A guide to beer in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
A guide to beer in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
Starting with my go to beer brand in the city, Fierce Beer. I’m all for this brand not only for its amazingly diverse range of beers but its triumphant story.
After meeting on a brewing course and receiving rave reviews of their home brews, owners Dave Grant and Dave McHardy decided to take the plunge and make their passion a reality by making a start to the Fierce story.
Since its first batch in May 2016, appetite has grown to demand 800,000 litres of beer a year to feed its bars in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester – not forgetting its exports to 15 countries. With the addition of two new tanks to its HQ in Dyce, it’s clear that there’s no sign of this brewing titan slowing its roll anytime soon.
With a growing appetite comes a growing community, and the support from its legion of supporters defined as the Fierce Family is inspiring. After opening its flagship bar in Aberdeen following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the brand ran a second to raise £75,000 to help the business sustain through the pandemic and in just 24 hours £155,820 was donated – yeah that’s not a typo, 24 hours!
I’m a dark beer lover through and through so right at the top of my list is the Cafe Racer infused with espresso coffee creating rich and velvety brew ending with smooth notes of Madagascan vanilla – delightful! I have a sneaky suspicion that a new favourite is away to hit my list after catching wind of the brand’s newest addition, Fierce Agave which adds two tequila products to its ever expanding product range.
Taking a trip over to the most Eastern part of Scotland where the microbrewery of Brew Toon brews its distinguished flavours enjoyed by the masses. Keeping close to its nautical roots, local ingredients are infused to create its bold and adventurous craft beer flavours that reflect the seafaring spirit of its base in Peterhead and the surrounding community.
History lovers will be interested to know that the Brew Toon micro-distillery is on the very site where, back in the 1700s, John Hunter and his sons set up the famed Tanfield brewery which not only kept the people of Peterhead in good stock but exported its beer all across Scotland. Brew Toon are gearing up to open its first bottle shop and tasting room in Peterhead over coming weeks so keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.
After falling in love with the Belgium beer scene, owner Robert Lindsay set out on his quest to add beers that drew on the Belgian brewing traditions and culture to the North-east drinkscape.
As a firm believer in the life phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”, this goes out the window when it comes to the cans and bottles of six°north, you most definitely should. With stylish seventies influenced labels setting the tone nicely for tasting what treats live inside.
I’m a regular visitor to its Aberdeen bar which oozes the vibe of a German beer house with an open plan interior kitted out with benches giving off a real community feel to enjoy the freshest take on beer with others.
Great beer and food come together here to create one unrivalled duo. Aberdeen’s icons of woodfired meats, Smoke and Soul take up the kitchen residency to serve up mounding dishes of mac and cheese loaded with brisket, poutine, dirty fries and signature sandwiches.
Now this is a place I’ve not been to since before the pandemic and I’m very much looking forward to escaping below the cobbles of Stirling Street to its tavern of hidden gems.
CASC quite simply defines its overflowing selection as “demanding excellence and rejecting anything less” with all that fills its stock being trialed by its expert team to ensure all products are truly top shelf.
Since opening its doors in 2013, Cask has been passionate about pairing cigars with fine whisky, beer and coffee to expose its punters to unrivalled combinations. Now the brand offers a shopping experience through its new retail space on King Street to buy bottles, cans and boxes of its superior stock.
Sandwiched between the rich countryside of the Cairngorms National Park and the crashing coastline, Burnside Brewery has been brewing easy-drinking beers from its brewery in Laurencekirk since 2010.
Taking inspiration and ingredients from its surrounding landscape to craft refreshing and natural recipes, this brand has a passion for creating a taste of Scotland in every hand-filled bottle.
Budding brewers get the chance to try their hand at brewing here with the Be the Brewer sessions which restart this month. Spend a Saturday at the brewery where the team take you through the brewing process with an access all areas experience to create your own beer.
If you’re eager to order through the online shop, check out its Beer Tasting Notes which breaks down each of its beers to ensure you find your perfect match. While you’re there, add some ready to cook pork pies from Wark Farm and you have an epic pie and pint combination.
I can’t write a North-east inspired beer article and not mention beer giants BrewDog. Making a name for themselves as the punks of the craft beer scene, these brewing bandits are never far from trouble but one thing you can’t deny is that they make mighty fine beer.
Starting out brewing in Fraserburgh in 2007 and retailing small batches from the boot of a van at local markets, BrewDog has since grown to world domination scale with five breweries, over 70 bars and four hotels fueling beer lovers all over the globe.
A visit to its HQ in Ellon is a must to tour its brewery and visit the new museum to learn of its compelling past, present and future. Grab a seat in the onsite bar after for a towering burger (always the Cluck Norris for me) or speciality wings and taste beers straight from the brewery.
Your local beer stash may be screaming out for the addition of beers from across the globe, Hop Shop Aberdeen (which resides within Westhill Filling Station) can satisfy that craving. With over 300 craft beers stocked, plus two chilled growler stations fed straight from the keg, don’t expect a quick refuel stop here. And before I sign this one off, three words: Irn Bru Sour *melts*.
Photograph by @hopshopaberdeen
An online drinks shop is one thing but an online drinks shop focusing on Scotland (and more importantly the North-east) is music to my ears. Birthed during the pandemic, Devenick Drinks aims to provide a hub for beer, coffee and spirit enthusiasts to shop local brands and discover new names from all across Scotland.
Combining their love for craft beer, distilling and coffee, friends Andy, Bryan and Glen created this online brand to provide a no nonsense gateway to the best products with the support local tag at the forefront.
Think of this place like a local Amazon, stocking hand selected small batch products to ensure that, no matter what’s ordered, quality is delivered to your door. With 23 suppliers and over 80 products under its belt already, there’s more to come with a few start-up breweries setting up to list ready for launch.
Andy Christie is one third of the Devenick Drinks team and I was interested to know which local beers he would put the spotlight on, so I asked him that very question:
“I guess if we had to pick a few standout breweries close to home it would be the guys over at Fierce Beer, the Cranachan Killer is like the dessert itself but without the need for a spoon!
“The M’ango Unchained by BrewToon is out of this world with its heavy hitting and fruity punch!! And then there’s Reids Gold Brewery in Stonehaven and its North Sea Haar which is made in collaboration with the Haar Restaurant in St Andrews and includes ingredients we had never even heard of before!
“And last but not least, six°north. The Wonderlust Wheat Beer is one of the best you’ll find this side of Germany! I really could go on about their range of beers all day!
“The quality of craft beer from these four companies has been fundamental in keeping North-east Scotland on the craft beer map.”