Edinburgh brewers concoct Buckfast and tablet ale

Rory Reynolds takes the plunge and samples Benedictine Groove
Rory Reynolds takes the plunge and samples Benedictine Groove
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THE name has long been a byword for all that’s worst in Scottish culture. But Buckfast, the tipple of choice of a generation of neds, just got respectable.

Its sticky-sweet taste has been borrowed by two up-and-coming Edinburgh brewers to create what they believe is the first-ever barrel of Buckfast infused beer.

Ben Bullen and Barry Robertson say their first batch of Benedictine Groove has proven so popular with punters they already have orders from wholesale suppliers, off-licences and city pubs.
They plan to concoct 1,600 litres of the £3.80-a-pint elixir next week – with more planned.

“We realise there is a reputation that goes along with Buckfast but the final result is a long way from the original,” Barry, 33, from Prestonpans, said.

He revealed the secret to creating their Buckfast-infused beer involves blending the contents of a whole bottle with 100 litres of ale, along with a dose of sugary Scottish tablet. The result is an original ale with hints of port, caramel, and spice with a smoky aftertaste and the caffeine kick the monk-brewed tonic wine is known for.

Barry, who runs the Cloisters bar in Tollcross, said their firm, Elixir Brew Co, hoped to attract a following from real ale fans who will enjoy the refreshing pint with gourmet grub.

He said: “Hopefully people won’t drink it the same way as they do Buckfast. And that’s pretty unlikely given it’s only 5.5 per cent and will probably be a bit more expensive.

“It’s a concept beer with delicate notes and that port flavour really comes out.”

Ben, 32, originally from Adeleide in Australia, but now living in Bruntsfield, said he hopes the fortified tipple will become a best-seller across Edinburgh and further afield.

He said: “At the moment we’re just selling a few bottles but if it takes off we could be making thousands of bottles every day. We think it’s a great beer and we’d certainly like to see everyone drinking Benedictine Groove one day.”

Ben, who splits his time creating beer with working as a podiatrist, said to aid their ambitious plans for Benedictine Groove they import and use only the finest hops from the United States and New Zealand, and hope to move to their own small purpose-built brewing facility in the months to come.

Barry added: “We want to leave our jobs and make a career out of it and create beers that people want to drink.

“We’re hoping to establish ourselves as an experimental brewery, trying different brews from scratch. The Buckfast beer has worked really well – and we haven’t had any exploding bottles yet.”

Along with Benedictine Groove, Ben and Barry have also experimented with a milk stout, containing lactose, a sugar derived from milk, described as a smooth beer.


HAVING been unfortunate enough to have swigged from a bottle of “Coatbridge Table Wine” in the past, I was unconvinced that a beer crafted from Buckfast would appeal.

But the Elixir’s Benedictine Groove, named in honour of the monks that silently toil to produce the tonic wine, is destined for great things.

A medium-bodied ale, it’s got a hell of a kick, and left me wobbling back to the office after our morning tasting session. Especially after just two Weetabix!

Bucking the trend

SCOTLAND is no stranger to Buckfast-infused “delicacies”, with a number of people experimenting with the tonic wine as an ingredient in recent years.

Last December, bakers at Brownings, in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, sold out of a special edition 90p Buckfast-infused Scotch pie in just a few hours.

And in 2010 the E:S:I brasserie in Leith introduced Buckfast ice cream, following the success of Buckie rhubarb crumble the previous year.

“The ice cream’s not quite what they’re expecting,” a spokesman said.