Ale to the King.

Edinburgh's quality beer and ale review and culture site.

Archive for the tag “tipple”

Pub Tour of Edinburgh: Discounts

Hail!

As the posters around Edinburgh, on the facebook event page and on this very site may have alerted you, there will a special offers afforded to us by several pubs on the route.

Those of you joining us on this journey into ale will be issued with Ale to the Kingcards that will prove to staff at participating pubs that you are entitled to these discounts.

I’ll print off enough for all who have signed up as definitely coming, so you won’t have to be sharing around.

Follow Ale to the King on twitter or share your beer experiences with us on untappd.

Join us for our first ever event in Edinburgh here.

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Ale to the King/CamRGB Pub Guide to Edinburgh: Stagger(ered/ing) Eating

Hail!

A quick note regarding eating during Monday’s Ale to the King/CamRGB Live Pub Guide to Edinburgh.

Due to the unexpectedly high turn out for our event (THANK YOU) the charming little pubs on the route have told me they simply don’t have the room to cater for all of us all at once!

Ale to the King knows that, thankfully, people usually don’t want to eat all at the same time, so we’d ask you to eat at whatever pub you like. After all, we’re advising a hearty breakfast and there’ll be free chips early on from the Malt and Hops!

I also ask if you could order your meal with your pint straight away so we can keep on some semblance of a timetable, that would be a gargantuan help to the event!

My thanks, not only in this but to all those who have signed up through the various ways!

I honestly can’t wait for this event and to meet those I haven’t before and be reacquainted with those I have!

Pub Review: The Leith Beer Co., the Shore, Edinburgh

Leith Beer Co. exteriorName: The Leith Beer Co.
Location: 58 The Shore, Edinburgh

Note: This is Ale to the King‘s review of The Leith Beer Co. on its opening night. As pubs do, The Leith Beer Co. may change and grow as it settles into itself.

Beer Selection: The leaflet that popped through the letter box promised “an eclectic draft and bottled drinks range”. True enough there was a good range of bottled beers available, both lagers and ales. You won’t immediately notice them, they’re tucked into the fridges behind the bar. I was actually left a little disappointed upon first arriving; before ordering you’re best to pop your head round the corner to the steps, where a massive blackboard displays all the beers they sell. There’s nothing Leith Beer Co. Beer Listhere that’s particularly new or unusal, but it does cover all the bases. And I do mean all.

That was a relief as I was a tad disappointed by the draft beers on offer. It was the standard range you’d find in any Edinburgh pub that didn’t specialise in ale. The pint of the week was the now ubiquitous Blue Moon from Coors. The only beer I’d not seen before was the Belhaven Black Stout, which was rather tasty, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t particularly regard Belhaven Best.

Atmosphere: Having never visited in its previous incarnation, The Waterline, its impossible for me to compare its atmosphere now to what it once was. On opening night The Leith Beer Co. was bright and airy, if rather subdued and quiet. A thirties crowd seems to frequent this place (with three groups of people talking about Zombies at once oddly).  You’ll easily find somewhere quiet where you can keep yourself to yourself.

Staff: Very helpful and quick to serve. They seem to know a thing or two about beer and are happy to advise and chat. There’s an encouraging air of professionalism here with this welcomeness as well.

Interior/Exterior: This may be hard to judge, since on a morning drive-by people were clearly still putting the finishing touches to the innards. As a result the whole place smelt strongly of B&Q.  It was a very strange experience, to the point it almost interferred with my bottle of Orkney Brewery Dark Isle.

The decoration is very stock, with generic prints of general old-timey-brewy-stuff on the walls and hung on canvas. The chairs are comfortable and the main material used is wood. I don’t know whether its the newness that makes it seem somewhat cheap, only time will tell on that matter.

I can see what they’re going for, a clash of rustic and industrial; the old-timey prints are nicely teamed with ultra-functional looking metal hanging lights, suspended from their most appealing flourish, the solid wooden-planked roof. The Leith Beer Co. seems to be straining for individuality against a tight leash imposed by its owner Belhaven.

There’s a pleasant area out front packed with pub benches where you can watch the ducks and swans on the Water of Leith.

Unfortunately it doesn’t do enough to warrant a near return, especially because its sat so near to three of the ten best ale pubs in Edinburgh.

With a greater range of beers this would have potential to grow into a welcome addition to the Shore, but sadly it falls below what’s already on offer at other pubs.

Follow Ale to the King on twitter or share your beer experiences with us on untappd.

Join us for our first ever event in Edinburgh here.

Ale to the King: A Live Pub Guide to Edinburgh

Date: 04/06/12
Time: 11AM
Place: Teuchter’s Landing, 1C Dock Place, Leith, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Skyline

“Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies come to life and fade away. What care I how time advances; I am drinking ale today.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Ale to the King in association with CamRGB are staging a royal coup.

This bank holiday may be in honour of one particular woman, but there’s a better reason to celebrate these extra free days. So ready yourselves ale lovers! Join Ale to the King on the 4th of June for a leisurely afternoon of quaffing only the finest real ale in Edinburgh’s most welcoming drinking establishments.

Join us for an afternoon (and, let’s face it, evening) voyaging to some of Ale to the King’s top ten best real ale pubs Edinburgh has to offer. Meet fellow ale lovers, talk ale and try something new – with discounts and special offers along the way.

Have a hearty breakfast then get yourself down to Teuchter’s Landing at the Shore for an 11am kick off. Wear comfy beer boots, because we’ll be taking in lots of the city and remember to bring a mere £1.40 for a bus ride we have planned.
Cider/whisky/gin/whateverthehellyouwanttodrink lovers also welcome, but we think you really should give ale a try – because it’s great.

Just sign-up at the official Facebook Event Pagee-mail us at robertjbayley@gmail.com or give us a Tweet or Direct Message!

While there are discounts on offer from pubs this is a totally free event which Ale to the King, CamRGB and the pubs  have arranged purely in the spirit of promoting great craft beer culture, no matter where its brewed or served.

One final note – remember to pace yourself, you don’t want to miss any of the fun now do you?

It might be Queenie’s big day, but on Monday 4th June we’ll be saying – Ale to the King!

Join us on the day by joining our Facebook Event Page, Tweeting us or e-mailing: robertjbayley@gmail.com

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Ten of the Best Edinburgh Ale Pubs

As the 2nd most visited tourist destination in the United Kingdom, Ale to the King hasn’t quite managed to tackle every real ale pub and bar in the capital, but a damn good effort is being made.

Below are my favourite spots to go ale hunting at the moment, ranked from 10 to 1 (1 being, predictably, my absolute favourite).

10. Teuchters Landing

1c Dock Place, Leith
A cosy little establishment on the watery edge of Leith, Teuchters Landing seems both fairly modern and contemporary yet linked to the seafaring past of its area. This unique, squat little building houses one of Edinburgh’s best stocked bars, with 14 beers, both macro and micro brewed, on draught and more bottles in the fridge. It also boasts a particularly good selection of whiskys should you choose to chase that Deuchars IPA. A nice warm fire and comfy leather and wood furniture complete this assuredly professional establishment.

9. Blue Blazer

2 Spittal Street, Old Town
For a brief three months I used to live in this area, charmingly known as the ‘pubic triangle’ due to the abundance of strip clubs. Residing literally round the corner this became a well-visited and loved pub. This Pub of the Year winning, traditional ale house is splendidly decorated in the way a proper, old-fashioned, gentile,  boozer should be. On last visit there were six cask ales ready to be drunk in the numerous hideaways and alcoves in this relaxed, well-maintained place. Prepare to make some compromises in personal space; Blue Blazer is becoming alarmingly popular with the young, fashionable professional crowd post-work, especially given the area and craft beer’s increasing prominance.

8. Stockbrige Tap

2 Raeburn Place, Stockbridge
A place that was unusually full of Black Isle is alright in Ale to the King’s books. For an area so erudite and swish Stockbridge Tap brings a needed earthy not to the area, sitting across from Hector’s and thus proffering up something a little less considered, a little more down-to-earth and a little more honest. It has a charming atmosphere and proper pub games while serving up some of the finest quality drinks going. It also plays host to some cracking beer festivals, so make sure you get down to these when they’re on and join the locals in expanding one’s taste horizons.

7. Brauhaus

105 Lauriston Place, Old Town
Rammed to the rafters with dozens of ale varieties, the Brauhaus, situated at the edge of Old Town, near the Meadows, is in a ripe position to take advantage of the upcoming, arty, area it borders. The beer selection really is vast, albeit most of these are in bottles. The ramshackle, mashed-together aesthetic really speaks volumes of what you can drink here, from more common brews like Stewart’s Edinburgh Gold to £10 bottles of the finest Belgian beer, its all under this roof. While I wouldn’t describe it as particularly cosy, and there can be a horrendous draft if you sit too close to the door of this small place, the number of ales on offer make up for everything.

6. Bow Bar

80 West Bow, Old Town
It looks and feels like its as old as St. Giles itself, but was actually only renovated in the 1990s.  Much of the furniture and decoration here was actually reclaimed from other pubs as they were ‘modernised’ giving this place a lived-in yet spruced-up feel. There are always a great selection of craft beers on pump and its somewhere that’s innocuous enough to be frequented by mostly locals, despite its location in tourist-central. With knowledgeable staff its a great place to start an evening or while away an afternoon. A whole day if it takes you, they have a frankly punishing array of craft beer on at any one moment.

5. Dirty Dick’s

159 Rose Street, New Town
If you thought Brauhaus was a collection of oddities wait until you get a load of this place. The dimly lit pub is so crammed full of unusual items, trinkets and decorations it would be almost impossible for a patron to catalogue them all. Believe me, I’ve had some of the most intense games of drunken eye-spy in Dirty Dicks.  However its not just the unique interior which gives this place the thumbs up. There are regularly four cask beers, well poured by the attentive staff. Easily the best pub on Rose Street.

4. Roseleaf Bar Cafe

23/4 Sandport Place, Leith
Another Leith institution, the Roseleaf Cafe Bar is a welcoming place. Situated just by The Shore, its a fine starting point to start a journey round some of the other real ale pubs Leith has to offer. Something, as you might have gathered by now, that scores big points with Ale to the King is great staff who are happy to serve and advise with your purchases. The staff that have served Ale to the King in the past have been great here. They really know what they’re talking about and always seem happy to chat. There’s a very good selection of beers on tap, expanded upon by the numerous bottles behind the bar. If you’re a fan of Williams Brothers Brewery in particular, this place is for you. A vintage style place without the pretentiousness that often comes with it (and old comics as wallpaper in the toilets to boot!). The food here is nothing short of the best I’ve had in a pub.

3. Malt and Hops Freehouse malt and hops inside

45 Shore, Leith.
Hops hang from the ceiling, a reassuring layer of dust sprinkles the less-used corners and a satisfying beery mustiness fills the air in this proper old fashioned ale house. Much like the Blue Blazer, but turned up a notch and taken back a few years, this is something of a nostalgic blast from the past; it take me back to a time before craft beer wasn’t the coolest booze on the block and my fellow regulars were at least 30 years my senior and wore scratty green jumpers over checked shirts. The Malt and Hops Freehouse stands resolute against the tide of craft beer’s and the Shore’s rising popularity and mainstream attention. At last visit there were a very respectable six casks and the rotation is regular. This is a lovely, cosy, relaxing place to absorb an evening and enjoy the warm fire.

2. Brewdog BarBrewdog Edinburgh inside

143 Cowgate, Cowgate
The Cowgate area of Edinburgh is often undeservedly written off. But amongst the less than reputable drinking establishments, its home to two of the best rock and metal clubs in Edinburgh as well as the quite excellent rock and ale pub venue BannermansAle to the King has already given this place a review worthy of this place on the list, but in brief this exemplifies what it took to get the craft beer revolution into full swing. Offering a great range of Brewdog’s own beers as well as a great selection on others bottled and on tap, this cool bar has a modern, minimal style that is a far cry from the sedate, dank, remote pubs from craft beer’s history. Attracting a crowd that like to stay on top of the newest thing as well as veteran ale drinkers, Brewdog Bar is a refreshing place to spend a Saturday. Careful though, your quest to ‘try just one more’ may leave you crawling instead of walking back home. Or falling into drumkits at Bannermans. Take your pick.

1. Kay’s Bar

39 Jamaica Street, New Town.
Ale to the King has been to many pubs in the capital in a quest for the ultimate ale pub, but none has surpassed Kay’s Bar. This has everything an ale drinker would wish of a bar to a tee. A mighty seven ale pumps often stand ready to dispense barley-pop  and slake even the mightiest of thirsts. The atmosphere is at times  cramped, but the surroundings are so ship-shaped and resolutely, jovially British that this Victorian pub forces this to be nothing less than convivial. There is a games room stocked with games that, shock-horror, have all their pieces. There is a wonderfully warm fire. There are dogs running around your feet, always the friendly kind, looking to say hello. The patrons are uniformly friendly and chatty. There’s the staff, who know more about beer than the staff of anywhere I’ve been and are really nice characters (he’s called Fraser. You’ll know the one I’m talking about). And there’s that one thing that seasoned public house patrons will know; seasoned patrons who go to proper pubs and for whom stepping into a Weatherspoon’s, Varsity or Walkabout is an alien, unfortunate experience; a staircase you’re not sure if you’re allowed to go up or not. If you enjoy going out for a drink in Auld Reekie, you owe it to yourself to go to Kay’s Bar.

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Brew at the Bog Special: Review: The Beers

Brew at the Bog, a festival who’s beer is supplied almost exclusively by Brewdog? This is something Ale to the King couldn’t say no to!

Ale to the King believes that beer is best viewed in the context in which it exists, be that history, whether its from bottle, draft or pimped-out carton, environment its drunk in, distance from birthplace… the list is almost endless. So Brewdog beer served at an inaugural festival that bears much of their branding in the Highlands was a special context indeed.

The beer selection looked great, with pre-festival reports of Punk IPA, 5AM Saint, Zeitgeist Black Lager, 77 Lager and the IPA is Dead range (Citra, Bramling Cross, Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin). Sadly, upon arrival the IPA is Dead range was nowhere to be seen and bar staff weren’t sure what had happened to it. A shame, since I was really looking forward to trying those I have yet to have the pleasure of, but the beers offered were still something to get excited about!

The weather was incredibly cold, the wind and chill blasting in from the Moray Firth, bringing with it flakes of white from the snowcapped mountains. The first beer I tried, and my general go-to grog, was the Punk IPAThe cold really pervaded all the beers, blasting them ice-cold. Using Ale to the King’s previous review as a control, the iciness of the Punk IPA on pump really brought out the tropical flavours, totally overriding the citrus notes. It also boosted the sweetness in the after-taste, leaving the mouth feeling like it was coated in glycerine. Certainly odd but for a different, exciting tasting experience I’d really recommend throwing a can or two in the freezer and drinking at sub-zero temperatures.

The 5AM Saint on pump was similarly altered by the temperatures (I really felt sorry for the bar staff, clutching freezing cans and plastic cups all day). Compared to how it normally comes it was especially sharp and mouth-clenchingly tart. Unusually it took on a very bitter quality on the mid-taste and there was a great, new prickliness to the after-taste. Another one to put in the freezer for a taste experiment.

The 77 Lager was, predictably, unaltered by the cold. Being a lager its naturally served cold; not this cold mind, which lowered the flavour intensity somewhat and really brought out a quality of fine mineral water.

The Zeitgeist Black Lager felt extra carbonated and left a pleasurable tingle on the lips that turned prickly in the cold air. Despite this extra fizz the Zeitgeist Black Lager brought out a unique and overwhelming peppery flavour. A serious twist on an already intriguing beer and another worth experimenting with.

So despite the lack of the IPA is Dead range the beverages on offer at Brew at the Bog were a brilliant, very interesting lot that really changed in the conditions the festival afforded. Unless the beer storage and delivery are changed next year, prepare your tastebuds for an intriguing and surprising journey.

Brew at the Bog Special: Review: Bogbain Farm/Brew at the Bog Venue

Continuing Ale to the King’s coverage of Brew in the Bog festival we turn our eyes to the venue itself.

Bogbain Farm is just south of Inverness, a good three hour drive from Edinburgh (obeying speed limits).

However, what a drive it is; its almost worth the excursion itself when you get across the Forth Bridge, past the dual carriageways (why are there no motorways in Scotland?) and hit Cairngorms National Park.
Before long you’re cruising through some spectacular countryside of snow-capped mountains and mirror-like lochs.

Make sure you check your petrol guage before setting off however, there was a slightly hairy moment when I underestimated how lacking in filling stations some areas of Scotland are.

Also take care when you hit the A9. This stretch is known for lunatics and we encountered our fair share along here.

Arriving at the farm, the camping area was located at the furthest end of the field. Here the cold weather works for the venue. Since campers were allowed to drive right up to the camping area the hardness of the ground prevented the field turning into a boggy, tyre-tracked sludge.

The camp-site was surprisingly small, but then this was the inaugural event, thus was never going to attract the numbers of, say, Wickerman Festival. This had both its merits and flaws. On the meritorious side it kept everyone together and created a more friendly, communal feeling amongst the small number of campers. Had it the run of the whole field then no doubt everyone would have spread out separately and it just wouldn’t have had that special ‘festival’ feeling.

However, that inability to spread out also meant those who would have preferred a quieter experience and got to bed/rise earlier were penned in with those who preferred to party until daybreak.  If you’re coming next year and prefer to wake a little earlier make sure you bring some earplugs.

Something everyone appreciated though, regardless of party-disposition, was the view. Stretching out across the horizon was a gorgeous scene of the Moray Firth. Make sure The campsite viewyou face your tent away from this to avoid an incredibly chilly, draughty night!

As for the performance and, more pertinent/important to Ale to the King, ale serving area, the building and surrounding grounds seemed very appropriate. Being a farm it felt suitably earthy and unpretentious for something that was supplied exclusively by Brewdog, yet had a slightly left-of-field feeling which fit the beverages  equally well. Ale to the King believes all craft beer should be considered within the context of that around it, and there’ll be more talk of that in tomorrow’s post on the beers, but in brief, it worked very well.

As a venue to partake in proper beer it offered something really unique that I’d highly recommend. Outwardly it was very scenic, a large, pretty farmhouse and barns with charmingly decorated disused farm equipment dotted about. Inside was the small The Bothy stage which played host to some great acoustic acts and was, crucially, warm! Decorated with a ornate accordions, fairy lights, tables and chairs and a stuffed otter, it was a great place to relax with a Zeitgeist Black Lager.

The second stage, Go North, was a mid-size white-walled barn. From the roof hung ropes of those old-fashioned fairy lights which are essentially painted lightbulbs. The whole thing was very charming, if bitterly cold.

The main bar itself was something of a treat. Inside the larger, more exposed wooden barn, the beer was ice cold, no doubt helped by the weather but the staff remained friendly and were very pleased to help and even offer advice on what brew would suit one’s palate. Looming over this was a massive wagon (or some other farming contraption this writer is too ill-educated to have identified otherwise).

Beside this was, amusingly a sandpit, replete with toys to play with and the straw-lined floor made the whole area utterly unique. Just outside this was the grassy courtyard, surrounded by an overhanging roof that allows one to stand outside yet be sheltered from the elements should the sun raise its head.

Its an utterly charming, interesting, and with all the odd bits and pieces around, intriguing place to drink craft beer; if there’s another ale-filled event here in the future, festival or otherwise, Ale to the King has no reservations in recommending this as a great, unique place to enjoy yourself.

Bar Review: Brewdog Bar, Cowgate, Edinburgh

by Louise Boyd

Name
: Brewdog Bar Edinburgh
Location: 143 Cowgate, Edinburgh

It seems only right that my guest post for AletotheKing features the very spot where my love affair with ale first began.

Beers Selection: The selection of beer is vast – not just encompassing Brewdog’s own impressive array of quirky, experimental brews – but the fridges are also brimming with tasty beer and cider offerings from far and wide. There’s always something new to try on tap too, with special limited edition Brewdog incarnations and other guest beers on tap – it’s a great place to sample something out of the ordinary.

My personal favourites include the fruity, easy drinking Punk IPA for summertime refreshment or the blacker than treacle Rip Tide stout (it’s strong stuff mind!).

Atmosphere: It took some time for Rob to convince me to accompany him to the Brewdog bar, I mean it’s on the Cowgate for goodness sake. But this funky little place is a far cry from the raucous hen and stag venues which surround it.

After a boozy afternoon in the Sheep’s Heid we stumbled in here for that all important ‘one for the road’, and I must say despite my reservations I was very pleasantly surprised.

Staff: The bar staff are laid back, approachable and confident in their beer knowledge.

Décor: Gone are the sticky carpets of the previous miserable karaoke dive and in its place are cool greys, metal, bricks and big, comfy leather sofas.

The best thing about Brewdog bar, aside from the amazing range of beer, are the little extras which make the bar somewhere you want to hang out with friends. From the board games to beer books to chalk boards offering friendly advice – ‘Don’t remember the song? Play air guitar!’

Louise Boyd runs the brilliant food blog Hungry WeaselYou can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Punk IPA

Beer: Punk IPA
Brewery: Brewdog
Type: India Pale Ale
Served: Bottled
Alc: 5.6% Vol.
Film watched while reviewing: Total Recall

This is a powerhouse of a beer. Punk IPA isn’t weak, weighing in at a respectable 5.6% and has a Hell of a nose. As soon as I poured it into my dimple mug I was hit by an immediate kick of overwhelming elderflower with a slight hint of flour. It also comes with a pungent citrus flavour that lights up the nostrils.

The colour is gorgeous, a bright golden hue like sunshine topped with a bright white, thick, foamy head.

The first element of the sip doesn’t have a great deal to it. There’s a slight lime and grapefruit flavour. Its on the midtaste however where things really kick into gear. The grapefruit becomes ultra-bitter, along with the lime and other tropical fruit flavours, but the kind of fruits that come in sugary sweeties. These really cling to the sides of the mouth.

The after-taste to finish has the highest level of carbonation of what is a very lightly carbonated drink. The flavours die down and stay at a nice level, hovering at a level most other beers never reach the punch of at their height; and boy does it linger. It won’t dislodge from your maw any time soon.

This is a fantastic beer and one of Ale to the King‘s all time favourites. Its a very singular experience, pure, driven and powerful, like watching Crank or listening to a Motorhead album, and thus it delivers exhilaration few can match.

When in doubt, when you can, go for Punk IPA.

Review: Bombardier

Beer: Bombardier
Brewery:  Wells & Young’s
Type: Extra Special Bitter
Served: Bottled
Alc: 4.7% Vol.
Show watched while reviewing: Alan Carr: Chatty Man/Stand Up for the Week.

For a beer that makes such strong claims to ties to traditional English brewing its a shame that Wells’ Bombardier lists two ingredients as Colour E105C and Stabiliser E405. Its already got some points against it in my book for that reason.

However, it does have a lovely chestnut brown colour, the type you’d expect from an old English fashioned beer. But that’s what the colourant is probably for. The somewhat fluffy white head stays nicely atop the drink and doesn’t go anywhere fast.

On the nose there’s a sweet but not sickly flavour of something akin to squashed-hard candy-floss which seems to eminate from the foam.

The foretaste is slight, a pleasant honey flavour with a smoothness that pervades the whole taste. The mid-taste leads on to something rubbery and something like a smooth walnut purée.

Smoothness is also present in the after-taste which is very faintly smokey, like the taste of cigarette smoke but if it were actually pleasant.

Its a sleight beer, smooth and palatable, but just knowing it has those chemicals in it means Ale to the King can’t, within my heart, recommend it. Even as I drink it I can only think ‘this isn’t fair; they’ve cheated to create this’ and like an Olympic athlete using illegal drugs to enhance performance, it has to be disqualified.

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