Topping Out with Edinburgh's Newest Brewery

Edinburgh used to be one of the biggest brewing cities in the country, but over the years this has been whittled away by fires, mergers, closures and bankruptcies. Today there are only a handful remianing but last week's Edinburgh Independents Beer Festival saw the launch of a new concern at Cloisters.

If you've never been to Cloisters then you must make it a priority, a pub in a converted church replete with spiral staircase with a range of cask beers from Scotland and further afield. An ideal location to host a brewery launch...except on the hottest ever day in Scotland. Arriving the next day the staff are still shattered from the night before but still take the time to chat to us and text the next bar on our route to find out what's on - now that's service.

For the launch seems to have been well attended for Top Out* with standing room only, but myself and Reuben popped in the next day to sample the two cask beers. I was immediately attracted by the stand out oversized pump clips shouting at me with their elegant design. I listened and bought a half of each.

Staple Pale Ale (4%) was first up a decent session quaffer with apricots on the nose, sweet with mangoes and a hint of butterscotch that doesn't detract from the overall beer and a dry finish that leaves the tongue gasping for more.

Even better is the Smoked porter weighing in at 5.6%, the level of which is spot on, with arich bacon savoury character on the nose, reappearing again in the finish as a dry umami note cavorting with chocolate, oak and roast barley. It finishes fairly dry, but with enough residual sweetness to balance. This would be fantastic with all kinds of food.

After an afternoon visiting some other pubs, we split a bottle of Dark Abbey, the 8.9% bruiser of a Belgian strong ale. However this is unlike any dubbel inspired ale I've ever tried (I actually liked it for starters!) Rich coffee and yeast esters dance on the nose. Its a hazy ruby brown with rich, demerara, plum sweetness,finishing with what seems to be a trademark dryness- possibly a more voracious yeast strain eating up as much sugar as possible. At £6 a bottle its more expensive than some comparable Belgian's but I enjoyed it much more.

With these beers Edinburgh goes some way to regaining the status it once enjoyed.

Top Out

*Top Out are based out in Loanhead as are Edinburgh Stalwarts Stewart - 9 years old this year (whose new premises we had the good fortune to visit during the beer blogger's conference).

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