Drinking in Edinburgh: An #EBBC13 roundup

First beers of the weekend in the
Red Squirrel, which became a regular haunt
Last weekend was spent at the beer bloggers conference in Edinburgh. We had all manner of interesting sessions to attend and certainly no shortage of beer. (I tried 65 new beers over the three days!) But it wasn't just a chance to score free beer, there was also some serious ideas sharing going on too.A number of people have posted some of their thoughts, here are some of my own  
(and I'll try not to make it seem like a beer diary!*).

Robert and Craig consider which beer is best in the Bow Bar
One of the highlights of such an event for me is to be able to meet up with friends old and new and "talk shop". We're in a room where everyone understands the language of beer, to such an extent that we're no longer really aware that there is a fair amount of jargon used in beer writing. Susanne reminded us that we need to be mindful that our audience aren't all beer geeks like the rest of us and that we should reflect that in our writing. Perhaps one of the reasons wine has grown its market share so rapidly is that despite being a highly technical subject, none of that is put on the bottle, whereas therecan be a tendency for "craft beer to sound like a chemistry experiment" (Garret Oliver) with IBUs, EBCs, etc. 

Matt from Pilgrim and Progress and Beer Norway's Christer
discussing the finer points of beer rating at Stewart's
But at the same time, we shouldn't talk down to our audience. In all likelihood they know more than us, certainly their palate could be more experienced than ours. Try to find the similarities between beer and other beverages to give people a reference point. Never assume that a beer is "too much" for someone as we have "no idea what they can handle" (Garret Oliver outlining how he'll take whatever beers he fancies to a beer tasting because unless someone has a chance to try something, how do we know whether they like it or not?)

JohnMartin presents...The Shilling System
We also had a great session on the history of Scottish beer from John Martin (Scottish Brewing Archive Association), especially they fairly confusing shilling system and discussions in similarities between Scottish beer and continental brewing styles among other juicy tidbits. Who knew that the first lager brewer in the UK was John Muir in Scotland? Tax protests aren't a new thing either; long before the beer duty escalator the treaty of the union was delayed due to the English trying to impose a malt tax on the Scots and later 9 people died in the riots that ensued following a rise in malt duty.

The Shilling System Today
Designation Name Strength
60/- Light <3.5 Belhaven
70/- Heavy 3.5-4.0 Tinpot
80/- Export 4.0-5.5 Stewart
90/- Wee Heavy >5.5 Luckie

Wouldn't mind a fireplace like this
at home - Edinburgh council chambers
Edinburgh has some fantastic buildings both old - from the vaulted ceilings of our conference venue, the Ghillie Dhu and the wood panelled interior of the old council chambers to the brand spanking new Stewart's brewery that we had a chance to visit on the Friday night. Our hosts Jo and Steve Stewart's enthusiasm really reflects their position in the vanguard in the newly emerging Scottish craft brewing sector. I see new breweries opening up on an almost weekly basis...now if only Northern Ireland could get a few new breweries open up...

Reuben enjoying a Brodies in Cask and Barrel Southside.
Pubs too are not in short supply. I'd been in a number during last year's Edinburgh Independents Beer Festival but the shabby chic of theHanging Bat and the old school polished wood and mirrors plus half island bar of the Cask and Barrel southside were particular highlights this year. See Robert's Beer Lens blog for some better (i.e. not taken on a phone!) examples.

As an aside, Edinburgh seems to be trying to compete for the most unusual toilet accessories. The Hanging Bat has half keg sinks and the urinals in the Ghillie Dhu... well see for yourself (right).

Mr Oliver enjoying a self-poured Pilsner
Some tips for reaching a wider audience include using Pinterest and Instagram as a lot of people are visually stimulated. We need to write for our audiences but first and foremost we should make ourselves happy. I'll leave you with another Garret Oliver quote "if you aren't making people happy you're doing everything wrong and for all the wrong reasons". Something to bear in mind whether a brewer or a blogger.

Massive thanks to everyone who presented sessions, donated beer, organised food or muled beer for me over the weekend, much appreciated. Fab work once again from the conference organisers, for another conference summary you could do worse than zephyr adventure's own thoughts on the weekend.

*I may post a roundup of the very enjoyable pre-conference pub crawl pub amble and evening activties if I feel like it, though I didn't really take many pictures, ratebeer tells of the many fantastic beers enjoyed anyway.


  1. Sounds like you had a ball Steve

    1. The whole event just seemed to flow together this year, with the majority of the sessions with a Scottish focus. There were less beers this year actually at the conference (no night of many beers) but the pubs in the local area more than made up for this.

      Hopefully you can join us (wherever it may be) next year!

  2. That fella in the Beoir T-Shirt is really good looking!

  3. Great round up! Your wrap of the pub crawl would likely be just as amusing but sometimes life is about living and not about blogging.


    1. exactly, its a recommended route though, some spectacular drinking venues