After a much needed bacon roll and orange juice (thanks Greggs!), I was stood on Union Street sheltering from the rain under the Music Hall entrance, stalking my first pub of the day from across the road! I was glad to see the door edging open at exactly 10am.
|Stalking the pub from across the road .....|
698. Grill, Aberdeen
Always nice to visit a Heritage pub, this pub's not really changed since 1926 and you could feel the history in the bright and friendly one roomer. The jolly landlady was immediately welcoming, and the good thing about being in an empty pub, you often get to talk to people unlike on a busier evening/afternoon. A few interesting ales were on, so I went for an Orkney Red MacGregor, keeping my record of a different Scottish Microbrewery in each pub of my trip. It was perfect hair of the dog, and I could immediately feel the BRAPA blood coursing through my veins again! I explained my 'challenge' to the landlady who seemed to think it was an organised thing and did she need to stamp something to prove I'd been! (this certainly got me thinking). She showed me the amazing display of whiskies, the most expensive of which was £110 a shot so I said I'd stick to real ale. A couple of locals came in and soon we were happily chatting about the weather, T in the Park, Royal Baby photos and other Aberdeen boozers. I got landlady to 'red pen' the GBG entry (i.e. use a highlighter pen) and I left feeling uplifted, well and relaxed after a couple of dodgy experiences late on Thursday.
|The Grill - proper old institution of a pub on the main Union Street drag|
699. Prince of Wales, Aberdeen
I'd heard good things from everyone I spoke to, and just in the pedestrianised shopping precint, I found it tucked down a side street. It wasn't dingy, but it had a delightfully dark oak wood feel and a really long bar counter with one of the best ale ranges I'd seen so far - I went for a Cromarty "hit the lip", and it did - a lovely light hoppy ale - I knew this brewery from my trip to Inverness in 2013 and am very impressed. It was surprisingly busy, but most people were drinking coffee and the Scottish breakfasts (with added haggis, black pudding and heavy potato thing) looked very intriguing. I think most people had spent half an hour shopping and came into the pub breathing heavily as though they'd been shopping all day. An old couple sat near me, she had coffee but he went for some awful looking Tennants Lager so I made sure I gave him a disappointed look. I felt like I could fall asleep again in the warmth and the gloom so decided to take action and make today more interesting....
|Great beer range, great darkness, very impressed by PoW|
Yes, it was true - we'd only just reached 11am, and only two pubs to do meant completing my challenge would be far too easy, not to mention bringing up the 700. So on the advice of Untappd friend and all round good guy Rob Doyle, I sought out a modern bar called CASC (Cigars, Ale, Scotch and Coffee) hidden down a side street.....
It'd be hard to call it a pre-emptive tick as they deliberately do non-handpulled ale in favour of the less living, fizzer keg product. Never mind, I'm open minded and had the time to experience all Aberdeen had to offer. It was certainly a quirky place, and the young barmaid with lip piercing, on realising I'd never been here before, explained how it worked i,e, pick a beer from the blackboard and drink it! Meanwhile, the main barman messed around with hundreds of cigar packets. My initial beer choice was a Scottish one but it had just gone, so I had a Celt Experience "Yes Way!", a Welsh beer thus breaking my Scottish microbrewery record. The place felt a bit like a cafe but had a pleasant hubbub, and a hairy tattooed Scot (possibly called Russell) was the only other customer. Beer was very nice flavoured, would have been amazing if still and room temperature but I know what I was letting myself in for. Barmaid wished me a nice rest of the day, and I was on my way!
|An "off the wall" Untappd recommendation had me errm, staring at this wall (of beers)!|
We'd just reached the 12 noon mark, the doors of the landmark Brewdog house had just opened and I thought "whilst I'm on the experimental trail, it'd be wrong not to come here", let's face it, Punk IPA is one of the all time ground-breaking brews, superb, cask or not. The barman was a friendly chap who really knew his stuff, offering me tasters but I said I believed in committing yourself to a beer so I went for a "Deaf Mermaid", at 5.4% one of their weaker efforts! He told me it was a prototype beer when they were experimenting but it proved so popular, they did it for real. Unlike last night, this place was empty and I got the full benefit. It even has a degree of comfort I've never witnessed in the Leeds version of Brewdog. The music was great too, first song being "Sell Out" by Reel Big Fish, almost felt like the BRAPA gods were making fun of me. A few more solitary men came in for lunchtime pints, reading papers or tapping away on iPads. I had a final protest bite of my Gregg's sandwich, guessing I'm the first person to eat a Gregg's in Brewdog - it made me feel good. The toilets had the most amazing decor I'd ever seen, it reminded me of being in an episode of Trapdoor but if I was 'Berk', I wasn't feeling too 'Bony' after my Gregg's (sorry I'll stop now). My beer impressed me less as it went down, seemed to bottom out into something approaching lager. Interestingly, the GBG suggests Brewdog MAY do cask in the future, If they do (and it's a big if at this stage in history), it'll be a GBG shoe-in I'm sure. 30 years to hope for it.
|The first customer of the day at the flagship Brewdog bar.|
It hadn't been purposeful to bring up the '700' in a Wetherspoons, especially one that used to be a Clydesdale Bank Headquarters but never mind! This was a far superior 'Spoons to the Justice Mill though, a fantastic old Granite building full of pillars, it certainly felt like a bank from old Victorian times. There was a bit of a Friday lunchtime surge on and getting served was tricky, but my second Orkney of the day "Dark Island" was fantastic and perhaps even better than the earlier Red Macgregor. In all the mayhem of being served, I forgot to use my new 'Spoonie vouchers - again! The air conditioning was way too cold, which did in fact reminded of the modern Clydesdale Bank. When I came back from the loo, two old locals called Les & Jan(?) who may have been of Scandinavian origin were sat at my table - it was that busy, and they were the kind of tables you could share. Les said MY accent was "strong(!)" as I explained BRAPA and he actually achieved a BRAPA first by REFUSING to tick off the pub in the GBG - "your challenge, you do it!" was his attitude as though I was asking too much. But he was an awkward sod. But as time went on, we got on a bit better and I gratefully left the building (as Peter Taylor would say) with a hearty handshake and good luck for the future.
|Superb Granite former CB HQ Wetherspoons!|
701. Old Blackfriars, Aberdeen
And after all that chatting, suddenly time was a bit tight as I made my way to the last pub in the GBG for Aberdeen. Luckily, it was just around the corner and not that far from the railway station. Like a few others on my trip, you entered this down some steps which was slightly underground. It had a slight touristy feel but with stone walls and ancient wood, it had quite a nice atmosphere and I think there was a bit of food going on. My main aim was to drink fairly quickly, in case I got lost in Aberdeen Station, so my trip came full circle as I ordered an Inveralmond ale, "Ossian" which is another favourite going back to my Inverness trip - light, golden, highly drinkable. There was a ground level area higher up where the loos were and more people were eating, but no more contoversy or weird encounters happened which was just as well.
|More underground drinking at Old Blackfriars - and the challenge is complete!|
So there we had it, the journey went well. I slept all the way to Edinburgh, woke up for lunch and a cup of tea, and only had to give my spare seat up at Darlo despite how busy it was, and even then, the old Colonel who was into sailing was quite apologetic, as it wouldn't have happened if a sweaty American and his daughter had sat where they were supposed to, or at least moved for him!
A great trip though, but was slightly regretting the fact I had a Saturday BRAPA outing involving more new ticks as I was exhausted, Early night was needed, report from Saturday coming up soon.