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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

The CASC blackboard

There is a fair number of bars in Aberdeen, my research made me have a closer look at three of them, and then I stumbled across one more..

CASC – short for Cigars Ale Scotch Coffee, was visited twice. Once during a very quiet lunchtime hour, when the very few other visitors were still into the coffee part of the name. BTW, it looks like they take the consonants seriously, too. There is a humidor that looked impressive.

The beer means a large number of fridges with bottled beer as well as 24 keg lines. Lots of English, American and German beers, even a few from Norwegian Lervig. What I missed was a wider selection of Scottish beers, but maybe they feel that there are others who take care of that side of the market.

Revisited in the evening, fairly packed with a young crowd.

This bar probably has the best selection of beer in town, but go in the early afternoon to enjoy them. Centrally located in the rustic Merchant Quarter.

Bottle Cap is a brewery and a bar. They serve very basic food, too, in case you want to line your stomach. Their own beers were underwhelming. I tried three of them, and the general feeling is that you are being served home brews that did not turn out quite all right. Drinkable, but with an aroma that was quite unpleasant. Not a must stop.

Six Degrees North is next door, but in another league. They call themselves the Belgian brewers of Scotland, but there is more to the place than that. Note that the beers are not brewed on the spot, so this is more like a brewery tap than a brewpub. Not that it really matters much.

A blackboard, which you will not see on your way in, you have to turn around and look above the doorway once you are in the main room, shows the beers on tap, including a handful of their own beers. Once seated, you can have a look at the bottle list, which includes hundreds of Belgian beers . Some of the Six Degrees beers are in the classic Belgian styles, others more crossovers like Belgian IPA and Belgian DIPA. Fine beers, and fine Belgian cooking, too. This one should be on your Aberdeen shortlist.

If that’s not enough, there is a bottle list, too.

Worth mentioning is the Triplekirks, yet another church turned into a bar. The beers were fine, but there was a studenty competition going on that was extremely noisy.

Time to call it a night, as the next day was the big event – the BrewDog brewery visit

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I thought I would stick to Norwegian beers this spring, book writing and all. I was wrong. When I got an e-mail telling me BrewDog wanted to fly me to Scotland to visit their brewery, I was not difficult to persuade.

So, last Thursday, as the pubs were opening, I found myself on Union Street, Aberdeen. One of the places on my list was just a few minutes from the hotel, and it came recommended by the taxi driver that took me in from the airport.

The Grill does not look like much from the outside. It probably had a more elaborate sign, perhaps windows with frosted glass and more trimmings some decades ago. Some details of hops and grapes shows that this was more upmarket in another age.

A look at their web page – I was surprised they had one, shows a long history, the name unchanged since it opened as a restaurant in 1870. Their claim to fame, however, is of another kind:

When the pub reopened after the 7-month long refurbishment, (in 1925) John Innes hung a sign in the window which said “ No Ladies, Please”. For nearly 50 years this remained the policy, despite an invasion by female delegates attending the Scottish Trades Union Congress at the Music Hall in April 1973. This demonstration made front page headlines in the national press and the police had to be called to disperse the thirsty ladies!

It wasn’t until December 1975 that women were officially served in The Grill, following the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975. This was followed sometime after by the construction of a ladies toilet in 1998.

Going inside, it is a well kept pub. Nothing fancy, but tidy and clean. No signs of any food, let alone a grill, though, this is a place for drinking. A place dominated by regulars, good atmosphere, where people are greeted on their way in and their regular is poured right away. Local beers on several hand pumps.

I ask for an American APA from the Windswept brewery. The adult lady tending the bar asked if I had tried it before, and offered me a taster. This was apparently a bit outside the mainstream of their beers. It was pouted expertly, topped up and served with a fine head. The cask gives smoothness, but there was a fine bitter mouth feel, too. Malt, caramel, oranges, discreet pine. And APA? The cask treatment makes it difficult to say. An ESB with American hops is perhaps more correct.

A quite small bar, I looked in later, and it was more packed in the after work rush hour. Personal and attentive service. Some serious drinking old men, some reading their paper, some chatting. Not the cheapest place in town, but certainly not the most expensive.

I liked this place. No pretensions, polite service, well kept beer. But I would not be surprised if it was replaced by a fake Italian place with over priced coffee the next time around. I don’t know if Union Street will keep its name either, come to think of it. Go while you can.

Windswept APA

A proper pint

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Nice to read about BrewDog in the Scotsman, where they reveal that they sell about 200.000 bottles per month. Most breweries would only dream of figures like that a few years after starting a business. And, remember, these are premium beers that fetch premium prices. The next move is to make more beers available in casks and kegs.

I was at a combined beer shop and pub in Italy last week, and their stocks were low after the Christmas season. They had filled up the shelves with BrewDog beers, though.

-They are very expensive, said the landlord.

-But they are so good, I have to have them.

 

I  liked the way they are using the Scotsman interview to say hello to the hardcore fans:

For the drinkers, bloggers and others who follow and support us, rest assured that beer world domination is very much still on the agenda.

Cheers to that!

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The reluctant scooper is a blog worth following, both the contents and the layout impress me. A good introduction is a post on the Portland group and BrewDog. Alan has written about this as well, but this is a refreshing take on the issue.

Speaking of BrewDog, they are not lying down to die, they are launching two new beers – a raspberry imperial stout and a strawberry imperial stout. In a week or so. If I am lucky I get to taste them when I’m in London. And in the list for the Pig’s Ear festivalthere is a BrewDog coffee stout, too.

I think you’d have to camp outside the brewery to get to try all their beers…

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BrewDog is conducting an experiment (Some will say all theri beers are experiments!), where they are giving away control over one of their beers. Here is the setup:

In a series of video installments, they will discuss various alternatives for a new beer. Martin Dickie (Founder), James Watt (Founder) and Stewart Bowman (Head Brewer) will all be passionately arguing their case. Each blog post will feature certain aspects of the beer:

Week 1 – Beer Style

Week 2 – Malts used and target gravities/ABV

Week 3 – Hops used

Week 4 – Speciality processes/ingredients

Week 5 – Beer Name and packaging

 

The readers will then have 5 days to vote based on how convincing the arguments were and their own personal preferences.

The first episode of Beer Rocks will be on the Video Blog on Saturday 15th of November.

Go ahead and do your bit for democracy. For once even Norwegians can vote in a European election.

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BrewDog Anniversary ParadoxThe good people over at BrewDog have outdone themselves. The left some of the beer from their first batch to age for 12 months in a single Bowmore 1968 cask. They bottled this in April, but you don’t have much hope to get your hands on this one, as only 200 bottles were made. Thie Anniversary Paradox comes with a specially designed label and a certificate of authenticity.

Your best bet would be to try to get a bottle from the Swedish Systembolaget, where the beer is released in Mid-July, probably a few bottles each in their flagship stores in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. They charge 480 kroner for this – about 60 Euros.

As for me, I got a package from the brewery. The customs declaration said Yeast sample for analysis, which is stretching it a bit, but not totally untrue.

I’ll keep this in the cellar for some weeks, and I’ll let you know how it tastes.

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