Blog of an aspiring foodie

Scotland beer blog

Posted by beer_chris on 20-March-2006

Tuesday, 14/03
Caledonian 80/- at the Soul bar across Union Street (the main drag in Aberdeen City Centre) from the office in a converted church. Totally a classic Scottish ale. Although I had it in other pubs served on cask (traditional 'real ale' style), it was good here as well – and not just because it was my first pint in Scotland. Deep copper colored, almost red, with a low head and low carbonation – like a good British ale should be. Malty, but not too sweet, and strong without being too dry, like a good 80 shilling ale should be. An all-around fantastic brew – like a good beer should be. My first beer since I was last in London where I could truly taste freshness. The flavor is nearly impossible for me to describe, but is the essence of British-style ales and thus is impossible to get here in the states (shipping ruins this flavor, with very few exceptions)

Wednesday, 15/03
Old Speckled Hen (at Prince of Wales before dinner). What a great pub, and a great beer that I've had many times in the states and never really liked. Like other English beers, the bottle version of these 'real ales' available in the US just can't match what you can get on cask in the UK. OSH here is a too-sweet, too-strong stale tasting problem beer. On cask in Aberdeen, it was heaven – with hop aroma paramount on top of the strong malty palate and finish. Yum yum!
Prince of Wales Ale (after dinner – at, of course, the Prince of Wales)
Wow. Brewed especially for the Prince of Wales pub, this beer was strong (at around 4.5% ABV), hoppy and full of flavor. Tasted like a a slightly less edgy version of the Saint Arnold Elissa IPA – flavors were rounded together better. Dangerously drinkable.

Thursday, 16/03
At the Prince of Wales (again):
Prince of Wales Ale
A splash of Dark Island
Real ale which I orginally mistook for a stout, but the website describes it as a traditional Scottish Ale, which explains why there was so little roasted malt bitterness and thickness like I would have expected from something this dark (generally black patent or chocolate malt is used in large amounts in stouts, which creates the coffee flavors). This beer tasted a lot more like the Schwarzbier JD and I brewed a few months ago – dark, rich, but without any roasted malt bitterness at all. Lindsey really liked this one. And, to make it even cooler, the brewery is in Orkney (islands north of Aberdeenshire)
Timothy Taylor Landlord
What I would call a traditional English bitter – golden straw colored, with a malty profile and strong hop balance. Good beer, but not all that memorable. A good session beer, and probably fantastic with some pub grub.
A splash of a real ale Pilsner (I do not remember the brewery or name) not bad, tasted like Saint Arnold Summer Pils
We switched pubs at this point, but I do not remember the name of the place we went next. I do, with one exception, remember the beers I drank 😉
Caledonian Euchars IPA
Not what I would consider an IPA, but then again, I'm American. Our IPAs are much bigger then a traditional IPA, and this lines up well in the historical style – more of a session beer. However, I have a hard time distinguishing this from a standard English bitter, other then the malt flavors are slightly less distinct and hop flavors, although not strong by any means are stronger then the malt profile.
Had another Caledonian 80/- (YUM!!)
Had a third I can't quite remember – it started with a 'B'.
Had a dram of 10 yr (sherry) single malt (Macallan). Maybe it was the beer, but this rather pedestrian whisky was among the most memorable I've ever tasted. Dry and smooth, like a good highland should be, but with all kinds of berry flavors underneath.

Friday, 17/03 (St. Patrick's Day)
Yikes. Many many many pints. At least 6 Guinness and a host of others. Tennents, MGD, Corona, one pint of real ale. Some thoughts follow:

  • Guinness goes down E-A-S-Y. It's not as memorably good as I remember it from London. but after drinking all that heavily flavored 5%+ real ale all week, the familiar (and lower ABV) Guinness just dropped down like Bud Light.
  • One of the big things over there is the 'Extra Cold' taps. Guinness is served this way, along with Carlsberg (a Euro light lager) and others. I never had any, but in most bars you had to order your Guinness 'regular' or 'extra cold'. Definitely a little strange.
  • MGD is really popular (and pretty expensive), and it tasted way better then it does here.
  • Had a Euchars IPA in this really cool pub called 'Under the Hammer' that was really really hot inside. It was downstairs from street level in the basement of a building, and couldn't have been much larger inside then my office (the bar was probably the size of my desk, literally) – and it had, probably, 50 people inside. We stood the whole time and when we left I was dripping with sweat.

Saturday, 18/03
At the Prince of Wales after dinner, had Old Engine Oil
Holy Schneikes what a thick beer. This was like a winter warmer mixed with some type of tar. The only thing that approaches it in terms of flavor is an Imperial Stout. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it was thick, almost syrupy, with strong hop aromas in the head and little residual hop bitterness in the actual flavor profile. Totally dominated by burnt malt flavors – underlying hints of burnt coffee flavors, in fact – that sweet bitterness of burning beans you can smell coming off of the Kraft coffee plant downtown.

Sunday, 19/03
At the back bar in the Old Blackfriars pub in central Aberdeen
Something like Aldumarl, but clearly I am spelling it wrong because I can't find anything about it online
Belhaven Best
This was not real ale. It sure was good though, nice in between English Bitter/Scotch ale. Better then the Belhaven we get in the States.
Pint of a third real ale I didnt see (waitstaff was Russian or something, I just pointed and couldnt understand what she said back to me)
Good. A lot like Landlord but stronger. The name started with a 'B' or something, and I had more of it later in the week at Ma Camerons.
Back at the hotel had a dram of Highland Park 12 yr old single malt after dinner (while typing the original of this posting – and I in error identified this as Glenhaven at the time)

Monday, 20/03
Out with Bruce at the back bar at Ma Cameron's (most true pubs have a back bar – really and truly), had a number of different beers, including more Caledonian 80/-, something that started with a 'B' (again), and a few of a third a can't remember.

Tuesday, 21/03
Shockingly, didn't drink on Tuesday. Had to pack.

Wednesday, 22/03
Had a Caledonian 80/- at the airport in Aberdeen before I left. It was real ale. Fitting – my first and last beer in Scotland. Although my objective was to get into London that evening and have a Fullers London Pride off the cask, we simply couldn't swing it. I sat at the hotel bar and drank Boddingtons with a scowl on my face that deepened with every sip. Boddingtons here and there is no different – same old light boring beer. Had a dram of 16 yr old Lagavulin – WHEW – just as earthy as I remember it. After dinner had a nightcap whisky I can't remember now.

Thursday, 23/03
Well, hit the plane at 10:00 so not a lot of drinking ahead of that. However, I did have a few London Prides (out of a can, of course) on the flight, so I was able to cap my trip with the beer I wanted – just not quite in the situation I would have liked to drink it. The BA flight crew seemed quite pleased an American was asking for London Pride.

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