on Saturday I found out about the Scottish beer festival that was taking place at the Hillsborought Hotel. I had only been in three or four times since it changed hands despite immediately noticing improvements. Given that I had arranged to meet Matty, it seemed like a good place for us to go.
I paid on the 52 - I was in a rush, and then again, an astonishing £2.20 for the 8 minute journey to Langesett Road on the tram. I hoped, having spent £4.00 just getting there, that this would be good! Arriving before Matty at gone half seven I opted to try one or two of the six Scottish real ales on offer on the bar. Island Hoping from Swannay Brewery was the first. To be honest, I suspect Swannay brewery is linked to Sinclairs who own Orkney Brewery - or the other way round. Either way, that and Loch Lomond Kessog a dark ale were both tried and were very palatable.
I walked into the room on the left to made to stand aside for the presentation of the haggis by the Alternative Burns Night company, with pipes and a Scotsman in a kilt reading the address to the haggis in perfect style, followed by whisky toasts and an instruction to sit down if you had a ticket for the haggis neeps and tatties. Mattt arrived shortly after and I got him a pint of the Tempest The Real Armadilo,. a pale hoppy beer from a reliable Scottish brewery.
As the food was served we were offered the chance to buy a ticket so I parted with a fiver for a bowl of delicious Haggis and trimmings, this after a quick chat with the legend in his own lycra that is Ron Clayton. We and Matty both had pints of the Fyne Ales Avalanche, always a favourite and went to stand in the conservatory. Alas this closes at 21.00 and with the pub already rammed the influx into the two rooms made us decide to leave for nearby hostelries. Outside at the back there was another stillaged bar so am guessing the Cromarty, Pilot and other beers had been available from there. A cracking event nonetheless.
Just down the road we went into what Ron claimed was the now "owned by Birkett" Wellington. James Birkett who as you may know owns the Blake and Sheaf View, had been linked with purchasing the pub for a while - assuming he has, there was no change when we went in, same staff, similar beer range and customers. Suits me fine. Me and Matty had pints of the Atlantic Pale and Green Arrow from Little Ale Cart, before moving onto pints of the Stars and Stripes from the same.
The pub was quite busy and warm and relaxing and the beer was distinctively ale-cartish. I can't see that many changes will be made by the new owner, apart from maybe increasing and changing the beer range, and I hope he doesn't repaint or radically change the interior because I actually quite like it.
From here I left Matty at the tram stop and walked on to Shakespeares for a pint of Celt Experience Llamass Harvest, a gooseberry sour, and a half of something pale and hoppy on cask. Chris B warned me that the sour was very much so - he wasn't wrong! It was a wonderfully sour, sharp, teeth chatterer which I loved immediately and which grew on me the more I drank.
Having initially struggled to find a seat I got sat near the door at the back and got chatting with Katie who was in late. I got another pint of the sour (I think...?) and a drink for her, before at last orders unwisely purchasing a pint of the Double Axe from Buxton, a whopping 10.1% IPA on keg. This was actually quite difficult to finish but mainly due to being full of haggis! Despite that, this was a perfect end to a fantastic night out.