When you think of Scottish beer, the first names that come to mind are probably Tennents and BrewDog. Tennents may be ‘Scotland’s Favourite Pint‘ (according to Tennents), but there are many other beers on the scene. Increasing demand for craft beer has led to a surge in Scottish breweries entering the market. So, while you’re in Scotland, look out for beers made by our favourite Scottish breweries.
Fyne Ales was founded in 2001 in Loch Fyne, Argyll. The brewery won their first award the SIBA Scotland competition in 2003, for their traditional beers. After co-founder Jonny Delap tragically passed away, his son took over as Managing Director and began expanding the firm. Today, Fyne Ales has several awards under its belt and continues to grow in popularity. True beer nerds will make their year to the annual FyneFest (June 1-3 in 2018) to sample their beers and dance to live music.
Their flagship beer, Highlander, is a bittersweet traditional amber ale. However, the hoppy and citric Jarl is by far their most popular brew, and remains the reigning Champion Beer of Scotland. If you want to try some more experimental brews, look for their Sanda Black IPA or their Jammin’ double-berry sour.
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As the winner of the 2017 Scottish Beer Awards, Tempest Brew Co have established themselves as a top brewery. The founder, Gavin, learned to brew in New Zealand and has continued to use Kiwi hops in his brews back in Scotland. You can tell he was a former chef, as many of his beers are inspired by food, like the Marmalade on Rye DIPA and the Mexicake. While killing the name game – Drop Kick Me Jesus and Attack of The Killer Crab are some personal favourites – Tempest beer can speak for itself. If you’re only going to try one, it’s Long White Cloud – a beautiful hybrid of Scottish malts and Kiwi hops.
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Fierce Beer are pretty much exactly what the name suggests. Formerly corporate bastards of the Oil and Gas industry, Grant and McHardy ditched the suits to brew some seriously weird beer. With a passion for gastronomy and an affinity for animals wearing clothes, Fierce Beer was born. They divide their beers into four mundane-sounding categories: hoppy, fruity, dark and seasonal – but the selection is anything but. Sweet-tooths should try their Cranachan Killer, which is essentially the Scottish dessert in a can. For a kick of Habanero and ginger, try the Ginja Ninja…. And if you can take the heat, the Dirty Sanchez gives you a hard hit of chilli.
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Cromarty was founded after Craig Middleton completed his degree in Brewing & Distillery at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Today, Cromarty is run by Craig and his parents – however, the original Cromarty brewery operated from 1790 to the 1850s. In spite of its traditional roots, the Cromarty we know today is quite a modern brewery. One of our top Cromarty picks is the Whiteout, a hazy white IPA made with wheat malts, best served with a slice of orange. Cromarty also combined soda and beer to create a vanilla milk sour called Udder Madness. Judging by the taste, you won’t believe it’s actually beer; but to be fair, at 1.6% ABV, it hardly is.
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Barney’s Beer is one of Edinburgh’s very own local breweries. Although the core range is great, some of Barney’s best work are their limited edition ‘remixes’ of their core beers. The Red Rye got a Hanging Bat twist to create a Red Rye Sour. Meanwhile, the flagship Volcano IPA was reimagined with Japanese hops, creating the spicy lemongrass-flavoured Sorachi Ace IPA. The microbrewery operates in Summerhall, a former Veterinary School turned into a microbrewery, distillery, and cultural arts hub. With the microbrewery on site, it’d be foolish not to try Barney’s straight from the source at Summerhall’s Royal Dick bar. If you want to learn more, you can arrange a private tour of the brewery here.
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BONUS: Scotland’s first rum distillery
Scotland has a seemingly endless supply of whisky and gin distilleries, but have you ever tried Scottish rum? Dark Matter was the first rum distillery in Scotland, which launched as late as 2015. The distillery’s name refers to the scientific term ‘dark matter’, which is hypothetical and has never actually been observed. Hence, Dark Matter is driven by science and curiosity, crafting rum through molecular engineering and fluid dynamics. The rum itself tastes like liquid gingerbread, or some may say, Christmas in a cup. You don’t have to be a rum drinker to enjoy drinking it neat, either.