Dog Days of May

Things were getting desperate. May looked like being only the second single figure return of Good Beer Guide pubs of the decade.

Other well known bloggers were travelling the country notching tick after tick, flaunting their successes like jackdaws adorned with paste jewellery. Meanwhile I was trailing behind like an arthritic badger. All doom, no bar.

It was time to take action before the burning shame became unbearable and head to north-east Scotland, getting off the mark with a single at the Queen Vic in Aberdeen.

Dark wood; traditional gantry; a young barman with a cloth cap and beard; and four cask ales: this pub was really rather good. I had the Redcastle Crusader from Arbroath. a pleasant 4% Pale. Brian, a veteran of Aberdeen quaffing, stuck to the Landlord (the beer that is, I wouldn’t want you to think he self-adhered to the bloke behind the bar).

Heading north we skirted the village of Blackdog on the way to Brewdog. Not (yet) in the Good Beer Guide, the brewery has two bars. The Dog Tap had a single ‘live’ beer alongside the other offerings.

The 5AM Saint (5%) tasted well though was served on the cold side. The term ‘live’ seems more accessible than ‘cask’ to the unconverted even if Brewdog only use it to distance themselves from CAMRA.

The very Brewdog interior was doing a good trade.

The Overworks Tap on the same (large) complex featured Brewdog’s experimental sour beers. Five on keg, ranging from £8-£10.60 a pint.

My Punnet provided a huge, sharp fruit hit. Brian’s Pinyin used jasmine tea to create a more mellow flavour.

This is not us.

On an otherwise glorious day Banff was shrouded in haar. The Market Arms was packed but no one else seemed to be drinking the ice cold Landlord or playing purple pool.

In keeping with the canine theme of the day we finished at the Copper Dog in Craigellachie, a small village with two GBG entries, where the Windswept Session IPA (4.5%) was on very good form.

Double figures for May belatedly achieved and a smidgeon of honour was restored. All of which leaves 47 to go.

21 thoughts on “Dog Days of May

    1. Ha yes it’s hard enough as it is. Planning to do the one on IOM as I still need one in the 2017 Guide and it’s there, but will probably leave the two on Guernsey till next year. The micro at Felton, micro at Prudhoe and West Thornton are the three in Northumberland. The last one per cent is especially tricky this year. You are going great guns!


      1. I did those three last week, behind on write ups. A
        Felton opens at 6, not 5, and easily confused with an adjacent cafe but a corker (200 yards from the West Thornton gastro pub over the bridge !)

        Liked by 1 person

  1. “All doom, no bar.”

    (golf clap) 🙂

    “(the beer that is, I wouldn’t want you to think he self-adhered to the bloke behind the bar).”

    (golf clap) Two in a row!

    “This is not us.”

    How big are those flight glasses?

    And, were they playing “special rules” Battleship, whereby they “sink” one of the flight glasses every time they sink a ship. 😉

    “On an otherwise glorious day Banff was shrouded in haar.”

    For a second I thought you’d teleported to Canada! 🙂

    “All of which leaves 47 to go.”

    Not too shabby I’d say.


    PS – “a pleasant 4%”

    Capitalise that ‘a’, eh? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Usually escape your proof-reading rigours! Not sure about the whole going to a bar to play Battleships and drink mini-flight glasses thing. Dog Tap was queuing at the bar but Overworks just had those two lads when we were in.


  2. The memories of BrewDog and Aberdeen are still fresh in my mind from our tour and visit on Friday. Say what you want about BrewDog but when they go for something they don’t mess around. Although the sour program is really too young to evaluate at this point, their initial forays are promising. I preferred the tea-infused Pinyan myself. Whether sours will catch on in the UK is a different question. The crowd was pretty sparse when we visited as well, on a Friday evening no less.

    As much fun as we had in Aberdeen it’s hard to match a Pubmeister-led tour of some of Glasgow’s finest pubs. The hoppy goodness of a glorious Oakham Green Devil IPA on cask is a taste memory that will stay with me for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your tour sounds good fun. That curfew pic you posted seems odd. Aberdeen Council did introduce curfews but not at that time and think (not sure) they may have abandoned them. The term ‘social cleansing’ and the hours suggests a counter curfew sign?


  3. Queen Vic might be the best quality regular cask outlet in Aberdeen at present (barring possibly Aitchies).

    Zero chance of any of the local Brewdog outlets getting in the GBG in the forseeable future going by what I have been informed the local voting is like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brewdog splits opinion , which is partly their aim when it comes to Camra I suspect. I like some of their beers. The brewery is huge now and must make a significant contribution to the local economy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Their beers can be very good. The Birmingham branch may be an exception. As Pat reports from.Aberdeen they can be worryingly quiet, and virtually empty during the day compared with Stonegate/Spoons.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “Brian…stuck to the Landlord (the beer that is, I wouldn’t want you to think he self-adhered to the bloke behind the bar).”

    I’m a bit late looking at this – but what a great line – has to be the best pub blog joke of the month and possibly a contender for the year… 🙂

    Sparing myself from reading up on all the BrewDog site hypo-drivel – I’m guessing that ‘live’ means unpasturised beer that has still got live yeast in it (regardless of what container it’s in or how much CO2 has been added?)

    Impressive sea of yellowness on that up map, which begs the question (it may have been begged before but I haven’t seen it) how many times have the GBG visits been completed in a year and by whom?…

    Is there a GBG completions (premiership) league table…?

    I think I’m probably somewhere in the Wessex League Division One….


    1. Way too kind! I am not actually sure what Brewdog’s definition of ‘live’ is, so you may well be right. It’s not carbonated and may be cask conditioned. Ah, the complexities of doing the Good Beer Guide. I don’t know anyone who has done all 4,500 in a year- I would fear for their liver and sanity. My own approach is to do all the pubs in each edition that I haven’t been in (which normally means they haven’t ever previously been in the GBG), typically around 450 a year. There are quite a few people that take the same approach, including Martin, Simon and plenty of others not on social media.

      If you do that for long enough, it gradually gets more or less manageable. I have completed the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Guides and need one- on the Isle of Man- in the 2017 Guide. However it wasn’t until the 2015 edition that I managed it ‘in-year” i.e. finished it in 2015. A friend who I do it with routinely gets to within 1% of completion but hasn’t yet been to some distant outliers e.g, Scilly, Shetland etc. I have the advantage of a ten year start on Martin T and don’t know of anyone who has also achieved ‘in-year’ completion but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. There are lots of people who have been to more pubs but are not GBG completists. It’s only for fun of course even if its hard work and in many ways its more enjoyable when you have plenty to do within relatively easy reach so make the most of it, or better still, resist the completist mentality!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not at all – justly deserved.

        The pace of the serious tickers visits is breathtaking – never mind visiting them – I can’t even keep up with reading about them!

        Sage advice at the end there – which I will definitely be following (more achievable than roaming round the UK – for me at least!

        ….though never say never – when I get my mobility scooter….

        Liked by 1 person

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