Kiwi brewer hopes Scots rugby fans will take to Men'n skurts

IT'S A decidedly undiplomatic drink from the antipodes that patriotic Scots may find difficult to stomach.

A New Zealand brewery has created a beer for rugby fans that mockingly suggests that Scotsmen are firmly in touch with their feminine side.

The makers of Men'n Skurrts ale are hopeful it will prove to be the tipple of choice for the thousands of Scots heading to this year's Rugby World Cup. Some members of the Tartan Army will doubtless find the cheeky Kiwi brew to be less than tasteful. However, the owners of the Invercargill Brewery insist the peat-flavoured beer is an affectionate tribute to the city's Caledonian roots.

Steve Nally, the founder of the South Island craft beer firm, said: "Invercargill was originally a Scottish settlement and our main streets are Tay, Dee, Clyde, Spey and Esk. We remain very proud of our heritage, so it was logical step to look to Scotland for inspiration.

"We're also the host city for Scotland during the Rugby World Cup so it seemed like an ideal way to make visitors feel welcome."

The brewer insisted no offence was meant to proud wearers of Scotland's national dress and hoped none would be taken. He said: "So far the only feedback we've had has been positive."

But Gil Hoye of kilt-makers Slanj, which has provided Highland dress for Ewan McGregor, Billy Connolly and Sir Sean Connery, felt some traditionalists would find the beer insulting rather than refreshing.

He said: "There will be some die-hard patriots who will take offence at the idea of the kilt being described as a skirt."

However, the Scottish Tartans Authority felt most Scots would see the funny side.

Director Brian Wilton said: "If we can't laugh at ourselves then there is some far wrong. I think the rugby fans and players will take it in their stride and it's very much in keeping with the tone of the event. Men'n Skurrts is a good name and the humour shines through."

Tory MSP Jamie McGrigor, who successfully campaigned at Holyrood for the introduction of a Scottish Tartan Register, was also amused rather than offended.

He said: "This sounds to me like typical rugby banter and, as such, is quite acceptable. In the First World War the kilted Scots troops were referred to as the 'ladies from hell' and the name became regarded as a badge of honour."

Scotland's World Cup campaign will begin in Invercargill on 10 September against Romania. The national team will remain in the city and will face Georgia on 14 September before moving on to Wellington where they play Argentina and Auckland for the crunch final group game with England.

Invercargill, which now has a population of 50,000, was named after William Cargill, an Edinburgh-born pioneer who helped to establish the first European settlements in the region.

The city boasts a thriving pipe band, while regional professional rugby team the Highlanders, whose logo features a kilted warrior, often play home matches at Invercargill's Rugby Park Stadium. Thousands of Scottish fans are expected to flock to the city during the event.