There are few countries on Earth that do the ‘lots of earnest men in a musty hall’ type days out better than the Brits. Like it or not (and CAMRA probably don’t), beer has that reputation – or rather, ‘real ale’ has that reputation. The hip, funky, savvy kids of today drink Becks or Budweiser. But then they’re prententious pillocks, aren’t they? As Shovels put it, there was an impressive selection of wild haircuts and straggly beards at the Scottish Beer Festival, held at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. We had a duty to attend, being the BeerCast’s home city, so rustled up the full complement of panellists (minus Hopmesiter who was playing with iguanas in Ecuador), and went along, with our own wild haircuts aplenty.
Paying our £4 and picking up a logo’d pint glass, we eagerly went up the red-carpeted stairs to the main hall of the Assembly Rooms. Inside, it was amazing. Hundreds of people, dozens of kegs, and two huge bars. So in the name of research we carted our increasingly dirty pint glasses around trying as many of the (rumoured) 120 beers as possible. As an IPA fan, I started off with Fyne’s Piper’s Gold, which wasn’t as much floral as like drinking an entire flowerbed. Next up, I made the rookie mistake of ‘just picking something because of the name’, and got Sulwath’s Solway Mist. This turned out to be a wheat beer that tasted like lemonade mixed with antiseptic. Still, I learned an important lesson early on.
After that, things got far better. Broughton’s Clipper IPA, Houston’s Killelan, and Sulwath’s Criffel IPA are all corkingly good pale ales, and beers I’ll certainly be finding again. Scotland’s IPA’s really do rival some of the best from other countries – a point the BeerCast will probably return to, I would think. Anyway, there’s more to ale than the lighter stuff, so I finished off with a dark mystery, Strathaven’s Old Mortality. It was a sweet, spicy, malty beer that changed flavour with every mouthful. Or maybe that was just the dregs of all the other previous ones combining in the pint glass. Either way, even though (most of us) didn’t have the crazy facial hair, we found a lot to like at the Festival.