Ahoy there mateys, today we voyage to yonder Shetland. Okay, okay fine – I’ll give up on my dream of being a pirate, the eye-patch has been firmly stuffed in the drawer. And to be fair, I highly doubt pirates frequented the waters of Shetland where Lerwick Brewery produce their pale – vegan-friendly- ale, Skipper’s Ticket.
Quick note - this was initially brewed as a dark/bitter when this review was first published (2014) - but according to current research Skipper's Ticket is now a pale, so the below might be full of utter codswallop.
Named as such because of the location requiring sea travel and a Skipper’s Ticket is a license allowing people to drive boats (which I think would be pretty cool, especially if you were a pirate)… But I digress. As one of two flagship beers, the other of which is 60° North, there is a lot riding on the contents of this little bottle, so let’s throw caution to the wind, raise the mainsail and take a 60° starboard swivel (because that’s the right way… I’m sorry).
Passing with flying colours
If getting a license for a boat was as easy as drinking this beer, well, I’d probably be ferrying Simon Cowell around the French Riviera. On the nose it is kind, fruity and almost nutty with spicy undertones that wash in and out, like the tides. It pours a dark amber with a small head and a slight hint of lacing once it has settled. It is an attractive beer which turns a reddy-auburn in the shade. After a minute or two it is still and peaceful, the kind of conditions I imagine a sailor would hope for on the beginning of a long quest – or, you know – a ferry to the mainland and back.
For landing it they did. This is a strange one to define – and not strange in a bad way. The muskiness of other bitters is not apparent in ol’ Skip’s Ticket, it’s actually quite light in terms of feel – I was expecting something a little meatier. But it’s spritzy almost, the carbonation toys with your tongue, each little bubble bursting gives a consistent bitterness throughout the whole sip – consistent, but not overpowering. It’s also quite dry and leaves a powerful aftertaste – that nutty, spicy hit and some autumnal fruity flavours.
It is a well balanced and very consistent drink. If I were to hunt for a fault I would perhaps say the flavour doesn’t build into a crescendo – it’s all out, straight away. But that works. It works quite well for the lightness of the feel. I can see myself enjoying more of this. I’d keep it away from the Skippers otherwise there may well be some boats going awry and some tickets revoked.