England Beer Adventure – Part 3
The first part of this part of the trip is a bit of a lie plus a little bit different. Firstly, it’s a lie because it takes place in Scotland! While Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, it’s not England. Apologies to any Scots lumping their wonderful country in with our English Beer Adventure, but we already came up with the title before Scotland had been finalised. Adding to that, it’s a bit different since we’ll be covering a wee amount of whisky. It is Scotland after all.
Adding to this, we’ll be heading back to Newcastle, which was the start of our trip and, sadly, the end. The good news is we got to try a new pub!
Beer in Scotland, Plus Some Whisky
We were staying just outside of Braemar, which is close to the royal holiday home of Balmoral Castle. Balmoral is a standard tourist attraction which is well worth it if you’re there when it’s open (it’s closed over the summer when the Royal Family is there). Down the road from Balmoral Castle is the legendary Royal Lochnagar Distillary, which not only supplies whisky to the estate, but also has a great tour for visitors. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and visitors are shown how the whisky is made and given a wee dram or two at the end.
For those unfamiliar with whisky distilling, it’s very similar to making beer, except hops aren’t used and it’s distilled at the end. The whisky samples given at the end were great, and a short tasting lesson was given for the novices out there. It’s well worth the trip!
We also did a great drive through the Speyside region of Scotland, dropping into a couple distilleries and into the awesome Whisky Castle in Tomintoul. This place boasts more than 500 malt whiskies and they’re not shy about giving a few free tastes! They also have the largest bottle of whisky in the world on display. It’s 105 litres of 14 year old Tomintoul single malt. Awesome!
This was all on the way to the legendary Loch Ness. Unsurprisingly, there is a Loch Ness Brewery. We managed to get our hands on the Malty Brown Ale and the Light Ness Session Pale Ale. Both were relatively good, but nothing extremely special other than being made from Loch Ness water. It’s worth trying if you come across it.
Around Braemar, we spent a good amount of time in a local cafe that sat right on the River Dee. Here they served a couple bottles from the Deeside Brewery. The Macbeth Scottish Pale Ale was pretty good and well worth having when you’re around. This beer wins photo of the year from our beerporn section.
Other than the cafe, Braemar was pretty small, and the only other place of note was the Braemar Lodge; a restaurant well stocked with the local Cairngorm Brewery beers. We worked our way through the their extensive list of beers named after local scenery and animals. There were winners and losers in the range, but it was a lot of fun to sit down, drink them all, and bicker about which was the best. Of course this got split between preferences for specific styles, but that’s half the fun of trying different craft beers, is it not?
Throughout this, there was plenty of hiking and sightseeing around the Scottish Highlands and, even without the beer and whisky, it was a great adventure. It’s truly a great place to visit and it was great to get away from it all for awhile.
Oh, and haggis. We ate lots of haggis. It was brilliant.
And Back to Newcastle
We started and ended our trip in Newcastle (but not before nipping back to Great Ayton for a quick parmo).
Upon arriving in Newcastle, we headed straight for the Tyne Bar which, despite the name, is actually on the Ouseburn, close to where it meets the Tyne. This place is popular, so be prepared to wait for your beer. With a great beer garden and live music, it’s no wonder. We didn’t stay for very long as it was way to crowded. Instead we head up the hill to the Free Trade Inn.
The Free Trade was definitely the better choice as it was less crowded (for awhile) and it had the best view of the Tyne, the beer selection was great, and the staff lovely and knowledgeable. The biggest highlights were the Un-Human Cannonball and the Magic 8 Ball, both by Magic Rock Brewing. These guys are obviously doing something right as they were the best two beers of the day for what was a fairly long session.
It was also great to see the Free Trade really pushing beers from England and Scotland. While there were a few American taps present, this pub really seemed to have their wits about them to keep it local, unlike many of the other pubs and bars we visited that didn’t represent their local breweries as much as they could have. This also meant that there was nothing but new stuff to try!
Newcastle was beautiful and wonderful and, since the two pubs we visited this round were further from the city centre than the bars we visited last time, we got to enjoy a nice walk along the River Tyne to get to them. This is a great sight to see in Newcastle and the whole place is worth a general walk around if you’re in for more than just beer!
Beer Highlights and Leaving
Unfortunately, every adventure has to come to an end and this beer adventure ends here. We managed to see quite a few attractions and try many more beers. With sadness and tiredness, we climbed back onto a 24 hour plane ride back to Melbourne to get back to normal life for awhile. At least we’ll be able to do some home brewing and enjoy all the great beers that our city has to offer.
Before we sign off, here are the beer highlights for this round (we’ll be doing a more thorough summary later):
- Magic Rock Brewing – Un-Human Cannonball
- Magic Rock Brewing – Magic 8 Ball
- Quantum Brewing Company – Witness the Fitness
- Five Points Brewing Company – Railway Porter
Missed the first one? See England Beer Adventure Part 1.
Missed the second one? See England Beer Adventure Part 2.
See all Beer Adventures.