Home > Beer > Old Town/New Town: Brewdog Edinburgh & The Oxford Bar

Old Town/New Town: Brewdog Edinburgh & The Oxford Bar

Kate and I spent our honeymoon in Scotland around the start of November.  We started with a couple of nights in Edinburgh, which meant we only really had one day to explore, although even that was in a bit of a sleepy, post-wedding daze.

However, we did get to go to two bars outside the hotel: The Oxford Bar and Brewdog Edinburgh.  I suppose they’re two extremes of drinking in Edinburgh: the Old Town and The New Town, which would have been a suitably poetic analogy except that the new bar is in the Old Town and vice versa.

Taking the new pub in the Old Town first, we wandered downhill from the Royal Mile into the belly of Edinburgh, the Cowgate.  The Cowgate was historically where cows were droved into Edinburgh for sale and was a slum.  Nowadays it still feels a bit like you’re in the undercity.  The Brewdog bar was a welcome sight, with its stripped back decor and exciting beer boards.  On this Sunday lunchtime it was quiet in terms of people, although the metal coming through the speakers was noisy enough.

Kate and I, with the counsel of barman Hoss, enjoyed a good pizza and olives as well as a few beers, including a Stone/Pizza Port Carlsbad/Green Flash Highway 78 (a “Scotch ale”) but the standout was Ballast Point Sculpin IPA: a really, really nice big, fruity IPA, which has deservedly been getting a bit of attention since it’s been available in the UK.

We could have stayed a little longer, but in order to actually explore the city in a state of semi-consciousness, we moved on, after buying a couple of rarities to enjoy later.  After wandering around for a bit more we ended up in the New Town and in The Oxford Bar, which Kate had wanted to visit for some time due to its appearance in Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.

When you go into the Oxford Bar it’s tiny and packed with people.  Twenty people would probably fill the front room, and there were around that many in this Sunday afternoon.  Kate and I ordered a Deuchars IPA (in tribute to Ian Rankin) and a Williams Black.  Deuchars is Deuchars is Deuchars: a multi-award winning, bland, bready thing that teases the possibility of hops but never delivers, that I’m sure excited my naive palate around a decade ago.  The Williams Black was, by contrast, too challenging: altogether too liquoricey for an afternoon, more suited to the end of the evening maybe.

But The Oxford Bar has such an atmosphere: the barman held court in friendly chatter with the locals and strangers.  The quiet Brewdog bar of a few hours earlier was exciting in its design and the range of incredible beers it had to offer, as well as the knowledge of the staff.  The Oxford was a place I’d happily stay for ages, for reasons other than the beer. Much like Scotland.

  1. December 2, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Deuchars has never excited my palate!
    Look forward to hearing the rest of your adventures in Scotland.

    • December 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      How did it win so many awards back in the day? Was it more hoppy or have tastes just changed?

      Ta, should have a couple more in me on Oban and Glasgow, if I actually get round to writing them.


      • December 4, 2011 at 7:58 am

        We’ve been asking the same question. Some of these golden beers really did seem like a breath of fresh air in the nineties but, back then, their main competition was John Smith’s, Toby Bitter, Worthington Smooth, etc.. Being pale and trendy got them space at the bar in places which were otherwise too cool for “boring brown bitter”. Pretty sure they’ve not changed but that the competition has put them in the shade.

        Worth noting, btw, that the landlord of the Oxford is on Twitter, after being persuaded by Ian Rankin. Don’t think he tweets much, though.

      • December 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

        When it won awards it was a good beer with a satisfying bitterness and good aroma. I am convinced they have cut the bitterness to make it more saleable. But the brewery deny it. Only one of us can prove it one way or the other.

        I love the Oxford Bar. Its utter plainness is endearing. So different from the ornate Victorian gin palaces Edinburgh is famous for, which I also love.

  2. December 2, 2011 at 9:47 am

    that’s cool. Love Edinburgh – but never been to the Oxford? Where is it, Nick? Looks like a little find there!

  3. December 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Glad you enjoyed Edinburgh Nick. Hopefully next time you can stay a bit longer and get to some of the other great pubs up here – but you’ve ticked a couple off already!

    Leigh – the Oxford is on Young St, one back from George St in the city centre. Just up the road is the Cambridge – good for burgers…

  4. steve
    December 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    if you managed to get a decent pint in oban please do blog about since oban inn and tartan arms have gone good beer got rather hard to find (still a lovely pub or 2 but need up their game beer wise)

  5. December 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Cheers guys…on the list it goes. And the burgers.

  1. May 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: