Sunday, 31 July 2011


Last time I was in Edinburgh my Scottish friend insisted I order pints of heavy (McEwen's Export) or lager (Tennent's). That was a long time ago.

It's changed a bit since then.

After wandering around getting my bearings and eyeing up potential watering holes there was a bit of time to do touristy stuff. Plus expand my Tweed collection by buying a hat from Fabhatrix.

Nearby on Bow is The Bow Bar
I went for the kegged Black Isle Organic Porter. Chilled & thirst quenching for the first half, then roasted , almost aniseed flavours coming through as the beer warmed.

Followed this with a cask Tempest RyePA. I'd heard good things about this beer and I wasn't disappointed.
Quite similar to BrewDog's 5am Saint, red with fruity malt flavours.

I liked the Bow Bar. Had the feel of a regulars' boozer. Most of the older men in there were sticking with Tennent's and Deuchars, but there was a good selection of Scottish ales.

It's difficult to say which was my favourite pub on this visit but The Stockbridge Tap comes close. A smart looking place.
There was a decent sized lunchtime crowd tucking into the great food. Shame I'd already lined my stomach with a Scottish delicacy of Cheese Savoury bagette from Greggs.

I drank the Black Isle Goldeneye Pale ale as the sun burst through the pub window. My partner in crime sucked down a cask Black Isle Yellowhammer.

Off towards Cornelius Beers to grab a few Scottish bottles for myself and gifts to take home, pausing on the way for an Edinburgh snack of chips and sauce.

Apart from visiting the obvious (BrewDog bar) we made it to the Cloisters bar. Another no nonsense boozer with a good mixed crowd of drinkers and plenty of Scottish beers. I wasn't particularly adventurous and drank Goldeneye again. If I'd wanted I could have chosen beers by Cairngorm or Stewart.

If we had more time we would have explored a few other pubs too including the Red Squirrel and the Blue Blazer. But hey, who wants to spend all their time walking between pubs when they could be sitting in one with their knees and elbow bent?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

BrewDog Edinburgh

A boozy couple of days in Edinburgh wouldn't be complete without a visit to the BrewDog bar. In fact we went here a few times.

I recall a few bars in the late 90s having interiors like this place, minimalist and industrial, bare brick walls with scruffy looking furniture. It seemed to fit with the grey concrete look of the outside of the building.

The core range of BrewDog beers were on apart from Trashy Blonde, a beer of theirs I've yet to try from the keg. Do they even put it in kegs? Had it plenty of times on cask.

I was going to work my way through the bar over a few visits. That included some of the guest beers. And maybe a pizza.

Alice Porter. This is a stunning beer on cask. Smooth. Roasty. Decent enough today. Just not cask.

Time for something unusual, Royal Virility Performance. Damn. The tap was firing blanks. No joy. This herbal Viagra IPA had already dumped its load. Better try the Imperial Wheat.

Now, you find beers in the BrewDog bars that they don't bottle and the Imperial Wheat was one.
Served in thirds. Strong, warming, Belgian yeast. Gorgeous. I wonder if it will end up as one of the Abstrakt beers?
Guest beers on included Stone Cali-Belgique; bargain of the day as a half pint was served in a US pint glass. The deliciously drinkable Mikkeller Sur Monk was also ordered.

I wasn't too impressed with the pizza. It looked like it was someone's first ever attempt at cooking a pizza. Loaded with cheddar, stodgy and greasy. Even shared with another person it was too much.

The staff at the bar were all very helpful and quick to serve when the bar was busy. They were also giving tasters to customers that had seemingly never had a BrewDog beer before.
The customers were a mixed crowd; from beer tourists to button down shirted geezers slugging 77 Lager from the bottle, from trendy girls drinking bottled Trashy Blonde to bands about to play at a venue a few doors away trying Tokyo* for the first time.

It was my first visit to a BrewDog bar and it was just as I expected.
They're soon to be cropping up all over the place I imagine. I won't have to travel so far next time.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Oakham Ales Green Devil IPA

Oakham Ales don't do many IPAs.
They do a ton of pale ales that other breweries would call IPAs. Oakham do pale ales very well.

Anyway, off the top of my head I can only recall Oakham brewing three IPAs previously; Tranquility, Khyber Pass and X-Terminator.

Well, there's now a fourth.
Green Devil IPA is here. At 6% abv it's like a souped-up version of Citra. It's mouth-puckering like chewing on a stick of rhubarb or a fistful of gooseberries. Refreshing. Thirst-lashing. A massive dry finish that makes you gasping for another gulp until the glass is drained.

It was on in the Swan & Rushes on Tuesday and Wednesday and most of the folk in the pub were drinking it. One chap said it was the best pint of Oakham he'd had since the Nelson Sauvin single hop.
He wasn't wrong.

Get it while you can.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Dragon Slayer

Another week, another new pub.
On 29 June the George & Dragon at Stoke Golding, Leics reopened.
It's the first pub the Warwickshire based brewery Church End have launched.

As a patron of the Church End Brewery Tap at Ridge Lane I thought it the decent thing to go and check out their new venture.

Stoke Golding is around 15 miles from Leicester so I would have to get a bus or train to Hinckley then another bus.
The sun was shining so I decided to cycle there.

It's a fairly small two-roomed place with a car park and good beer garden. Disappointingly there's nowhere to lock bikes but I found a lampost.

As you enter the Bar is the left door, the Snug is the right. In the middle the old Off Sales hatch is still there. I hope it gets some use.

I chose the cosy Snug, the smell of fresh paint in the air.
On the bar that day were Grave Diggers Mild, Stout Coffin, Fallen Angel, Goat's Milk and What The Fox's Hat; all Church End brews.
I was pleased to hear the barmaid tell another punter the only lager on sale was Freedom Four "a hand-crafted lager from Staffordshire". One of my favourites, of course.

The only food on sale when I visited was cheese by the Leicestershire Handmade Cheese co and local pork pies. They will be hiring a cook for hot food in a couple of weeks.

I had the Goat's Milk and Stout Coffin, my sidekick went for W.T.F.H. which reminds me a little of Bass. All in great condition, it would be a pleasure to work the way through the beer menu.

I would have liked to have stayed longer but getting back by bike meant I couldn't.
Next time I'll use public transport.