Exciting times for Edinburgh beer drinkers this week as we see the opening of the Southern, the new bar from Fuller Thomson, owners of BeerCast favourites Holyrood 9A and Red Squirrel. Head BeerCaster and all-round Renaissance man Richard is away in Berlin this week, but colleagues Grooben and Shovels stepped into the breach to sample some of the beers on display. As an added bonus, we were joined by Andy and Jess, all the way from the London branch.
The bar follows a similar approach to Holyrood and the Red Squirrel, with standard keg beers supplemented by a rotating range of casked and kegged ales. The food menu focuses on burgers, with 20 available (I know! 20 burgers!), as well as breakfast and other meaty treats. The difference here is on the range of beers on offer. I counted 9 that I hadn’t personally tried, and luckily they were offering reduced prices on 1/3 measures, thus reducing the potential for any hangover action the following day (hey, it was a Monday night after all). With some high abv fare on offer, this was probably just as well.
First up we tried Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (7.6%). Regular readers may remember our first encounter with this Japanese hop during our Brewdog IPA is Dead podcast, with mixed results. This one got a similar reaction, a distinct bubblegum flavour on first taste leads to an oddly synthetic, perfume vibe on repeated visits. An acquired taste then, but definite points for interest value. Next was the casked Export Stout from Kernel (7.1%). The usual high standards from Kernel here, and its great to see one of their beers on cask in Edinburgh, although personally it didn’t blow me away in the way I was expecting.
An even more powerful affair was next with Summer Wine’s Maelstrom Double IPA (9.0%). Thick and syrupy as one might expect, with ripe mango and passion fruit, it didn’t quite distinguish itself from other double IPA’s and could perhaps have done with an extra note of bitterness to cut through the tropical fruit. My personal favourite of the the night was Crooked Tree IPA (6.0%) from the Dark Horse brewery in Michigan. This was a nicely balanced U.S. IPA, with everything that implies, and I could easily have had a few pints of this (and then fallen over).
Shovels also rated Crooked Tree as his favourite, followed closely by his dark beer of the night, Hardknott Vitesse Noir, which at 11% was also the biggest hitter in the abv stakes. This triple imperial stout infused with vanilla, coffee and chocolate was sublimely balanced and hid the abv well, and also took the accolade of Mr. Garvie’s beer of the evening.
Finally, two from Fyne Ales new IPA project series, which invites you to compare the taste differences between different coloured IPA’s. Series 1 is Davaar (5.5%). The Blonde version is bittered with Cascade and dry-hopped with Simcoe, with a result that is a touch too bitter and pithy for my taste. The Black IPA version was much better, with the added malt balancing out the bitterness, resulting in a good example of the style. Look out for Series 2, called Lismore, in June.
So there we have it, another welcome addition to the Edinburgh beer scene. The Southern will hopefully prove to be as popular as its sister bars, and I predict repeated visits by the Beercasters in future.