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Published on November 4th, 2013 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Taste test – Let’s get physics-ale

They’re the choice of a Nobel Prize winner, so the Cheers taste team just had to give two classic beers a try

 Particle physicist Professor Peter Higgs was pictured celebrating his Nobel Prize in Physics last month with a bottle of Fuller’s London Pride. Newcastle-born Higgs held up a bottle of the famous brew when asked how he would toast his win.

The emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh was recognised for his work on the theory of the particle which shares his name, the Higgs boson.

Prof Higgs has revealed he didn’t know about the award until an old neighbour congratulated him in the street. According to staff at The Vintage delicatessen and restaurant in Leith, Edinburgh, he had earlier enjoyed, “a spot of lunch and a rather fine schooner of Orkney Blast” before finding out he had been given the award.

He said: “She congratulated me on the news and I said ‘Oh, what news?’ I heard more about it obviously when I got home and started reading the messages.”

Prof Higgs was born in Elswick, Newcastle, in 1929, within aroma-distance of the Tyne Brewery. Could that have influenced his theorising and his attraction to particularly fine beer? Discuss.

Fuller’s London Pride (4.1% abv)

Although it’s regarded as the best-selling premium cask ale in Britain, London Pride doesn’t appear to get much of a look-in around North East pubs (or is it because we tend to look out for less “obvious” beers and bypass it?). But try it and see what a consistently glorious ale it is. A complex hop regime involves Challenger, Northdown and Target varieties with Target used mainly for bitterness and the other two added late for maximum aroma. Fuller’s signature yeast strain develops deep orange marmalade notes, while Optic pale malt (combined with a small amount of Crystal and flaked maize) contributes a biscuit malt flavour in perfect balance with the floral, spice and resinous hop surge.

Highland Brewing Orkney Blast (6.0% abv)

This former Champion Beer of Scotland (2010) is a real stunner and a firm favourite when it takes its turn around the region’s handpulls. Its pale golden colour disguises rich, fruity malt flavours (Maris Otter) with bready yeast hints and earthy, woody, honey notes fired up and presented to the palate with that strong attack of alcohol. It’s a classy ale that works well from summer barbecues to winter sessions in front of the pub fire. Deceivingly easy to drink, it’s one to take care with.

The Orkney Blast was a WWII newspaper circulated around the islands’ army bases, ships and aerodromes between 1941 and 1944.

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Alastair Gilmour



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