I've been in Glasgow for a few days now and I thought I would post a little about my experiences. On my first full day I was able to meet up with some of my new homebrewing buddies that I had only met online through Jim's Beer Kit, a great resource for homebrewing in the UK. I was joined by JBK members who I have otherwise known as markbrannan, pantsmachine, and invalid_stout (Robbie). Turns out they really are real people and they are a good group of guys. We first went to the Beer Cafe, which wasn't exactly the type of pub I enjoy but it was a decent warm up. The beers were your classic beers added by a few others that I hadn't seen in the states, but no real microbreweries to speak of. That was fine, but I was glad when we went to Blackfriars just two blocks down. I liked this place a lot but forgot to take pictures. I'll go back.
Blackfriars was one of these places with a real bar and good taps. There were probably about 7 good looking beers, and some bland ones as well. I had the Williams Bros Golden, a beer that we don't see in the United States, and it's not one of their historic ales either. That was a nice drink, smooth, with a nice head. The more I drink Williams Bros the more impressed I am. I had a wonderful beer, Goldihops, by Kelburn Brewery, which was my favorite of the night. I also sampled the Inveralmond Lia Fail, which was a delicious malty smooth beer. I was also able to try a Williams Bros Fraoch from a bottle. Pantsmachine bought that for me because he read on this blog that I was interested in tasting the beer in its own homeland. Well, the beer is actually very different tasting than the one I've had before, it loses a lot of flavor and aroma through it's long trek to Portland, Oregon (although it still tastes good in Portland). The beer has a much, much stronger heather aroma. I can identify the heather aroma because I have made up four batches of heather ales now and when you boil the heather, it has a strong aroma in the brew kettle. The Fraoch in Scotland also has a much weedier type of flavor, which is present in the beer I had in Oregon, but was much stronger here. It's a bitterseetness which was quite pleasant. For fun I also sampled a Sierra Nevada Pale and a Sierra Nevada Torpedo (the other guys bought, I sipped it) and whoa, what a bummer, those beers have lost even more flavor in their transport. The Pale I could barely taste or smell, and the Torpedo's alcohol flavor had been heightened, but still tasted good enough. That was a great experience to have.
The next day I met up with a few other homebrewers from JBK. Two of them were Geoff and Owen, who are leading the upcoming homebrewing demo. Also present was Robbie again and Des who currently works with Williams Bros. We sampled loads of beer that I brought from Oregon, the list is here. I also added a Deschutes Abyss and a Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti to the list. We had a blast; the time disappeared very, very quickly and I'm afraid we all realized we were late getting home for our various reasons. So in a rush I left the gallery a little too messy (sorry Market Gallery, if you're reading!) and Owen forgot his keys. I believe the favorites of the night were the Hopworks Secession Black IPA (Cascadian Dark Ale) and the Laurelwood Organic Free Range Red. The guys actually liked most of the beer but those were clear standouts. I was glad Laurelwood was on the upper list because that's my favorite beer in Portland. Des left me a couple nice BrewDog beers that I'll try later. There is more to come, please stay in the loop by checking back.