Beer Rant

Right, that’s it. I’ve had enough. Every time I talk to people about Scottish beer, they tell me it’s s*it. I serve people in bars all the time waxing lyrical about Czech beer, English beer and American micro breweries (by the way, all these countries make ridiculously good beer). But when I drop in that Scotland makes some awesome beers, people look at me funny and tell me that Tennent’s is the only thing we make here.

Black Isle

Firstly, Tennent’s is just a basic lager. It is a thirst quencher and if it is served right (cold and fizzy), it does the job. Sometimes, you don’t want a taste explosion Hefeweizen. You just want a cold and fizzy lager at a reasonable price. It is easily better than Carlsberg, Carling, Beck’s and Grolsch. It’s not as good as Budvar, Peroni, or a very nice Pilsner, but it’s not s*it. A lot of the time, the pub you drink in influences the beer. If they serve it in a frosted glass and they manage their kegs and lines properly, Tennent’s is grand.

Secondly, Scotland makes superb beer. The list of beers is never ending. Whether it is pilsner: Haviestoun’s Schiehallion, lager: West Brewery’s St Mungo’s, porter/stout: Orkney Dark Isle or our experimental whisky cask aged stuff: Innis & Gunn and Arran beers.

Thirdly, Scotland makes excellent whisky. To make whisky, the first step is to make beer. I assumed that the beer or wash wasnt very good, but I stand corrected after visiting Balblair recently. Their wash, if it had been chilled and filtered, would have tasted absolutely superb. Like a really nice wheat beer.

For anyone that says Scotland make s*it beers, take yourself on a long trip. Say for argument’s sake you are based in London. Fly to Glasgow. In Glasgow, visit the West Brewery. From Glasgow, head to the Isle of Arran. Enjoy the peaceful splendour of the Island. Drink the whisky and enjoy the beer. From there, get a ferry to Campbeltown and drive up to Glencoe. Do some extreme sports and then visit the Atlas brewery(which is attached to a climbing wall, lots of fun). Drink in the Clachaig Inn that night (One of the best pubs in Scotland). Eat an awesome venison burger and drink one of their hilariously named beers while listening to some chest beating, drum thumping folk music.

From Glencoe, head up North to the Black Isle. Black Isle Blonde is one of my favourite beers (maybe try and catch an Inverness Cale Thistle game while you are up that end of the country). After that, head up to the dramatic splendour that is Orkney and enjoy some of their finest liquid (as well as seeing neolithic stones, the Italian chapel, ancient tombs and all the other amazing stuff). At the end of that trip, you will discover that Scotland makes awesome beer, awesome whisky, awesome food and you will have an awesome holiday. Maybe go in the summer though, we don’t make awesome weather!



  1. It might be good, but it’s not Belgian…

  2. Talk to me then, I looove scottish beer

    Tradewinds, Deuchars. Bitter&Twisted, Tryst Carronade, Ossian, Black Isles, Dark Island just to name a few

  3. Absolutely right man! We in Scotland have some absolutely amazing beers. And in the case of breweries like Brewdog, some real ground-breaking stuff too. Harviestoun, William Bros, Orkney, Black Isle and Cairngorm all produce tremendous ales.

  4. Tennent’s better than Grolsh and Beck’s? In which alternative universe? :D

    Apart from that I agree wholeheartedly. I’m also pissed off by people slating Scottish beer.


  5. I’m sold. My next holiday will be a grand beer and whisky tour of Scotland (I hope).

    Cheers Chris!

  6. To Lucas: we will do a comparison between Beck’s, Grolsh and super T. The Tennent’s will win.

    To Helgi: Glad I inspired you!

    To everybody: I think we should further the cause by having a Scottish beer tonite. I am already on my second!

  7. Oi – you didnt mention Deuchars or the crazy boys from Fraserburgh!!

    Fancy sending me a bottle of deuchars?! Spanish beer is P*sh! but a lot better than chinese!

  8. On Belgians tonight, Chris. But on Tuesday, after the Glenlivet tasting we can go all Scottish!

  9. Tennent’s is rank. Horrible, chemical stuff. Beck’s is much nicer…but I totally agree on the rest:

    Avalanche from Loch Fyne Brewery.
    All the Arran ales.
    Everything from Williams Bros in Alloa.
    Goldihops and Red Smiddy from Kelburn.
    Dark Island from Orkney.
    Red Cuillins et al from Skye.
    The Hebridean Brewery in Stornoway and the Cairngorm brewery.

    The list is almost endless. We make the some of best real ales in the world, as opposed to the lagers and pilsners that most of the countries you mentioned make. We make proper beer!

    Right, where’s my kilt and claymore…

  10. What about Cairngorm? They may not have a pretty brewery (down by the railway, opposite a call center and next to a timeshare resort as it is), but they do Trade Winds, which is supa-tasty. And a GBBF medal winner, iirc.

    English beer is all Carling, Danish beer is all Carlsberg, American beer is all Bud, Scottish beer is all Tennent’s…

  11. I am astonished there are still people (perhaps of a certain age) who think Scotland produces shit beer. If they are ignorant of that fact, they are ignorant about the world. Tennent’s has changed, no doubt about it. The stuff my father sold in the 50s and 60s in his shop in Lockerbie was far superior to what is made today and occasionally I happen upon a pub that does serve a decent pint of Tennent’s. They know how to serve it. Schiehallion is the best pilsner I have tasted in years and is made in Tillicoultry. If we did not brew good stuff my mate Roger Protz would not have included Scottish beer in his book 300 Beers to Try Before You Die. Get reading doubters!

  12. To Mark: Im definitely going to have to drink more real ale! Maybe when I am in Glasgow nxt you can educate me.

  13. A super post, Chris. I will make a concerted effort next time I am in Luvians to pick up something interesting. The only problem is that, whilst I have got the ‘acquired-taste’ stuff sorted on the whisky side, I have yet to have a good experience with beer. Can I just big up the Islay Ales, too, from just outside Bridgend? My dad is a fan, and they serve a lot of them at the fabulous Port Charlotte Hotel.

  14. I’m from Belgium and I loooove Scottish beer! My favourite brewery in Scotland is probably Fyne Ales, mostly for their excellent Avalanche (but heir other beers are fab too!). Each time I come to Scotland I always try to sample new ones and am rarely disappointed. Love the Clachaig too! (Just for your information, I tried to go and visit the Atlas Brewery in Kinlochleven in October, but they have now moved production to Orkney…)

    I even wrote about the common wrong perception of British/Scottish beer in Belgium on my beerblog last year :


  15. @Neil – I didn’t know about that book but will need to get myself a copy asap!

    @Chris – We can pay a visit to the Bon Accord.

    I’ve just had a Bitter & Twisted (which states on the bottle that it was the WBA Best Ale in the World in 2007) and following it up with a Dark Island.

  16. Chris: Give us a call when you’re planning to come over. We’ll introduce to Paul at the Bon Accord and let you work your way down his blackboard (Not a euphemism for anything!)

  17. I noticed the other day that Oddbins have a few of the Fyne Ales in stock now. Sadly no Avalanche but I picked up another couple which are superb.

    Neil, got that book in the post today. Thanks for the recommendation. That’s something I’ll be working my way through.

  18. Good rant Chris!
    Looking forward to Black Isles over the New Year in Edinburgh.

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