Great Britain What to do around Aberdeen?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by TheBeerAlmanac, Apr 3, 2013.

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  1. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Savant (967) Mar 3, 2011 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    I might be making a trip in late August to Aberdeen for a relative's wedding. I'm pumped but have no idea what to expect there. We don't necessarily plan on visiting any other part of Scotland or the UK, but the wife and I will probably turn this into a week long vacation so suggestions are what I need. I'd love to find good breweries and places to get bottles to bring home. I searched this forum and didn't find much info, except that I'm not supposed to tip in a pub? Which is weird to me...

    Also, what's the preferred method of local and/or long distance transportation if I don't have a car?
  2. ImperialStoat

    ImperialStoat Aspirant (246) May 20, 2009 Ireland
    Beer Trader

    Wacky idea coming up, prepare yourself: in lieu of expecting additional money from their customers, pub staff are actually paid a liveable wage by their employers!

    CwrwAmByth and TheBeerAlmanac like this.
  3. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Quote a friend of a friend, who was in art school but ended up somehow waiting at a pub in Aberdeenshire:

    "In London, drunk brawlers just throw chairs at each other because they love each other too much. In deep dark Aberdeenshire, I've witnessed PROPER violence."

    He then proceeded to tell the story about a farmer ranting and raving because production of a certain type of pint glass was stopped because it was apparently perfect for gouging out eyes.

    EmperorBevis likes this.
  4. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (178) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Aberdeen is a dump. Get a train to Edinburgh, only takes a couple of hours.
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  5. Aye

    Aye Aspirant (239) Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Brewdog is your best bet.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say Aberdeen is a dump. Having stayed with friends who lived in some of its more characterful estates I can understand folks views that the Granite City can appear grey and unlovely. But aside from the faux homeless begging for smack money and the dreecht weather I've always had a great time there and out in the sticks.

    City centre pubs
    The Archibald Simpson
    Old Blackfriars
    Prince Of Wales
    The Moorings

    Couple of Oddbins off licences and Kelly of Cults food and drink shop.
    champ103, TheBeerAlmanac and grantcty like this.
  6. Aye

    Aye Aspirant (239) Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Don't fuck with the Teuchters!

    Places like Meldrum look like sleepy wee towns right out of Oor Wullie or The Broons but I've seen it kick off big style in a second.
  7. Padraig

    Padraig Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2013 United Kingdom (England)
    Beer Trader

    Lived there for 4 years in the 90's and was very glad to leave. So depressing in winter but being in August you should have some decent weather (hopefully).

    If you're prepared to hire a car you can drive around the Highlands which has some stunning scenery. If you make it as far as Inverness there are a couple of semi-interesting beers spots (Tomlinson's, The Anderson, check other threads on this page).

    But if you've got a week I'd definitely second the suggestion to get a train to Edinburgh. More interesting tourist stuff and way better for beer. Also you will be able to catch the Edinburgh Festival that month. Might make accommodation expensive/hard to get but definitely a good time to visit.
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  8. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (67) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    A word to the wise and not to hijack your thread but I would take what the majority of the English folk say about tipping with a grain of salt as they are still embedded in their traditional ways and have not awaken to the reality that pub workers are paid a real pittance; not as low as the US but take home pay is lower when tips or lack thereof is taken into account where also similar to the US their wages haven't increased in years.

    So just to summarise thanks to the english traditional ways it isn't compulsory to tip but from what I've outlined above it is very much appreciated.
  9. grantcty

    grantcty Initiate (83) Feb 17, 2008 Minnesota

    Pretty much echo everything you've said. I studied/lived in Aberdeen and find the "dump" comment a bit over-the-top too. I wonder if WhataNicePub is a Rangers supporter? ;):D

    In addition to your list, I'd add The Grill. Fantastic whisky selection and it often has at least a couple of good real ales.
    Zimbo and TheBeerAlmanac like this.
  10. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Poo-Bah (1,716) Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    To add my experience in, it's normal to tip a waiter/waitress in a restaurant, but if you gave a tip to the average pub/bar server, they will be (albeit pleasantly) surprised, because there is not really a culture for tipping someone for pouring you a drink. Fortunately this is taken into account, and minimum wage is much better than in America. Not sure where he's getting his info from, because minimum wage has risen steadily (though it might not this year).

    Just use your judgement with bar staff. If you've got the cash, I'm sure any would appreciate a tip! But don't worry too much, because unlike America it won't be a substantial part of their wages.
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  11. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (3,719) Sep 3, 2007 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Aberdeen is certainly not as...hip and exciting as Edinburgh. Though I have always enjoyed my handful of visits. City Center up and down Union St is a cool place. I have always been able to get around town in cabs, or walk most places. Just to give you an idea, my old companies staff house was on Kings Gate. I would take a cab from the airport, and could walk to the City center in about 15 minutes from the staff house.

    Anyway, on to the important stuff...

    Prince of Wales and the Grill are two of my favorite pubs anywhere. PoW has an excellent selection of Real Ale, the Grill has a few good Real Ales, and one of the best selections of whiskey anywhere.
    Old Blackfriars is a cool pub
    No 10 Tavern has a good selection. Even some Perry.
    Number 1 Bar Brasserie was probably my favorite restaurant, just down the block from No. 10. They will occasionally have a cask of Tim Taylor.

    Take the train to Inverness or Edinburgh for a day trip. Easy as can be, and specifically from Edinburgh there is plenty to do just off the tracks at Waverly Station.
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  12. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    What the hell? Aberdeen is in no way a dump. It is the second most beautiful city in Scotland after Edinburgh.
    jmw likes this.
  13. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    God, I hope WhataNice Pub isn't a Rangers fan. Liking soccer is bad enough but being a Rangers supporter takes it to whole new level.

    I've spent a fair amount of time in Aberdeen and have never found it depressing. For the weak willed maybe but in reality its quite a pretty place.

    Agree with you about the The Grill (on Union Street) and the other earlier mentioned Prince of Wales (just off Union Street) and the original BrewDog Bar (17 Gallowgate). All great places.

    As for attractions in the area I'd recommend Linn O'Dee for its beautiful scenery, a jaunt to the quaint little fishing village of Footdee (Fittie) and for castles, you gotta see a castle, the magical Craigivar Castle. As for breweries, BrewDog is the obvious choice and a trip just up to Ellon to their new brewery just might be the trick.

    Oh yeah, don't forget to have as many Rowies (you're not really an Aberdonian if you call them 'Butteries') as possible. They're sort of like a flat sort of salty croissant often toasted and served with breakfast. Delish.

    As for the folks here running down Aberdeen. Frankly, you're talking out of your arses. The OP enthused about a possible trip and all you folks did was fill the thread with typical British negativity. Trust me if you want slums go to Wolverhampton, Moss Side in Manchester or Stapleton Road in Bristol. You ain't gonna find that in Aberdeen. Nor will find any rampaging mass rioting and looting as you did in Brixton, Tottenham, Hackney in 2011.
    TheBeerAlmanac, seanyfo and champ103 like this.
  14. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (178) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Well, I certainly don’t follow third division footy. I have no opinion on Rangers as a club as they are still so new.
  15. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Savant (967) Mar 3, 2011 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for all the recommendations so far. The only pictures I've seen so far are of the castle where the wedding is going to be (Dunnottar) so I don't really have a clue of what Aberdeen is actually like, but I'm open to checking out Edinburgh or anything else in the vicinity. If the rest of Aberdeen, or even the adjacent areas, are as beautiful as the castle, I may spend a couple days just taking in the scenery, as Zimbo alluded to.

    Question: BrewDog shows its primary location in Aberdeenshire, but they have a location in Aberdeen as well. Is the one in Aberdeen just a pub while the actual brewery is in Aberdeenshire? Is it worth visiting the Aberdeenshire location or can I pretty much get anything they offer at either place? I'm wanting to bring some bottles back to the states to share, of BrewDog and anything else that might be worth it.
  16. ImperialStoat

    ImperialStoat Aspirant (246) May 20, 2009 Ireland
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, the Aberdeen location is a Brewdog pub, in fact it was the first Brewdog pub of about ten now in the UK. You'll be able to take away bottles of several newer British breweries that don't export, like Kernel, Magic Rock, Beavertown, etc. The bottle prices are usually fair.

    I don't know anything about the brewery itself.
  17. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    I envy you Almanac. Beautiful part of the country you're going to. Dunnottar will blow your mind, as would other castles and drives in the immediate area. Truly stunning. Do make a point of getting out and driving a bit if you can. Don't be nervous about the side-switch, it comes naturally after about a half an hour (although I would suggest renting an automatic rather than standard shift)

    I can't speak directly to what is available in Aberdeen proper so take others' suggestions there. If you are thinking about a day trip by rail, you might want to look toward Inverness instead of Edinburgh at that time of year. At the very least, make sure you look well into the Edinburgh Festival and know exactly what you would be getting into. It can be chaotic to say the least.

    As for tipping: if I recall correctly Darwin553 did some time as a barkeep in Scotland and understandably has always been a proponent of tipping for the trade in these forums, so take those comments with perspective. Tipping at the bar is not expected. Yes, it feels odd not to tip, but you will probably get a look from the bar if you were to drop a quid on the counter every time you bought a pint (you will order at the counter and pay as you go, so the actual waitstaff is removed from the equation if that makes it any easier to swallow). If you are in a pub for a round I would not worry about it at all. If you stay for several rounds of several drinks each, with your last round you might tell the barkeep to pour one on for him/herself. They will decline the drink but discreetly add a few pounds on to your sum and it will be appreciated. That has always worked for me at least. Perhaps even that is passe now.
  18. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (67) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    It's probably a London thing, outside the capital I can understand where the uneasiness comes from ;)
  19. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    London, I stand corrected.
  20. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Its quite a wonderful thing for the OP to arrive in a place without prejudice and preconceptions. That first sweet taste of experience.

    BrewDog first set up its brewery in Fraserburgh which is in the most north easterly coastal corner of Aberdeenshire. The Aberdeen BrewDog opened in October 2010 being their first bar. Last year they left Fraserburgh and set up a new larger brewery in Ellon which is a small town just about 15 miles north of Aberdeen. Hope that clarifies a few things.
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  21. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Poo-Bah (1,716) Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    In conclusion, don't drink Hardcore or Punk that says Fraserburgh on the label!
    TheBeerAlmanac and EmperorBevis like this.
  22. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Poo-Bah (3,176) Sep 25, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Hmmm? Fraserburgh?
    Isn't there another farts higher than it's own arse brewery in Fraserburgh?Surely there couldn't be a connection ;)
  23. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Savant (967) Mar 3, 2011 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    I'm checking out The Marine Hotel in Stonehaven and it seems awesome, not to mention they have a ton of beer we don't have access to in the states and they're even opening a new brewery which should be live by the time I get there. Anyone have any experience with this hotel? Granted it's 30 min south of Aberdeen. We're going to spend at least a day in Edinburgh as well, based on all the recommendations. I'm assuming it's possible to use the trains to get between all three cities? If not, we may just rent a car.
  24. Padraig

    Padraig Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2013 United Kingdom (England)
    Beer Trader

    Yes you will be able to get between Aberdeen, Stonehaven and Edinburgh on train.
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
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