cask festival,3,winter lager,1,winter solstice,1,winter spirit,1,Wit,1,witty fella,2,wj kavanagh.,1,wobbly boot,1,woolpack,4,woolpacker,1,wordpress,1,world beer awards,1,world market,1,worlds best beers,1,wort,1,worthingtons,2,wrasslers,1,wynkoop,1,xx bitter,1,xx strong ale,1,yamamori,1,yardsman,2,yeti,1,york,1,young's,2,your local,1,yule ól,1,zero degrees,1,zeus,1,Zlatý Bažant,1,Zunbeltz,1,
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The Tale Of The Ale: Lairding It Up In Traquair House - #EBBC13
Lairding It Up In Traquair House - #EBBC13
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The Tale Of The Ale
http://www.taleofale.com/2013/07/lairding-it-up-in-traquair-house-ebbc13.html
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