Falkirk’s very own medieval hero is to have three quality craft ales named in his honour, thanks to Larbert’s award-winning Tryst brewery and a local heritage group.
Regulars at the town’s historic Tolbooth Tavern were possibly slightly bemused at the sight of a trio of armour-clad 13th century warriors clanking their way to the bar to sample the brewery’s latest tipple.
Parking their heavy steel helmets on the bar the re-enactment stalwarts carried out a vital tasting session of the new brew, and, eventually, declared it a winner.
The beer is inspired by the real-life Sir John de Graeme, who died while fighting alongside Sir William Wallace in the 1298 first Battle of Falkirk.
The first beer is now officially launched, and two more will follow in due course.
Heritage group the Society of John de Graeme suggested to Tryst Brewery’s John McGarva that the town’s own Braveheart would be an excellent theme for a niche themed beer - or three.
In the end the Larbert brewer (regarded in craft beer circles as one of the top independent brewers in Scotland) decided to create a range calculated to appeal to all tastes.
The Society got the idea of promoting the memory of Sir John’s links with the town from Fife’s Loch Leven Brewery, which has also created beers to mark Scotland’s historic Wars of Independence.
The bottle labels carry the knight’s image, showing him in the correct heraldry he would have sported on the fateful day when Wallace’s Scottish army was routed by the forces of England’s Edward Longshanks.
The artwork for the labels was designed by Andrew McCourt, the Society’s resident artist.
Sir John is buried in a landmark grave in the grounds of Trinity Church.
The beers are The John de Graeme (already launched), Brightsword, and The 1298, all of which are thought likely to appeal to visitors, local heritage enthusiasts ... and people who just like a nice drop of craft ale.
They will all be trialled - probably extensively - at the Tolbooth Tavern, before being rolled out for further distribution.
Tryst has a wide portfolio of ales in bottle and on draught, and has previously won acclaim at major beer awards events for its bottle-conditioned ales - regarded by experts as among the most difficult products to manage well.
It’s not the first time it has produced themed beers, and has existing products including The Falkirk Wheel, Carronade (named after a naval cannon once forged at the Carron Iron Works).