The BeerCast’s Pub Guide – Edinburgh Part 3

Posted by on Mar 6, 2012 in Edinburgh Beer, Pubs, Scottish Beer | 2 Comments

Following on from our two previous guides to Edinburgh pubs – here and here, we felt it was long overdue to post a third. There really are so many great places to drink in the city, that another selection was definitely required. If you’re in town for a short break, you need to be visiting a few of these pubs for refreshment…

Some young-looking cats in this photo

Cloisters 26 Brougham St Map
Open: 12pm-12am (1am Fri-Sat); 12.30pm-12am (Sun)
Link: Beer in the Evening
Twitter Feed: @Cloisters_Bar
Cloisters Bar doesn’t look like your average pub, being shoehorned into an old church at Tollcross. Located near the Meadows, it is one of Edinburgh’s best real ale pubs. With four regular cask beers and five guest (which are rotated pretty much constantly), there’s always something interesting on. Their keg range has recently become just as interesting – Guinness was booted off to be replaced by Black Isle Porter, for example. If rare beers are your thing, locals Stewart Brewing do a beer just for Cloisters, called Holy Grale.

The Stockbridge Tap 2 Raeburn Place Map
Open: 12pm-12am (1am Fri-Sat); 12.30pm-12am (Sun)
Link: Beer in the Evening
Twitter Feed: @StockbridgeTap
The sister bar of Cloisters and the Bow Bar, the Stockbridge Tap is a freehouse in the affluent northern suburb of the same name, well worth a visit after a stroll along the Water of Leith footpath (which at the time of writing is closed, so more time in the pub). It used to be Bert’s Bar, and when I lived nearby was pretty much my local. If you like people watching, sit on one of the window seats and watch the Stockbridgers go about their business. Has a great range of whisky, too – and keep an eye out for brewery events, the Magic Rock takeover has already become Edinburgh legend.

The Caley Sample Room 42-58 Angle Park Terrace Map
Open: 12pm-12am (1am Fri-Sat); 12.30pm-12am (Sun)
Link: Official Website
Twitter Feed: @TheCaley
Owned by the same people as the Cambridge Bar, the Caley Sample Room may be located a brisk stroll from the city centre, but it’s well worth it. From the outside not much is given away, but the refurbished interior and range of beers are fantastic – two permanent taps for Black Isle and Tempest Brewing, plus four guests (as well as two for the Caledonian). The food is outstanding, having come second in the pub food category at the 2010 Scottish Restaurant Awards. There’s a regular supper club for people eating during the week, and live music. Having recently expanded their bottled beer lineup, the drinking choices are superb.

The Cask & Barrel (Southside) 26 West Preston St Map
Open: 12pm-12am (1am Fri-Sat); 12.00pm-12am (Sun)
Link: Facebook page
Twitter Feed: @CaskandBarrelSS
Open for the best part of a year, what had previously been the student-friendly Junction Bar in Newington is now the Cask & Barrel (Southside). Having the same imposing looped bar as the original C&B (see our first Edinburgh Pub Guide), it looks similar both inside and out. Plenty of room to stand if it gets busy, there are barrels and shelves aplenty to lean on until a table becomes free. As with it’s precursor, has a good selection of eight changing real ales, with plenty of Scottish beers amongst them. They also booted Strongbow out for real cider, if apples are your thing.

The Holyrood 9A 9A Holyrood Road Map
Open: 10am-12am (1am Fri-Sat)
Link: Facebook page
Twitter Feed: @Holyrood9A
Twenty beers. Handmade burgers. What’s not to like? Fuller Thomson have since opened a few more bars along the same lines – such as Lothian Road’s Red Squirrel – but Holyrood 9A has a bigger area at the bar, and seems to fit the space slightly better. And what a bar it is, too – until BrewDog opened it had the best keg lineup in the city. Even now they source some fantastic rare beer – a recent visit found Magic Rock’s session golden ale Curious next to Harviestoun’s barrel aged monster Ola Dubh. It gets busy here on Friday nights, but elbow your way in and make a stand.

Thomson’s Bar 182-184 Morrison St Map
Open: 12pm-12am (1am Fri-Sat); 12.00pm-12am (Sun)
Link: Beer in the Evening
Twitter Feed: @ThomsonsBar
Thomson’s is a classic one-room drinking house, sitting halfway along Morrison Street near the Conference Centre. Frequented by an older crowd during the day, and then office workers later on, the beer is always in great condition. Usually at least a couple of guest blonde ales are on in summer, alongside a Fyne Ales beer and one from Harviestoun (usually Bitter & Twisted). The old brewery mirrors and memorabilia on the walls give it a similar feel to the mighty Bow Bar. Can get busy, but feel free to spill out onto the pavement and watch the commuters bustle down to Haymarket station.

The Abbotsford 3-5 Rose St Map
Open: 11am-11pm (11:30pm Fri-Sat)
Link: Official Website
Twitter Feed: No
The Abbotsford sits between Hanover Street and St Andrew Square, and is head and shoulders above the other Rose Street boozers. The historic island bar dates from 1902, and was carved from Spanish mahogany. The sister bar to the Guildford Arms, there are usually some interesting beers on, as a result – served from five traditional tall founts. If the traffic lights work in your favour, you can walk between the two in a handful of minutes, making an easy east-end crawl. Also a great place for a Princes Street pitstop, the Abbotsford has a restaurant above, called…Above.

BrewDog Edinburgh 143 Cowgate Map
Open: 12pm-1am; 12:30pm-1am (Sun); opens 4pm Mon
Link: Website
Twitter Feed: @BrewDogEdin
Converting an abandoned karaoke bar (Chasers) into a ultra-cool urban hangout is very much the BrewDog way of thinking. Slap bang in the middle of the Cowgate (aka Rankin’s ‘Little Saigon’) – what was the second of their bars still comes up with the goods. If your definition of ‘goods’ is extremely hoppy, kegged, imported beer served to a background of eclectic music, that is. Several of BrewDog’s own beers are on as well, but the highlights are the guest beers from around the globe, they can be really something. If the choices are just too baffling, listen to the recommendations of the staff – the friendliest and most helpful in the city.

Other Edinburgh pubs…

The BeerCast’s Pub Guide to Edinburgh, Part 1
The Baillie
The Blue Blazer
The Bow Bar
Cask and Barrel
The Cumberland
Kays Bar

The BeerCast’s Pub Guide to Edinburgh, Part 2
The Halfway House
Bert’s Bar
The Cambridge
Guildford Arms
Bennet’s Bar
The Malt&Hops

The Dalriada


  1. Owen
    March 7, 2012

    A great list, though I’m not sold on Thomsons. Beer quality has gone downhill (or maybe I’m unlucky) and we often skip it because even with 8 taps pouring Deuchars is the darkest beer they ever serve.

    Fine by me, but if there’s even one dark beer fan in your group they’ll be asking to move on in short order.

  2. Richard
    March 8, 2012

    We included Thomson’s because of the layout, and the traditional feel of drinking in a one-room, stand-up drinking shop. It’s true, they do favour the lighter coloured ales – much like Staggs/Volunteer Arms at Musselburgh. I guess both work better in the summer, although neither have a beer garden (standing on Morrison Street watching the traffic is about as good as it gets!). It’s a pity you’ve had poor pints in there, I admit I’ve not been there for a few months…

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