John Gibson: Brew up a fitting Muir compliment

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By rights there should be in Dunbar’s High Street a tribute to John Muir as big, as imposing and gob-smacking as we have in Princes Street to Sir Walter.

There’s a plaque nailed to the wall in the East Lothian spa town, it’s true. But it’s itsy-bitsy and the American tourists who make their way there in homage, aided by Sherlock Holmes, can barely believe what they’re seeing. Little wonder they chuckle – if they don’t emit a despairing sob.

Here’s me making a song and dance about a man who, every chance, hasn’t been heard of by East Lothian’s young Turks. Muir, pictured right, was born in 1838 and emigrated to Wisoconsin in America when he was 11. He died in 1914.

In the late 1860s he decided to go walkabout, discovering the States’ vast open spaces, saving many of them from deforestation, including the Yosemite.

Muir, so to speak, wrote his name over vast tracts of the big country.

Get to the point, Gibson. Brewer extraordinaire Russell Sharp, pictured below, was managing director at the Caledonian Brewery at Slateford for 18 years and he has something brewing as we speak.

‘‘This is the 100th anniversary of John Muir’s death so we have created a Wilderness Ale in the celebrated naturalist’s 
name at the Belhaven Brewery just along the road from Dunbar.

‘‘It’s an excellent quality cask beer based on East Lothian barley, four per cent, and already we’ve tried it out in California, where the reaction has been encouraging to say the least.’’

Russell adds: “I daresay John himself would have approved, although, as far as I know, alcohol never touched his lips.’’