Belgian beer has an unmistakable mystique surrounding it, one that (if I wanted to verge completely into pseud’s corner) I would say transcends boundaries. I’ve been to small Adriatic islands where the only options are base lager, but there’s a small bar that sells Orval, and has Tripel Karmeliet tin-signs up on the walls. For such a small country, its beers reach far beyond the boundaries of the low countries. As such, Aberdeen is a city that you could never describe in terms similar to Adriatic islands – there’s much more of a historic beer culture there, for a start (before comparisons relating to the weather are even considered). Yet, down a twisting side-street a short stroll from the BrewDog bar, there recently opened Six°North, a Belgian-themed beer bar that immediately stands out.
Six°North is a brewery tap for the producer of the same name, subtitled ‘the Belgian brewers of Scotland’, who operate from the Marine Hotel in Stonehaven. As such, Six°North have their hometown tap already in place, in the guise of the hotel, but founder Robert Lindsay was keen right from the start to get his beers into the nearest major market. The 6°n bar opened only a couple of months ago, and still looks extremely new – but it also looks the business, with several nods to traditional Belgian taphouses; plenty of basic, convivial seating, and the chrome tap surrounds that bracket the bar counter. The beer list – which is suitably enormous – is written on the highest chalkboard I’ve ever seen, right up in the rafters.
It’s a welcoming space, with a front room overlooking the street, and a central communal area with a large balcony above. Home beers are well represented, as you’d expect, with five Six°North kegged beers and a single cask on offer, alongside another nineteen kegged offerings and a couple of casks. There are Scottish notables such as Cromarty, Tiny Rebel and Alechemy, but 6°n is, first and foremost, a Belgian bar. And it’s a cracker. As Six°North find their feet as a brewery, to have these notable bedfellows on tap in their bar must be hugely exciting – certainly I never expected to be able to drink Troubador Magma in Scotland. But then, that’s Belgian beer for you. As those Adriatic islands attest, the joy of Belgian beer is that it travels well – and in Abderdeen, has found a new destination.