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Northern Scotland recommendations

Discussion in 'UK & Ireland' started by jedwards, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    Hi all! I've not posted in this forum before -- hopefully this isn't completely redundant (I found a few threads mostly about beer near Glasgow and Aberdeen and to the south).

    We'll be spending a few days in the Shetlands, then taking the ferry down through Kirkwall, across to the mainland, and drive down through Inverness/etc, eventually ending up at Edinburgh for a another few days. I'm hoping to visit some distilleries and breweries along the way and try some good real ale. I know there's not a lot up that way but any particular pubs or breweries to look out for, or worth heading towards? Since our route isn't finalized it doesn't count as a detour yet!

    Any places that are a brewery + inn / bed & breakfast would be particularly appealing. I'm looking at maybe popping south to stay one night at Traquair but of course it's quite expensive.
    ImperialStoat likes this.
  2. I think they drink muddy water there
  3. shyhenry

    shyhenry Aficionado (145) Virginia Oct 11, 2010

    boddhitree and jedwards like this.
  4. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    That spot looks terrific. Going to see if I can book a couple nights there, thank you!
  5. Shetland wise I'd recommend the Spiggie Hotel in Scousbourgh and the Westings Inn in Wormdale. In Kirkwall on Orkney try the Bothy Bar (Albert Hotel) on Mounthoolie Lane and Helgi's Bar on Harbour Street.

    Brewery tours at the moment can be a bit of a disappointment but do visit the Black Isle Brewery in Munlochy no more than ten miles north east on Inverness. The head brewer Colin Stronge is a good guy and they're producing some great stuff now. In Inverness don't miss Blackfriars on Academy Street and Castle Terrace on View Place.

    Edinburgh is really where you want to be and is spearheading the whole Craft scene in Scotland. The Hanging Bat ion Lothian Road is superb and showcases superb craft (14 craft kegs) and cask (6) beers. Stay at the Premier Inn on Morrison Link just a hop skip and a jump away. The convenience of the location is a must. Also within the area try Cloisters (nearby Nina's Premier corner shop usually has good hard to find stuff) ,the Bow Bar (an absolute definite must) and maybe BrewDog of the many pubs to choose from. But there are many many more worthy places to hit.

    Brewery wise look out for beers from Luckie Ales, Black Isle, Cromarty, Tempest, Fyne Ales, Stewart Brewing, Innocente Brew, and Elixir Brewing Co as they are all worth checking out. Great things are happening in Scotland now. Its been the best time for Scots beer drinkers in over 40 years at least.

    Hope this helps.
  6. bjwalp

    bjwalp Disciple (50) Virginia Jan 21, 2011

    It’s been quite a few years since I was there but I’ll second the Black Isle Brewery, it was a great experience, very small though. Also if you’re going to be passing by Pitlochry on your way down to Edinburgh stop at the Edradour distillery.

  7. That Nina's Premier shop is a bit of a find! I remember seeing the majority of the Andechs beers in there a couple of years ago, well priced too!
    Zimbo likes this.
  8. jmw

    jmw Savant (430) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    Actually can't recall a query for these particular places at all. Nice to see some talk of the north.
    And the Moulin Inn, where you'll find beer and a bed.
    Zimbo and jedwards like this.
  9. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    Terrific recommendations, all -- I've booked nights at the Anderson, the Moulin, and a few other spots around the highlands (Ardadour, Skye, Inverness). Hoping to do tours at Valhalla, Orkney, Black Isle, and Harviestoun at least (plus distilleries, of course). The Premier Inn in Edinburgh was all booked up but I found us a room right in city centre. If anyone's around for a beer May 8-11 in Edinburgh let me know!
  10. I'll need to check my work diary and get back to you on that.
  11. And as of last week the head brewer at Buxton.
  12. Yeah, I heard. But he's not starting until May. Don't think the Inverness climate and isolation was much to his liking.
  13. I don't doubt it. Probably nice to be made the head-cheese at a brewery that's quickly gaining international recognition too.
  14. Nice but daunting I bet!
  15. If you're looking for something a bit different in Edinburgh, be sure to check out the Brauhaus (a few minutes walk from The Hanging Bat) - they have a fantastic selection of German beers.

    Also keep your eye out for anything from the Inveralmond and Orkney breweries - their core line-up can be found in most local supermarkets - particularly Tescos - for very reasonable prices.
    Zimbo likes this.
  16. Good call on Brauhaus. Funny how places like it fall through the net when talking Edinburgh drinking holes. Guess its a reflection on how good Edinburgh is getting.
  17. Oh yeah and it's really nice up there.

    Have a great time!
  18. If you are staying in skye and want a nice meal the three chimneys is well worth a visit
  19. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    Spiggie was great -- wasn't able to use the Kirkwall recommendations (didn't much feel like drinking after that ferry ride...) but we'll be at the Ferry Inn in Stromness tonight which has just renovated. Inverness tomorrow, then a few days in the west before stopping back through the Black Isle on Sunday on our way to Speyside!
  20. jmw

    jmw Savant (430) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    color me jealous
  21. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    The Anderson was terrific (amazing selection of malts as well and wonderful food), as was the Moulin Hotel. On our way to Edinburgh for the next four nights if anyone's around for a beer!
  22. Would love to take you up on this Edinburgh offer but I'm all tied up at the moment. Enjoy.
  23. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    No worries, had a great time. Didn't make it to Cloisters, but Hanging Bat and the Bow Bar were both great.

    Thanks again for all the recommendations, had a wonderful trip!
    Padraig, Zimbo and CwrwAmByth like this.
  24. The Bow Bar and The Hanging Bat are two of Edinburgh's absolute finest. What did you drink?
  25. jedwards

    jedwards Savant (330) California Feb 3, 2009

    I have them all written down someplace, but it's buried under unpacking right now... will post a fuller list when I unearth it. Had a few great beers from both Fyne and Tempest (missed a Tempest brewer's night, which was too bad), a few BrewDog beers at their pub (and, like a tourist, took a picture of myself holding the End of History bottle), and tried two really good Buxton beers at the Hanging Bat (was hoping to track down some Tsar Bomba and failed, but I got to try the regular Tsar, which was excellent). Earlier in the trip had a bit from Black Isle, lots from Orkney (Dark Island on cask... so good), Isle of Skye, and Kernel (got their Double Citra at Holyrood 9A, which was fantastic).

    Also, Valhalla in Shetland is starting to put their beers into key kegs, which will hopefully improve distribution and quality. He's been hand-bottling everything not in a cask up until now, but was installing the first part of a real bottling line the day we were up there (really, really worth scheduling a tour if anyone ever happens to be on Unst). The two (Island Bere and Old Scatness) that he's using bere malt in are particularly interesting. We also took a tour at Harviestoun, who just expanded to a new storage facility and has about two dozen more barrels of Old Dubh going, which smell amazing. It seemed like they didn't have a real tour, but we e-mailed in advance and got shown around by one of the brewers. Quite a good time.

  26. Awesome. Looking forward to reading that fuller list when you unearth it. Your commitment to beer on your visit was outstanding. Wish we could have hooked up.

    If you don't mind me asking, what were your expectations of the Scottish beer scene when you arrived here and what were your impressions of it when you left? I'm really curious.

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