As a general rule, change is something that happens remarkably slowly in Edinburgh. The drudgery of the tram fiasco is the prime example, but museums and galleries routinely close for years to redevelop themselves – and the Cowgate fire site still remains empty, leering up at the Bridges like a pulled tooth. However, there is one part of Edinburgh changing at a giddying pace. Lothian Road – once infamous for after-hours trouble – is flourishing, with relative newcomer the Red Squirrel now nestling alongside Illegal Jack’s, Wagamama, and (ahem) Nando’s.
For a while though, rumours have swirled around the Edinburgh beer community that another bespoke bar was to open on the same street – and when it did, it would be worth the wait. Officially announced yesterday, The Hanging Bat is set to take over the expiring lease of Mr. Modos. Having been Uluru in a previous guise, the re-invention would only be minor news if it weren’t for the people behind the latest incarnation – and the details of what the Hanging Bat will provide.
Apart from retaining the split-level interior, the inside of the bar will be completely refitted – and will also involve a brand new frontage featuring plenty of greenery (a rarity for Lothian Road in itself). Aside from the cosmetic, the beer on offer will change almost beyond recognition – four cask lines and at least twelve keg will include a house pale ale brewed by one of Yorkshire’s most exciting new breweries. The best nanobrewery in Scotland will also be involved with one of the cask ales, and craft cider will be on offer.
What sets the Hanging Bat apart, however, is that it will also be a fully working brewpub – with a Sabco Brew Magic kit and four fermenters on site. With a head brewer in place, the team can produce their own bespoke beer for the bar, either as a limited special or something more regular. They are also very keen to get the public involved, and for the first time in Edinburgh drinkers can sign up for a brewing lesson and then try their beer on what will be a true ‘customer tap’.
There’s some way to go yet – work begins in six weeks, and hopefully if all goes well the Hanging Bat will be open for business at the end of July. The landscape really is changing – having a fully-fledged brewpub on Lothian Road is huge news for the Edinburgh pub scene. Following on from other recent bar openings, once again the proof is there that when it comes to drinking – change can happen quickly, and definitely be for the better.
The Hanging Bat, 133 Lothian Road Edinburgh EH3 9AD
Twitter Feed – @TheHangingBat
Work to complete the renovations eventually took longer than expected, and the official opening night for the Hanging Bat was Monday the 19th of November – read our full report here.