Usually when OH and I go out we eat and I drink. Therefore, this weekend OH stated, with a toddler like determination, that he wanted to try some real ales and he wasn’t too fussed about food. Who was I to argue? So off we went and were publicly transported to Edinburgh, solely with beer in mind.
Our first port of call was The Advocate just off the Royal Mile (7 Hunter Square). It was relatively empty so we managed to get a seat without any difficulty and it wasn’t too hard to notice the rest of the clientele were tourists. Posters screaming out how good their haggis was adorned the walls so this confirmed their customer base . OH started off with a pint of Old Speckled Hen as he thought “Woo hoo, Old Speckled Hen on draught!”. Apparently it’s one of his favourites. I started slow and had half a cider because it was still early and I’m a lady (if you just spat on to your screen you know me too well!). OH told me the round was £7 something so not the cheapest of rounds #touristtrap.
From there we wandered up South Bridge and turned right on to West Nicholson Street where Usher’s of Edinburgh is to be found. The decor in Ushers is heavy on wood and as you descend down the stairs into the bar you get whiffs of creosote. The aroma is even stronger in the toilets but as OH pointed out, it’s better than the smell of piss.
We’ve visited Usher’s before and already knew it had an onsite microbrewery and therefore lots of choice. Again we weren’t disappointed. There was 20 pumps to choose from as well as a vast array of bottled ales. After sampling a few of the beers, OH chose one of their own, Smokey and the Bandit. I had a taste of it and it was like the last mouthful of cocoa that you forgot to drink earlier. Cold, chocolaty and a little bitter. OH, however, says it was nice and light, not a heavy potent beer that makes your mouth look like a cat’s ass but smooth and light and tasty – so there you have it. I had a pilsner called Sunburst from the Inveralmond Brewery (4.3%). It was so light and crisp it was like drinking water straight from a Scottish spring that had ran over some hops.
Leaving Usher’s behind (as it would have been too easy to rise to the challenge of trying every pump) we went outside and found it to be a bit dreich so ended up going straight into the next door bar, The Blind Poet. This bar had literary quotes on it’s walls and was full of leather couches and chairs. OH quickly decided on a pint of Broughton’s Dark Dunter (4.8%) and announced it was smokey and chocolaty and had more body than his last pint and went down a treat. (you will notice Smokey and the Bandit wasn’t described as smokey). I had Camden’s Gentleman’s Wit a 4.3% Belgium Witbier, which had a lovely refreshing lemony tang to it. Unfortunately we also decided to eat in this bar as there was a basket menu and I thought it would be a good idea to get something in our stomachs before we continued our ale quest. Big mistake. It was a basket menu and I thought cheap and cheerful but no – just cheap and even then really bad value. Enough said.
You know when you have went for a run in the car to have a picnic and can’t find some place lovely to stop so end up parking somewhere that’s just okay so you can eat – you then finish your picnic and drive off around the corner only to find a spot with the most amazing view in the world? Well that’s exactly what happened to us as we left The Blind Poet and happened upon The Potting Shed on Potterrow. It was fabulous. The decor was just as if you had wandered into a potting shed. The light fittings were pots, buckets or sieves, there were plants, chicken wire and spades everywhere and the food was served on terracotta saucers (I’m going back so will tell you if the food is any good later). There was also a blackboard with all the on-tap drinks they had on offer. Again, after a few samples, OH settled on a pint of Le Chien Noir (5.5%) from Carbon Smith Brewing – apparently a rich and darkly roasted stout but on asking OH just now he can’t remember much about it….and there was me laughing at OH and now I discover I can’t remember what I had – I know it had either white or lie in the title and was supposed to have a hint of banana to it but it was rank – the bananas must have been old and brown. It looked like dirty dishwater after you’ve had a curry and was heavy going. I couldn’t finish it. Next time I’m having samples first too!
…to be continued but ***spoiler alert**** we went on to cocktails next.