#EBBC13 – The 3rd European Beer Bloggers conference, and the first one that I’ve attended. From the first in London (which I missed despite living down the road) and the second in Leeds (which I found out about a week before it happened) they’ve now moved up to Edinburgh, where I am now currently sitting in an overly warm basement hotel room with a tram track being built outside. They started at 5:30am.
The EBBC does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a conference for Beer Bloggers and is held in Europe. To start things off we had a pub crawl around some of the more beer focused bars of the Old Town, put together by Chris from the Edinburgh Craft Brew Co and Rich from The Beercast – both locals who know a decent pint. Or smaller measure where appropriate.
We started, as all good pub crawls should, at the Bow Bar. A fixture of Edinburgh’s beer scene for many years, it’s the first place in the city that I had a decent pint. Since my first visit they’ve continued to add more interesting beers to their list, with more trad-bitters sat alongside hop beast IPAs and craft brewing experiments from around the country. Add to that a very well-stocked whisky list (100+ by my reckoning) with decent prices and you’ve got a winner. They even have free wifi for those afflicted by the phone signal issues that Edinburgh’s maze of hills and streets is famous for.
For those interested in such things, their taps are rather special. A bit temperamental, like they were last night thanks to the current heatwave, they are all pressurised air driven ‘twisty taps’ (if you know what they’re really called, please let me know – Edit: they are Aitken Tall Fonts, more info on that link) rather than handpulls. No CO2, no extra fizziness, less flattening of the beer as the cask empties, and rare enough to make the Bow Bar one of the last pubs to use them in the UK. A similar style of tap has popped up as being popular in the new wave of cask beer loving pubs, like the Euston and York Tap, but I suspect they use something other than air to push the beer along.
Next was Holyrood 9A, one of my favourite pubs in Edinburgh. When I used to organise a trip up to the Edinburgh Festival each year I’d rent a flat just round the corner from the Holyrood. Having lamented the lack of decent beer anywhere near the flat on my first trip up I was rather pleased to be smacked round the head by one of my travelling companions and pointed in its direction on our next trip.
They have a long row of taps, with three (I think) cask lines complimented by a stack of kegs, running from local brews (Williams Bros Joker IPA seems to be a standard) to those more further afield (I started my beer consumption of the weekend with a half of Lagunitas IPA from California. They also do excellent burgers, which I underestimate in size every time I order, especially good if you like mayo mixed with wholegrain mustard. Which I do.
We then wandered back towards the Bow Bar for a stop in at BrewDog Edinburgh, the second of the company’s bars and the place where I’ve spent most of my drinking time in the city over the last couple of years. It’s decked out in standard BrewDog bar fashion (They must have bought up a whole school gym’s-worth of wooden floor to clad the walls of their bars – like in the others you can see sections of pitch marking on the boards) and they have the usual half/half split of their own beers and guests from around the world.
This weekend combines a few different beer related things in Edinburgh, with EBBC sitting alongside the EIBF – Edinburgh International Beer Festival. While that has brought in a bunch of interesting beers from abroad, it’s also brought in a few from south of the border, and BrewDog Edinburgh had stocked up on Brodie’s beers. From East London. Down the road from me. I stayed away from them at this stage of the evening and went instead for an Electric India, the shareholder brewed saison, with heather honey, orange peel, black peppercorns and lots of Nelson Sauvin and Amarillo hops. It was selected in honour of famed saison ‘lover’ Jason B Standing of, Whisky Squad fame. He would have hated it.
Due to us crawling, inevitably, slower than anticipated, we were behind time and while an advance party was sent on to Bow Bar sister pub Cloisters, the main group wandered on to The Hanging Bat, one of the newest bars on the scene. They opened in November and was given strict orders by the locals to visit it next time I was in town. It’s an excellent bar, cleanly designed and with a large beer selection – 6 casks and 14 kegs that what pretty much all in action while we were there. They also have sinks made of kegs with beer taps dispensing water, which has remained nifty even though I am now sober.
Brodie’s were very much in evidence again, with 7 of the kegs dedicated to their beers, but I started off on something even closer to my home – Weird Beard‘s Fade to Black. It’s a black IPA (which I am on the record as liking, at least in concept) made in a garage in Hanwell, a short distance from my flat. Annoyingly I’ve not managed to try any of their beer in London, having always turned up shortly after it’s run out, but having travelled the length of England I thought it’d be nice to have a try. It was, with a strangely piney note.
I followed it up with a recommendation – Brodie’s Barrel Aged Blueberry Sour. I tried their original London Sour back home a while back and it was the worst beer I’ve ever tasted, although I think that’s due to it having turned during the afternoon – earlier reports on Untappd hailed it as one of the brewery’s finest creations. Here are my tasting notes:
Nose of citrus scented toilet blocks (used), crusted urinal and spoiled chicken. Hints of pork. Salty front palate, lemon floor cleaner and grain. Uric aftertaste, lingering calcium deposits.
I was not a fan. The purchaser of the pint got me a pint of Brodie’s Citra in penance. It was nice.
The Blueberry Sour, however, was a revelation. It had the saltiness that I found in the dodgy pint, but without the evil. I suspect that I’ll need to pop back before I leave to have another go, if it lasts long enough…
Pub crawl complete, the next two days are full of talks and tastings. Sensibly, today they start after midday.