The Scottish Real Ale Festival is almost upon us once again, with doors opening at noon on Thursday (the 9th) at the Corn Exchange out in Slateford. The all-important beer list is finalised; if everyone comes through with the casks, this time there will be a quite astonighing 60 different breweries present at the Corn Exchange – up from 53 last year, 48 in 2013, 41 in 2012, 37 in 2011, and 32 in 2010. The biggest cross-section of Scottish brewing in one place in living memory?
If everything in the provisional list makes it, the 2015 SRAF will see a wider beer selection than in previous years, too – over 170 different beers on offer. The festival will see debuts from a number of new Scottish producers, giving beer fans the chance to potentially get a first taste of the offerings from the WooHa, Campervan, Krafty Brew, Kinneil, Edinbrew, Drygate, Black Metal and Carbon Smith breweries – a great haul of recent arrivals to the scene. In terms of numbers, Stewart Brewing have the most from a single brewery (if you include their craft beer kitchen), with seven different casks.
Some of the festival must-try’s include a rhubarb saison from St Andrews brewery, the beautifully balanced Long White Cloud from Tempest, as well as a brand new mild from Loch Lomond called One for the Road. Fans of interesting ingredients should make a beeline for the newly re-branded Born in the Borders Brewery (formerly Scottish Borders) and their two foraged beers, as well as the first appearance of the Campervan Brewery who will have two beers including a coconut milk stout. Also, if you missed out on Natural Selection Brewing’s Bitter Descent at the launch the other week, you can get a chance to try it there.
Other business at the festival includes the crowning of the Champion Beer of Scotland for 2015 – last year’s winner Kelburn Dark Moor will have to hand back the trophy (the 2013 champion Fyne Ales Jarl came thirdlast year, with Ayr’s Rabbie’s Porter in second). There’ll also be a selection of ciders and perries as well as live music and on-site food.
The Scottish Real Ale Festival is being held at the Corn Exchange, New Market Road, Edinburgh from Thursday 9th July to Sunday 12th July. Opening hours are 12pm-11pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 12:30pm-4:30pm on Sunday (or whenever the beer runs out). Entry is £4 for CAMRA members, £6 for non-members, but keep hold of the glass given out and you can get free re-admission over the other days. As this is a preview, breweries and beers submitted may change – visit the official website to keep up with any amendments.
For more on what to expect at this year’s Scottish Real Ale Festival, my reports on the previous SRAF years are here –
2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007. (I didn’t go last year, I was getting married)…