The recent COP26 in Glasgow was a good opportunity to tick off every territorial UK police force as they all seemed to be here. It would be fitting if there was 26 of them but we’ll have to wait for COP45 to match up. If we all make it that far.
Pub ticking is not necessarily a low carbon activity and beer drinking itself causes a high level of emissions, in my household anyway. But Brian and I are doing our bit. Taking advantage of 2 for 1 offer on Scotrail with our senior ticking railcard and free bus travel anywhere in Scotland, our mission to re-complete Tayside cost only £5.80 apiece. Which was cheaper than some of the beer we sampled.
Perth is an attractive city where the town centre still felt busy and well used even on a Wednesday afternoon, which is far from typical. It has a good mix of old, traditional pubs, modern crafty places and plenty of decent cask beer- drinking it on a midweek afternoon is a good test in many a location.
Our starting point was the Craft Beer Bottle Shop, though you wouldn’t initially realise it had a cosy room at the back.
The solitary handpump is generally only in service at weekends so it was a choice of four on the craft taps. Brian and I both went for the weakest from Glasshouse, which still weighed in at 5%. And it was definitely too early for Overtone’s maple and peanut butter stout at 12%.
It shares its premises with a nail bar, now a ubiquitous feature of our town centres, along with tanning salons, moneylenders and phone shops. Nails and Ales would have been a good name for it but probably wouldn’t have generated the same volume of hits on google for ‘Perth craft beer’. During lockdown the friendly owner started assembling his wall of beer.
As the Good Beer Guide listed Cullach Tap Room didn’t open till 3, we reverted to a familiar favourite, the Old Ship, a cosy pub tucked away from the high street. Here the Jarl was fresh and tasty – what a great beer it is when you get it newly tapped.
The frontage isn’t enhanced by the Christmas lights, bins and building site next door but inside is a warm, calm place to enjoy a drink just as pubs were always intended to be.
The Cullach is also welcoming but has a very different vibe, a bouncy young dog called Sonny and all beers on key keg. Maybe it attracts a young crowd after work but today it was raking in the grey pound soon after opening. It was more like Tails and Frails in here.
We tried all three of their own, the Tayside IPA of which was the pick of the bunch, plus an 8% from Wild Weather, for which the term chewy was coined.
The oldies (us oldies?) were all knocking back the beer and perhaps contemplating the Breakfast Pizza. The counter above registers each time the bar gets a like on Facebook. Modern ways eh?
Next we got the bus to Kinross to score the other new Guide entry, the Loch Leven Brewery Tap. Situated on the main road, the brewery itself is in a former public toilet. The taproom is a smart, modern addition.
Three of their own beers were on cask. As the buses are only every two hours we tried them all. King Slayer, the strongest at 5.2%, was our favourite.
Locals came in to fill their growlers, the sizeable outlay for which which proved a godsend to the brewery during periods of restrictions. Shake Some Action by the Flamin’ Groovies was our 1976 soundtrack.
The 45 minutes back in Perth before our train home was spent in another traditional pub, now called Dickens but once the John Moir, where the Strathbaan Eighty Bob was on good form.
All in all, a fine day out.