All hail to the Anstruther pale ale

From left, Reaper crew Neil Bone, Mike Barton (skipper), Tony Davis and John Firn.
From left, Reaper crew Neil Bone, Mike Barton (skipper), Tony Davis and John Firn.

A liquid launch has taken place for a refreshing new scheme which recalls a thriving trade and preserves a key East Neuk maritime tradition.

A clever new arrangement between the Anstruther’s Ship Tavern and Scottish Fisheries Museum, and the Eden Brewery in St Andrews, is raising money for the upkeep of The Reaper, arguably the proudest exhibit in the Museum’s extensive collection.

A special variety of India Pale Ale (IPA) is being supplied by the brewery for the pub – with discounts for Museum customers – and money from each pint sold going towards the maintenance of the historic 1902 herring drifter.

The project represents another strand in the partnership between pub, brewery and visitor attraction, and also recalls days of export trade in the 18th century, when beer was shipped from Britain to India.

The Eden Brewery is supplying the Ship Tavern with a slightly-adapted ‘hoppy’ style of beer, which is reportedly going down well with local people and visitors alike.

David Shields, of the Ship Tavern, said the pub did a lot of promotional work with the Reaper and the Museum, such as selling mugs, tea towels, and more, and accepted a lot of beer from the Eden Brewery.

He asked if it might brew up a special drink to strengthen the bond even more.

“The response has been pretty good to the actual product itself,” said Mr Shields.

“It’s a local thing we have, and it’s good for the tourists as well.”

Customers who show a Museum entry ticket at the bar get 20p off a pint, while the pub also puts 5p from each pint towards maintaining the Reaper.

“It does quite a bit of travelling around the country and it’s very expensive to keep it running,” added Mr Shields.

Some of the pale ale was also put on board the Reaper and made a journey to Anstruther by sea, in a small hark back to the trade’s earlier days .

The vessel itself is a well known floating museum today celebrating the old herring industry .

Scott Gowans, head brewer at the Eden, said the Ship Tavern was one of its earliest customers when it started in 2012.

The pub helped promote its product in the East Neuk and the Eden provided beer for a number of special events in the Anstruther area.

In previous years, the brewery industry used to send beer out to India by sea for the enjoyment of the expatriates.

But often, the long journey, intense heat and packaging in wooden barrels took its toll on the merchandise.

Much of the beer was contaminated with bacteria by the time it arrived and unfit to drink.

A new style of beer, with better water quality, stronger alcohol content and greater use of hops, was developed – and travelled much better.