Blackfriar Scotish Ale

Inveralmond Brewery was founded in 1997, but its young brewers are already rated among the best in Scotland. Blackfriar is the first in a series of beers honoring the role of the familiar orders of Dominican monks in the history of Perth. It is, naturally, a dark brew, hardy and warming, with a sweet malty character balanced by a nice hoppiness. (Okay, so the color is actually more of a deep burnt sienna than black, but "Deepburntsiennafriar? just didn?t have the same ring.) Shelton Brothers commissioned artist Gary Lippincott to make the illustration that adorns the label for the Blackfriar. Here's the story that inspired Gary's painting: "Perth, at the foot of the Scottish highlands, is known historically for its three orders of Dominican monks ? the Black, the Grey, and the White. The cloisters of the Blackfriars, founded in 1231 just north of the old city walls, are remembered as the favorite redoubt of the English kings when in Scotland. But they were also the place where James the First was murdered in the depths of winter, 1437 . . . James?s demise was plotted by the treacherous Robert Stewart, who had had the locks on the King?s chambers in the friary disabled. As Stewart?s cohorts advanced with a great commotion, James found his escape foiled by the iron bars on the windows. He managed to pry up a floor board and climb down into the privy, but he was halted there also. On his own orders, the outlet had been blocked to prevent tennis balls from being lost. Meanwhile, the traitors hunted the King in vain, taking out their frustrations on the Queen and her attendants in the process. When finally the noise abated, James assumed they had gone. He called for assistance in raising himself out of his filthy hiding place but, alas, his assassins had not left. Following his cries, they found him and killed him on the spot. James, and later his Queen, were buried in the Charterhouse at Perth."

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