There’s a healthy brewing scene in Edinburgh, but unfortunately many of them aren’t open to the public for walk-in visits. However, as a sleep-deprived, coughing, no doubt liver-damaged survivor of a whirlwind 21-day Contiki tour of Europe I was in need of sustenance and a beer that wasn’t cheap lager. On a typically (or so I imagine) overcast Edinburgh afternoon I found salvation at the BrewDog Bar.
Tucked away from the main drag on a street somehow named Cowgate, the small, unasssuming bar is easy to miss. In fact, due to Ediburgh having many small alleys and sidestreets I almost didn’t find it. But, on the verge of heading back to my hostel, I spotted the iconic logo.
World-renowned for producing sensational brews, BrewDog seek to push the boundaries of beer – both in terms of flavour, and of what we consider to be beer. Fancy a stupidly hopped IPA? Done. A spicy, biscuity amber ale? Sure. A fractionally frozen 55% ‘beer’ that comes served in a stuffed squirell? Come right in!
The bar itself consists of several multi – seat booths, a few stools along the main bar, and various BrewDog and guest brewers bottles strewn around the vicinity. It’s warm, the staff welcoming, and the beer delicious.
A tasting paddle of four 1/3 pints set me back £8, and I made the most of my quartet. In order of drinking I present to you:
Dead Pony Club (3.8%) – A ‘west coast’ session pale ale, it presents with plenty of fruity, tropical hop flavours. With a slightly bitter finish rounding things out, it’s surprisingly ‘normal’.
5am Saint (5%) – BrewDog’s take on an amber ale, the ‘Saint’ delivers strong malt flavours, biscuity hints, and a slightly spicy finish.
Dogma (7.4%) – Taking things up a notch, this particular Scotch Ale combines 10 malts and is infused with heather honey. It’s smooth, sweet, dark, and deceptively drinkable. Definitely one suited to Edinburgh.
Shipwrecker Circus (10.5%) – The finish is BrewDog’s current barleywine. Strong, sweet, malty, hoppy, and with a drying finish, this beer delivers on all expectations.
Suitably inspired I sampled a couple more, because why not really? As instilled in me by Contiki, #noregrets
Old World IPA (7.5%) – So called because it is a more ‘traditional’ IPA, it shies away from the overtly aggressive stonefruit and tropical hop flavours associated with IPA’s these days, and instead delivers a strog malt backbone enhanced by a good bitter kick.
Fake Lager (4.7%) – A bohemian pilsner, this beer tastes like what lager should, but sadly doesn’t. Spicy, refreshing, and malty enough to remind you what you’re drinking.
With tiredness overtaking me, I departed while I still had my senses, and while my bank balance still liked me.
Do yourself a favour and come to Edinburgh. Or just track down BrewDog wherever you might be. Your tastebuds will thank me later.