Monday, July 20
by Chris Hammond
Hailing from Germany, Celebrator's reputation as a classic of its style proceeded it. Thick and treacly with a perfect sweet malt smell, I was expecting it to hit quite hard, especially with it's hefty 6.7% volume. But it trickled down my booze raddled throat with total ease. Smooth, moreish, potent, and overbearingly original this Deutsch delight justly deserves its position on the beer podium
Seek it out, sample it and surprise yourself that such a rich beer style can be so easily supped.
Sunday, July 19
by Chris Hammond
Local legend has it that not far from Dunkeld a hermit lived in a cave inhabited by a ferocious demon. These days it would appear that regional misfits prefer the Royal Dunkeld – a pub bereft of spirits of all forms other than alcoholic.
That said there is an eerie feel to this otherwise homely bar, mostly due to the creepy wooden carved faces peering across from the wall. These odd wooden voyeurs complete with pipes and hats gaze manically from their vantage point at the back of the room, putting the drinker more in mind of a Bavarian backwater than a British bourgeois boozer.
That said the curious décor can’t detract from what is in most respects a top end watering hole. The traditional, well portioned food, decent real ale selection and superb courtyard beer garden all help make this place a good bet for prolonged quaffing. The fact it also doubles up as a hotel means the staff’s service is impeccable and the steady stream of travellers makes for an interesting multinational mix and a good atmosphere. With this in mind the Royal Dunkeld comes recommended, just remember that when full it’s fine but can be eerie when empty.
by Chris Hammond
Whilst the weekend appeal of Dunkeld is awesomely obvious, watching the regulars recall decade old stories of small time banality loses its charm fairly swiftly.
When describing a rural bar so steeped in local tradition, it would be truculent to suggest its inhabitants resembled real life copies of Wicker Man extras. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t. From the gibbering tweed bonneted geriatrics to the hundred yard stares of the vacant youths, the Perth Arms clientele were hardly high class.
Slap bang in the middle of Dunkeld’s fine old centre, The Perth Arms is a basic bar for basic people. Outdated jukebox and pool table aside, the only other entertainment came in the form of a big screen. And yet despite the dull permanent Sunday night atmosphere, gleefully stereotypical tartan curtains and seemingly deliberately uninspiring drinks choice – this place does have some sort of bizarre backwards charm.
Whether this comes from the roaming leash free dogs, or a live feed of a wild osprey nest beaming across from the TV I couldn’t say, but the flawed quaintness of this dour drinking den makes it more than acceptable for a pint, albeit a very quick one.
Tuesday, May 19
Monday, May 18
by Chris Hammond
Having once had the pleasure of living on the elegantly grim Marischal Street, I was once a mid-week regular at The Moorings. Here you could sit, scoof and survey the sights of Scotland’s most surreal harbour haunt.
Resembling a cross between a typical American dive bar and a secret pirate hideaway, the Moorings is a drunkards dream. Floor to ceiling are crammed with esoteric artefacts and nautical novelties, bar staff are unnervingly unhinged and the locals constitute a mix of students, seamen, goths, rockers and drifters. It’s a melting pot of boozed up mongrels, intent on a guaranteed hard rock, Jaegermeister fuelled oblivion. Live (predominately shit) music, dozens of exotic beers, tonnes of almost toxic shots and an overbearing atmosphere of excess, combine to provide bandana clad buccaneer and suited up scoundrel alike a momentously enjoyable experience.
In here I’ve been whipped, propositioned by a pregnant punk, survived some titanic urinal splashback and chatted to a tramp about constipation – all in the same evening. The Moorings is a one off and comes highly recommended.
Tuesday, May 5
by Chris Hammond
Here's a little something I wrote for Hyper Short Stories - a blog which asks writers to submit 50 word tales on a certain prompt. I thought the concept was great and it's the first thing remotely creative I've done in months.
Yesterday I Spent My Last Dollar
"Eyes flick open. Stale beer on the tongue. Face stuck to the wooden floorboards, coat and shoes still on. The rain lashes against the kitchen window and the oak outside sways in the gale. Nature wouldn’t feel so active had it spent its last dollar on a pint of ale."
Click the link to check out the blog - Hyper-Short Stories
By Chris Hammond
Up north in Elgin for the week, it would have been rude not to indulge in a cheeky wee pint or two over the duration of my stay. And indulge I did. The Cooperage, Thunderton, Dicey Reilly’s, Muckle Cross and Rising Sun all had the pleasure of my company over the period. And whilst those who are familiar with many of these pubs won’t exactly be deliriously ripe with anticipation at the thought of them – I quite enjoyed their limited wares and general lack of aesthetic charm.
Later towards the end of my stay, it was mooted that a swift pint in the Granary might be a good idea. Essentially a godsend on its inception (when it was known as the Foundry) but lacking in thrills thereafter, things seem not to have changed much over the years. Inside it’s still the sort of high end youth club for adults you tend to find in small towns. You know the sort – pool tables, hot food, big screens, late night disco, themed nights, tea and coffee for the old buggers booze for the young ones.
So far so bland. But it isn’t the mundane lack of definition which makes this such a disappointing drinking den, it’s the utterly horrendous quality of the draught beer.
Amstel, Heineken and Peroni on tap might not force a seasoned city drinker into popping to the loo for a sly chug, but in Elgin these three beers are priceless and tasty commodities. I had been warned by my companion not to be drawn to these non-Tenants draught options and to stick with a bottled beer. I should have listened, because the pints were . . .
Literally the worst I have ever had anywhere on draught out with a Student Union. I'll be interested to see whether things have improved next time in in these parts.
Wednesday, August 20
Now i know Tom through a rather mysterious beautiful Indian friend, known only as 'V', and, like me, Tom has an enthusiam for the pub trade. Charismatic, charming, efficient, and friendly, he has been a bar man for long enough to give the Scottish Pub Guide an informed low-down on the ins and outs of pub life down at the busy and oh-so-trendy Shore. Tom and V own the lease for the magnificent roadrunner Bar Diesel; or at least they did.
Unfortunately, and the news resonates with all the happiness of Chernobyl's radioactive diffusion, Bar Diesel closed down last month. I should know, I was at the closing weekend party, where Tom kindly allowed those loyal punters to have a few freebies or ten- like i say he's a lovely guy. Despite the valedictory revelry, it was a sad occasion for all and sundry.
So why has Bar Diesel closed down, a pub which offered so much, tried so hard and, from many-a-punter's perspective, delivered the goods with consummmate ease? It was a fantastic bar after all?
Custom; slightly, oh-so-slightly in fact, just off the beaten track most punters seemed to have by-passed the boozer. Set just around the corner from Sofi's and the Waterline, and far superior to both, people simply seem to be unaware of its existence. How this is possible i don't know, but it is to everybody's loss.
Bar Diesel had everything; great food, great beers, motorbikes on display, leather sofa's, trendy artwork, clean, airy, tile-floored- it was a delight for the senses. How come Leithers did not know it was here!!!!!! Certainly Tom and V tried hard enough to promote it, but the basic fact that about ten metres of mis-location has proved perilous to this esteemed establishment. Heart-breaking, truly heart-breaking, the Marksman and Anderson's and Wilkie's thrive whilst this beauty wilts. This tragedy will, i'm sure, be lost on most of you!
Formally The Gin House it has now changed name, but i'm afraid it is just as bad as i remembered, possibly worse- which speaks volumes for the I.Q levels of the so-called renovators. Its new orientation sees it marketed as, quell supris, a trendy wine bar/ funky discotheque paying too much for four fat bast*rds to guard the entrance and having a strict policy of only letting c*nts in.
Beautiful barmaids, food by day, and a large extension area downstairs are the new features but most impressive is the novel grandiose upstairs area, making it possible to perv on cleavage and drip semen into the pints of the last vestiges of King George VII’s gene pool. In many ways the piece de resistance of the St Andrews pub ethos, which in concise summation, is to have a potentially really good joint considering the affluent demographic, the stupendously fit birds, the student vibe and the execution of a Gattuso slide tackle that would even make the Italian stallion cringe. Could be/should be/why the f*ck isn’t it any good?
Who knows. Anyway, it’s a massive dollop of slimey poo which perpetuates itself through the wallets of some of the biggest fanny-faced Aryan/Oxbridge/Devil’s rejects who like to frequent here, I think they call it ‘Old Sarum’ or something to discuss whether there is anybody on earth who, as a collective, might steal their crown as really massive tw*ts. Achieves the ‘bad pub award’ with consummate ease.If it rules anything, i would hate to think what the roost was like.
by Dave Hynes
This legendary pub is like a basement ghetto for those students and locals trying to avoid a particular brand of homo arsus, the St Andrews posh student, kitted out it titillating polo jodhpurs and wellington boots, finishe dwith splendid Elizabethan haircuts, inbred for maximum titness and with huge mammary glands hanging off the testicles of the males.
Yes, Aikmans is a different kettle of fish entirely from the usual St Andrews outfit. It's not neccessarily great because sometimes it really brings you down with its morose offerings of normality and it's fairly old-manish outlook. Nevertheless, it is for its incongruity which sets Aikman's apart from the rest; welcoming, friendly, warm and cosy it puts two fingers up to the latest phenomenon in St Andrews, that ghastly neurosis affecting the town, I am referring, of course, to the stupidity of the gastro-pub craze. What nonsense.
It’s a strange old place is old Aikman's.; dotted with a few strange individuals, lots of hippies, music afficionados, and sweaty locals who seem to come to check out the talent. It is unique in St Andrews as a pub unlike any other, virtually unchanged for the last thirty years.
The manageress, known authoritively, affectionately and with justifiable aplomb as ‘Barbara’ is a genuinely wonderful human being who deserves every success in life. In truth, she does an excellent job, working tirelessly to ensure smooth runnings. Aikman’s is filled with an excellent array of beers from around Europe and especially different areas of
Aikman’s is pretty good for its gigs as well, although if your unlucky you’ll go when its just one tw*t with his guitar worshipped by loads of posh and/or working class tw*ts, probably strangely enjoying the vibe’s class cross sectional tw*t appeal , drinking Erdinger and genuinely not knowing how not to be a tw*t. Sometimes though, it’s absolutely brilliant, great blues riffs, folk songs, rock and roll and its hard not to just completely forget yourself and get down with it all.
One major problem; it’s excruciatingly hot, especially downstairs where if you drink enough premium lager you can pretty much trip. I did and i saw the whisky bottles sliding off their holsters, down the walls and into the fanny of the grand daughter of the earl of Derbyshire. As I dived into her precious parts, I saw methodine-flavoured alka-seltzers, I saw tomato-kissed red lumps of stout beauty, I saw ochre-shaded pints of the good stuff and blond tuffs of luscious lager, I saw the beautiful tones of a connoisseur brandy, I saw the ruff pools of buckfast swimming inside her womb….i saw so much it broke my mind on a jagged sky of hallucinogenic dogshit
So this is what Aikman’s is, a riddle inside a mystery inside an enigma inside a really strange Scottish fishing town, recession- proof, tourist-friendly, golf-orinented, hedonistic place filled with a few absolute diamond geezers, like the magnificent Barbara, but mostly filled with wankers. Truly encapsulates the self-perpetuating dichotomy of dilemma the
by Dave Hynes
For this week's installment of an overview of the beer industry, we've decided to look at the market for cheap off-license bargains. More accurately, low-cost supermarket offerings. more accurate still, the bease we know as Lidl- that blitzkrieg German export helping the impoverished get pissed at a price of about £0.001 per 200 litres of booze. So, what do they offer?
- FINKBRAU; Price; at a whopping 39pence a can, even the hobo's are laughing all the way to the....... dole office. Five cans for a measly £2,... ney bad pal. ABV; 4.0%, so-so. Taste; actually it's seriously drinkable, genuinely as tasty as the over-priced up-market counterparts. Star Rating; we like it!
- GRAFEN WALDER; Price; modestly placed at 75 pence, this is one of Lidl fancier versions of cheap lager. ABV; 4.8%, wahoo! Taste; Again, seriously provides value for money, i prefer it to Stella, Carling, Foster's, Tennants, in fact, i rate it better than most beers. Star Rating; excellent, but is it worth two Finkbrau's?
- EXCELSIOR; Price; 83 pence, steady there Lidl, don't bust my balls, ABV; 4.1%, fairly average, Taste; pretty dire i'm afraid Star Rating; seriously crap beer
- KLASSIEK Holland Lager; Price; 77p (per bottle), not bad but not quite a bargain; ABV; 5.0%, yeeees!, Taste; very nice actually, crisp clean and quite contagious; Star Rating; worth getting if you buy a multipack
- Hatherwood Bitter, Price; £2.29 4-pack, ABV; 4.0%, bit weak, Taste; dark brown flavoursome mixture of malt and hops which goes down the old pipe with consummate ease.
by Dave Hynes
The Královský Pivovar Krušovice (the Royal Brewery of Krušovice) is one of the oldest breweries in the Czech Republic. The brewery was established in 1517 when the Svatováclavská Contract enabled the aristocracy to brew beer on their own farms. Its most famous export is a beautifully crisp, clean and refreshing beer which has witnessed something of a rise to fame in the UK market over the last five years.
See, here at the ScottishPubGuide we strive to bring you in-depth, historically accurate information ( entirely plagiarised of course), relentlessly searching and scanning the myriad archives of brewing history to bring you, the alcoholic punters, a much needed low-down on what's hot and what's not.
My trumpet blows loud but this time justifiably so, because Krusovice is a king of beers. Brisque and terse on the throat, it is staggeringly quenching as smooth mouthful after mouthful satiates the drinker with a golden treacle. It's easy to sink about six in a row without realising it.
Crisp, textured and weaven through an intricate web of wonderful wheat, heaped together through a happy hedonistic helping of hops, and made with mellow, magic, melting malts, Krusovice simply provides a delight for the senses. Priced, generally, over the £3 barrier you pay for the quality it delivers but it's certainly provides value for money.
Krusovice has recently been taken over by Heineken breweries which sounds a precarious merger, let's hope the Dutch don't mess this Czech delight around too much
It's older brother, Krusovice Dark, is a brooding black panther of a beer which, staggeringly, manages to beat its milder blonder cousin. Expect another feature on Krusovice Dark soon, part of the ScottishPubGuide's Czech Beer season.
Picture Attribution; *TOM
Friday, August 15
We'd encourage anyone with an interest in beer to take a look at some of his books and enjoy his website The Beer Hunter
Monday, August 11
by Chris Hammond
This week The Scottish Pub Guide is plumping for my personal favourite, Pilsner Urquell. As bitter as Arsene Wenger but as tasty as Kiera Knightly, this colossal Czech beverage is an absolutely wonderful if complex creature.
It’s so damn fine in fact I’d use it for an enema given half the chance. Just think of those gloriously cloying bubbles of beery delight fondling your colon, bathing the little blighter in pure natural Eastern European goodness . . .
Do it quickly enough and you could also use the discarded fluid to top up your mates pint. That’d give the recycling Nazis something to think about.
Photo by burge5000
Friday, August 8
by Chris Hammond
Being the most atheist of Britain’s major cities Aberdeen has rather brilliantly thrown up a never ending supply of derelict churches to the pub industry; Soul (an eerily vapid drinking experience somehow more sinister than even the most deviant Dracula incarnation) and The Priory (just shite really) join Slains in being the most prominent of these watering holes of worship.
And on the face of it Slains is great! It’s a gorgeous silver church with a huge cavernous interior filled to the brim with suitably morbid décor. Suits of armour, bookcases for doors, chandeliers, torture implements and horror paraphernalia are liberally strewn across the bars two floors of gothic glory. It’s a real feast for the eyes . . . just not the other senses. Aurally it’s about as scary as it can get for an intelligent human being, with a hideous barrage of commercial R&B and pop destroying any atmosphere that the undoubtedly top notch surroundings might have induced. Likewise the edible wares on offer are equally unpalatable, cheap gassy lager and lurid, weak, sugary cocktails are the drinks of choice at a bar so unimpressive it almost seems as if alcoholics anonymous are in charge of the purchasing.
Clientele wise it drips with nervy first year university students finally unleashed after an eternity suckling their mothers teat – here they wander round sheepishly trying to avoid the more seasoned yet equally sozzled assortment of ruffians.
Scary stuff indeed. So much so in fact I’ll let a Bram Stoker quote summarise a Saturday night in Salins . . .
“A horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal."
Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Photo by cvander
Thursday, August 7
by Dave Hynes
This is a real shit tip. The first thing you notice about Dockers is that even dockers don’t go there. Such a migration of customer loyalty away from a pub principally advertising its clientele so ostentatiously is usually the sign that it’s not a terrific outfit- and it isn't. In truth, Dockers needs to be knocked down and started again, maybe being rebranded as Porker’s and having a little titty bar on the side.
Apparently, there is a new phenomenon which has hit, most pertinently, those mobile juvenile delinquent pests who give Leith it’s self-perpetuating stock of fresh meat by, quite wrongly, having the capacity to disseminate population paste. I am of course referring to the Young Leith Troops (YLT.) who have begun a craze called ‘docking’. They ‘dock’ each other by rubbing their forskins together in the street like a kind of penishead-style thumb war. I didn’t, unfortunately, see much of this during my brief flirt with the Dockers but I did see someone who needed to be shot by a nobel prize winning assassin. The owner, a corpuscular middle aged lady who looks like an arm wrestling champion, was a whorish landlady who seems to prefer that her beloved cradle of a bar be a commercial disaster and a backhole for Calvinist torture chambers. She has a very obvious fear that outside lies people who may not be local and should therefore be kept at bay.
Apart from myself and the lovely landlady the pub was empty leaving me to assess the Dockers in all its vacuous glory. This is a shit pub of premiership quality and would certainly gain Champions League football next year, runs the Marksman into areas its never been taken before, just pipped by the fact I’ve been told the Marksman has two more fatalities per week than the Dockers- though I think most crime in the Dockers goes unreported or/and recycled into the stout pumps.
Think of a place you hate, open your eyes and voila, la Dockers
Monday, August 4
by Chris Hammond
War is hell so they say. But nobody ever tells you about the real curse of the battlefield, the deep wounds that never heal, the true scars left on the landscape . . . the military theme pub.
No I’m not writing about somewhere teaming with boozed up bare arsed squaddies, flaccid RAF layabouts and sexually deprived sailors; you can’t grudge them a pint and a night off making a royal twat of themselves, they’ve earned it more than any of us. I’m writing about the kind of place staffed by men who wouldn’t know a beer barrel from a gun barrel, the kind of place with tenuous links to great battalions or battles of the past, the sort of pub that looks like it’s innards have seen more action than Cromwell. I’m writing about places like The Waterloo just off
Nestled just round from
Plastic soldiers from long since forgotten conflicts watch on as you ponder whether life slips away faster in here than it would have done on the eastern front circa 1945. It’s hard to tell really. Another pint of cyanide you say? Why the bloody hell not old boy!
Wednesday, July 30
by Chris Hammond
There it was glistening like Excalibur in the fridge of my local Oddbins - a cheaper than chips session beer coming in at a bargain 6 bottles for five buck. Sweltering heat, increasingly tight deadlines and an overwhelming desire to let rip led me into purchasing a full 12 of these bad boys.
German brewed, tight, crisp tasting and almost gas free - Veltins is the perfect pilsner for procrastination, pissing about and productivity free periods of pleasure. I'd drink it like water if I could. If only the heat of summer had come earlier so I could have discovered this budget beer before the hordes of thirsty tourists hit Edinburgh to pillage the off licence's of their products. The delivery van comes Thursday I'm told . . . damn that's a whole fifteen hours before my next Veltins hit!
Monday, July 28
by Chris Hammond
Nestled between Aberdeen and Inverness is the temperate, whisky soaked, supermarket saturated cathedral city of Elgin. It's a pretty place with a central European style square, nice architecture, plenty of greenery and a plethora of pubs; chief amongst these for quality being the historic Thunderton House.
The first thing worth mentioning about this traditional pub is that if the past gets you in a lather this place will give you a historical 'hard on'. Based in an ancient safehouse the building is renowned for hiding the fake Scottish Prince Bonnie Prince Charlie whilst he fled from the English during the 1700's. Inside today it boasts a fine wooden bar, working fireplace, plenty of seating, wide screens for sport and some of the most attentive bar staff you'll happen across anywhere in the country. There's also a ghost (naturally), bar meals, real ale and not even the slightest whiff of pushy barmen trying to sell the antiquated aspects to you in the same way more established city pubs would do with such a grand premises.
The clientle varies from Burtons clad RAF toss pots (there are two bases close by), stray tourists, boozy professionals, students with a buck or two to spare and a never ending roll call of increasingly indescribable regulars. It's fun, friendly, busy, warm and serves a decent pint what more could you ask for? Blowjob and a boogie? Try Downtown USA across the road . . .
Tuesday, July 22
by Chris Hammond
Ever heard of Colonsay brewery? Because we hadn't and generally speaking. that isn't a good thing. Always looking to try something new we took the plunge and blasted one of these bad boys between us.
Not being one of the cheaper beers on the market and obviously produced in limited volumes, we were expecting some obvious marks of quality from this beer. Heavy in flavour, dark in colour and naturally tasty - Colonsay Lager is one of the best we've had in a while. Whilst it's too heavy to imbibe at length, its qualities make it a perfect beer for a meal. Soft, luxurious and with a tendency not to linger this is one of Scotland's unheralded gems.
by Dave Hynes
Twat meets cunt in an awesome way in the ultimate twatcunt collection ever. The greatest hits must include that classic by Allen Breck, Oh how woeful is my Pub. Never a truer lyric has been spat down or hollered since this is a truly woeful pub. Its such a shithole it has repelled any possible orthodox criticism based on conventions like safety, prettiness and style as far too obviously crude. When places like Allen Breck and the Marksman are this bad, to not find the positive is to not find the soul- thank goodness I’m home, this is a dive deserving of the title. And guess what me droogs? As always, one of the friendliest places on earth.
Pubs are an analogy of life. When they have nothing they look for the optimistic and when they seemingly have everything they act like twats. Allen Breck has nothing, but it does have a bit of character. A lonely bandit machine is about the only distinguishing feature of this barren landscape, other than a bar- which is probably to be expected. Looks like a renovated bingo hall without the renovation or the prospect of group activity. In Allen Breck, even just two unfortunate customers seems deemed to be a crowd and the landlord puts on a mighty display of hearty welcoming and invites you into a consensual debate about contemporary topics such as the meaning of life. These debates with customers are always consensual because he has the gleam of madness in his eye and when I asked for a Guinness he turned round, pants by his ankles and beer glass around his cock, and decried ‘ I just invented Frankenstein’. Good on you son, somebody had to.
Allen Breck is, of course, one to be avoided like the plague but this may be a double-edged sword. Like the old bubonic bacteria it’s just a wee bit contagious. There is a certain charm about the fact it’s so unassuming, understated ( there’s nothing to state really) and..erm charming. Going in Allen Breck can make you break out in a sweat and could lead to an outbreak if kept unchecked. It seems to have a healthy-ish loyalty of rank and file customers and its proximity to Leith Links means you get to see some of the rejects from
This is probably where the boys drafted up for the