Black Cork

The Brew...
Black Cork was a beer brewed in Edinburgh in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was brewed by Bell's brewery which used to be located where the Pleasance Theatre now stands. The recipe and secret of brewing Black Cork seems to have died with it's last brewer Robert Keir in 1837.
“At a distance from Nicolson Street on the east is another suburb of Edinburgh called the Pleasance This formerly belonged to the Earls of Roxburgh and was from one of them by the magistrates of Edinburgh AD 1638 The Pleasance consists of one mean street it lies the principal road to London There is nothing remarkable in this suburb except a large brewery with vaults belonging to Mr Bell where the best strong beer made of any brewed for sale in Scotland. The quality of is indeed so good as to recommend itself to be purchased not only for home consumpt but also for exportation"
We have created an intensely dark beer using pale malt, crystal malt, chocolate malt, oats and malted wheat. Hops are added in 3 stages to create a prominent bitterness and hop aroma.
A massive thank you to a couple of people who contributed to the development of this beer.
Robbie Pickering who did some excellent research on the history of Black Cork and who challenged exactly what style of beer Black Cork was. I guess we will never know but we have produced a beer which is inspired by the mystery surrounding this legendary beer. You can find Robbie's research here:
Archie "more hops" Carmichael  - manager of the Stockbridge Tap - who helped develop the recipe and encouraged (forced) me to add more hops.
 Deacon Brodie and Black Cork

Deacon William BrodieA greatly respected member of Edinburgh's society, Brodie (1741-88) was a skilful cabinet-maker and a member of the Town Council as well as deacon (head) of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons.

However, Brodie led a double life. He was a heavy gambler, had a number of mistresses and illegitimate children and at night would lead a gang of burglars using his privileged position to make wax imprints of keys to the buildings in which he was working.

Brodies last crime was a bungled raid on His Majesty's Excise Office in the Canongate. The night of the raid Brodie and his accomplices Smith, Ainslie and Brown "met in an upper room in Smith's house, and had some herrings, chickens, gin, and black cork, which last he explained to be Bell's beer…”  “Trial of W. Brodie and G. Smith”, in The Scots magazine, August 1788, p371

Ainslie was caught and turned Kings evidence on the rest of the gang. Brodie fled to Amsterdam where he was eventually hunted down and extradited to stand trial in Edinburgh. Found guilty, he was sentenced to hang along with Smith. Ironically it is likely that he had a hand in the design and construction of the very gibbet on which he was hanged.

So, perhaps Black Cork had a part to play in the downfall of Deacon Brodie on that fateful night.

The Beer...

ABV: 6.5%

Colour: Black

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee

Flavour: Chocolate,  coffee, liquorice, aniseed, grapefruit.

Food Pairing: Chicken & Herrings...if you dare!