Please sign in to post.

BEER!

What are the best beers in Scotland? Do you know the name of some great pubs in Edinburgh, Oban, Inverness? (Traditional, clean, friendly, not expensive)

Posted by
9110 posts

Go into a pub. Ask for a bitter. Drink it. Like it. The brands change every twenty-six point five miles. The national/wide-spread ones aren't usually as good.

Posted by
31465 posts

Barb, I'm not sure what the "best beers in Scotland" are, since I usually drink Guinness and it's usually available "on tap" everywhere. I suspect that Scotch is more popular than beer in Scotland, so I didn't really look into the local brews. Although they're probably considered a bit "touristy", some Pubs that I enjoyed in Edinburgh were Sandy Bell's (quite small but great folk music in the evenings) and also the famous Greyfriar's Bobby's Pub (usually quite "busy" - be sure to look for the statue of the wee Dog outside, which is where the name comes from). Cheers!

Posted by
571 posts

Barb, Take a look at the Edinburgh Literary Walking Tour. If you have even a slight interest in the literature of Scotland, the "discussion" (really it's scripted) between the two tour guides is fun to listen to, and they take you on a walking tour of the city, stopping at several excellent pubs. Each publican knows the tour is coming and is ready to serve. I just walked up to the bar, asked what was good, and never was served a bad beer. And at the end of the tour, at the last bar, instead of a tip I offered to buy a round for the guides. They suggested some fine whisky and we had a fun hour just talking and drinking.
A highlight of my trip.

Posted by
2349 posts

Ed, when I was in Scotland, mostly around Ayr, in 1987, I decided I would order a pint of "Special." Loved it. Any idea what I was drinking? I have an idea that it was a bitter, but not sure if it was a brand or just the local brew.

Posted by
4684 posts

"Special" ale is a category made by loads of different breweries, usually a bit higher in alcohol and stronger-flavoured than the basic. "Special" lager, on the other hand, is a euphemism for "cheap strong crap for desperate alcoholics".

Posted by
3681 posts

Here is a list from a travel agency outlining some of the prominent beer brands in Scotland: http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/travel-tips/beer-guide-to-scotland/ However, worldwide interlocking ownership of breweries is spreading at a rapid clip and has swept into Scotland, so Carlsberg and Budweiser beer taps will be sighted frequently enough to induce boredom equal to an ersatz hangover. Tennents, the most popular lager, used to be owned by Belgium's InBev, world's largest brewer (including Bud), but now is part of a big cider producer. Yawn. I take beer-drinking personally. I travel thirsty and seek out the local, hand-crafted microbrews, especially on draught. One place to start is with enthusiast blogs and websites; here is a sample http://www.scottishbeerguide.com
Other guides, none tested by me, can be found with simple Internet searches. One I have consulted in various areas is BeerMe. Its search function insists on locating everything on a map of Africa but the user submissions can be reasonably up-to-date. Here is the link for Scotland http://beerme.com/region.php?290

Posted by
340 posts

While in Edinburgh last fall my husband and I enjoyed "Old Spotted Hen" at The World's End Pub, right on the Royal Mile at 4 High Street. The prices are reasonable and the food very good.

Posted by
9110 posts

Karen, not even a wild guess. Mary, probably 'speckled', not 'spotted'.

Posted by
3428 posts

In Aviemore there is a microbrewery that gives tours and samples- The Caringorm Brewery Company. If you can, try Caringorm Gold, or Blessed Thistle. Thoses were hubby's favs of their 5 or 6 different brews. I bet they are available between Aviemore and Inverness.

Posted by
5669 posts

I like McEwans. Sometimes it will say, 80 Shilling, which is a stronger brew, beware! ; ) There are other great beers and ales though in Scotland. There is the Orcadian beer, Skullsplitter. I also like Belhaven Best. I would recommend just trying what's on tap. Look for pubs that offer Cask Ales. I like to combine music with my beer and so in Edinburgh go to Sandy's Bells and in Inverness I like Hootenanny. Pam

Posted by
340 posts

Ed your right, Old Speckled Hen - should never try to post when tired! Also, looking over my "discovered notes", Caledonian 80 at the Toll Booth Pub was pretty good too.

Posted by
484 posts

Hey Everyone! Thanks for your response! I truly appreciate traveling beer drinkers. Unpretentious, helpful, and great camaraderie. I will be drinking a fine brew toast to all of you come June!

Posted by
5842 posts

Belhaven is one of the great traditional Scottish breweries, also look for anything on tap or bottle from BrewDog. They are a pretty inventive Microbrew from Fraserburgh in the north, some pretty unique brews and always pushing the limits of brewing and taste.

Posted by
63 posts

Hi Barb, if you are really dedicated to quality BEER then the place to look is the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Good Beer Guide which can be found here: http://www.camra.org.uk/gbg BUT it may be more useful to install their excellent app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. Then all you need to do is start it up and it will give you directions to the nearest quality ale pub! It's one of my favourite apps and will cost you about $7. For example using it to search for Edinburgh the first pub that comes up is the "Bow Bar" which happens to be a local CAMRA pub of the year and the description is as follows: "One of the first re-creations of a classic Scottish one-roomed ale house, dedicated to traditional Scottish air pressure dispense and perpendicular drinking. The five guest beers can be from anywhere in the UK. The walls are festooned with original brewery mirrors and the superb gantry does justice to an award winning ion of about 200 single malt whiskies. Bar snacks available at lunchtime (not Sun). Dogs are welcome and free WiFi is available." (By the way "air pressure dispense and perpendicular drinking" refer to the way the beer is served - in this case direct from the barrel not from the cellar via a hand pump) Cheers
Steve.

Posted by
1832 posts

"What are the best beers in Scotland" All of them served by the pint, not tinnies.

Posted by
1014 posts

I was going to suggest Belhaven Ale, but someone above beat me to it. Belhaven Beer is brewed in Belhaven, Scotland and is pretty good. I am from Belhaven, NC so I am not TOO Biased. You are probably not going to be able to find it, but if you like reallllly dark beer, try Brains Beer, from Cardiff. Almost any beer in Scotland that is pulled, is pretty good. The ciders are great too. We liked Strongbow and one other, but I cannot remember the name at the moment.

Posted by
1068 posts

Caledonian 80/- is my favorite beer EVER. Clean, refreshing, crisp, but deep in flavor, with hints of iced tea and chocolate on the finish. HEAVEN. And yes - drink local - drink pints - and savor the yumminess of it all!

Posted by
484 posts

Does anyone know about Innis & Gunn beer? It's supposed to be a beer for whiskey drinkers? How about Heather Ale? It seems Caley 80 is a popular and excellent choice from reading all of your comments. Belhaven seems quite respected as well.

Posted by
5842 posts

Innis and Gunn is an Oak Aged Ale, similar but the reverse of a trend here in the US. Here many breweries get used bourbon or even wine barrels and age the beer in cask to get some of the flavor, for Innis and Gunn, they age the beer in fresh barrels or sometimes rum barrels, that are then used to age whiskey. It is available in a number of Pubs in Edinburgh and elsewhere as well as bottles. Heather ale is more generic, it is merely ale that is flavored with heather. Several breweries make it, the best known though is Williams Brothers who makes Fraoch Heather Ale.