Quick Tastings – Edinburgh Festival Roundup

As ever I have been lax in posting up random bits of booze that I’ve been trying – the last few months have been quite overwhelming with new boozes thanks to my new job, but every now and again I do sit down and try some booze for non-work reasons. A good recent excuse for some non-work drinks was my first holiday since starting – a week in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. Fate smiled on the flat that I’ve been hiring for the last few years and not only was the nearest pub refurbished as a gastro-pub and fine booze establishment but BrewDog Edinburgh is a mere 10 minutes walk away. So, despite being in the land of whisky I spent the week drinking tasty beer:

BrewDog Alice Porter: I’ve got some bottles of this but the Holyrood 9A had it on tap – it was a draft stout with a nice balance of chocolate and bitterness.

Black Isle Porter – bought in response to my instruction of ‘get me something that isn’t Alice Porter’ – quite Guinnessy, but with a bit less coldness, more sweetness and less bitterness.

BrewDog Imperial Wheat – my first beer at BrewDog Edinburgh and the start of the night where I drank my way through the entire guest menu. I hurt the next day. This was a solid strong wheat beer, tasty but not massively interesting.

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard – this is where my memory started failing me on that first night, but I vaguely remember something a bit hoppy and fruity, with the regular fruit leaf flavours that I get from oak aged beer.

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale – no clue. I only know what I drank that night thanks to making notes in my iPhone for later uploading to Untappd

Mikeller It’s Alight – quite a dry and pond watery beer. Reminded me of King & Barnes Sussex in ye olden dayes, which is actually a compliment. It may have tasted like swamp water, but it was my local swamp water.

Mikeller Big Worse – this was the beer that finished me off. I have vague memories of big hops, fruit and a craving for a kebab…

Orkney Northern Light – found at The Bow Bar, a pub famous for its whisky and next door to where my mate Will was doing his show. A rather tasty golden ale that I’ve been looking forward to having again after drinking a lot of it last time I was in Scotland.

West St Mungo – Back to the Holyrood 9A for a pint with Will after his show, which was a special occasion as Will has given up drinking beer in recent times. He broke his self-imposed ban to have a brace of BrewDogs and I started off with the St Mungo, which has been much recommended to me by Mr Standing. I didn’t particularly like it – an overly malty lager that felt a bit cloying.

BrewDog Trashy Blonde – probably my favourite BrewDog beer and the one that they reckon tastes better on cask than keg. They’re right – all the taste of the bottled and kegged version, but with the lighter fluffier texture you get from natural carbonation.

Mikeller Exotic Punch – a strange thing for Mikeller: a straight forward and quite nice beer with no scariness or insanity to it. Nicely balanced hops and malt with a bit of citrus. Tasty.

BrewDog Hello My Name is Ingrid – another that I’ve had in bottles and one that I hoped they’d make again. It was good in bottle, even better on tap – big and fruity, with sour cloudberry (which they add to the conditioning tank) coming through along with the hops. I may have gone back for another taste of this one…

De Molen Op & Top – my least favourite of the beers I tried at BrewDog, dry and not particularly interesting.

1000 IBUiStout
The barman asked me if I was sure. I was. And drunk.

Mikeller 1000 IBU – I may have been drunk when I ordered this beer. Despite the International Bitterness Unit scale breaking down much above 100 this is still billed as being 1000 IBUs and it tasted like it. Massively hoppy, but purely with citrusy hop oil flavours rather than the mulchy hop that you get from other super hoppy beers. I shared the beer with Mr Standing and I’m pleased I did – it was starting to hurt by the end of the bottle.

8 Wired iStout – bought as an accompaniment to the 1000 IBU and at first I was worried that the residual destruction of that beer would mask this one’s flavour. I needn’t have worried – this was a massive stout with a perfect balance of coffee and chocolate flavours. I need to try some at a time when I hadn’t just worked my way through the guest beer menu. Again…

Stewart Edinburgh Number 3 – my first beer this trip from local brewer Stewart and it was a stout, the perfect breakfast as I sat down to watch some friends of my step-brother run through their show. I loved it but the lunchtime Fringe crowd are a conservative bunch and didn’t quite appreciate the combination of surreality and self analysis that is Brice/Stephenson. I also enjoyed the beer – a tasty stout with a nice creamy mouthfeel.

Stewart Pentland IPA – once I started on the Stewart beers I tried to keep on them, and the Canons’ Gait (nearest venue to where we were staying and centre of PBH’s Free Fringe) has a solid range as well as 10 gins. The Pentland IPA was a standard British IPA, by which I mean pleasantly hoppy but not on the scale of the current craze for hop monsters. Tasty and a nice reminder that you don’t need to remove the back of your head with hops to enjoy a beer.

Williams Seven Giraffes – lots of the venues had decent beer, which is surprise after my experience of London shows, and The Queen’s Hall, where we went to see Henry Rollins, was no exception. They had a range of Williams beers, including their blonde ale on tap, and the Seven Giraffes was great – a nice hoppy ale. Perfect accompaniment to listening to a hyperactive 50 year old man with a constant lust for new experiences.

La Concepta
Simon Munnery waiting for the table of four to arrive at his food free restaurant

Deuchars IPA – it wouldn’t be a complete trip to Edinburgh without a pint of Deuchars – despite its singling out by the BrewDog boys as an example of the boring ales that they are trying to destroy I rather like it. Similar to the Pentland: foamy, dry, fruity and quite nice. I had it at The Whiski Rooms while wandering between gigs (a show on the beach at Portobello for four of us ‘eating’ at Simon Munnery’s restaurant, La Concepta, and then some magic with time travelling Victorians Morgan and West), along with one of my only whiskies that I had on the trip (the only one outside of the SMWS rooms).

Connoisseurs Choice Lochside 1991, bottled 2010 – a rather Clynelish-like nose of candle wax and salted caramel, apples and vanilla; a palate of vanilla, cream, red fruit and woody cinnamon; and an interesting finish of pine, menthol and sugar syrup. I looked in the shop half of The Whiski Rooms but they didn’t have any…luckily we do have some at work and I’ll be grabbing a bottle soon (and writing a description for the website).

KoppiMikeller Texas Barrel Ranger – a barrel aged version of the Texas Ranger and annoyingly one that I have no memory of.

Mikeller Koppi IPA – I tried this twice, once on tap and once from bottle. The beer is a single hop coffee IPA with a variety of different hops and coffees and the next day when I asked they couldn’t remember which combination the one on tap had been, although they thought it was probably the same as the one I had in bottle – Tomahawk hops and Odoo Shakiso coffee. The bottle one was rather nice, balancing coffee bitterness and hoppy bitterness, but the tap one was excellent – lots of chocolate flavours from the coffee and a beautiful sour berry hop that worked perfectly. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of this.

And that was that for boozes. I also went to see some shows, including a couple of booze related ones, although not as many as the number of different beers I drank. Edinburgh is excellent for interesting beer.

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