This weekend past saw the 2018 Scottish Beer Awards take place in Edinburgh, an event celebrating the best Scottish beer has to offer - and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. Now in its third year, the award ceremony was held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on 27th September 2018, and I was invited along by Edinburgh based PR agency KD Media to cover the event as a blogger. I was among the near 400 other beer fanatics who descended on the Edinburgh to find out the results of the 296 beers that had been blind tasted back in February.
Upon arrival at the Corn Exchange, we were treated to a drinks reception featuring beers from Harviestoun Brewery, gin & tonics and some highly entertaining live music. After some brief mingling, it was time to take our seats for the evening. My table consisted of a good mixture of people; ranging from fellow bloggers, beer industry people, various Scottish professionals and Gayle Mackail from KD Media - our table host. I must admit, that prior to the evening, I was slightly nervous that I might feel slightly out of place amongst some of the other guests, but everyone was incredibly welcoming and interested to hear my story. It didn't take me long to relax and soon the conversation (and beers) were flowing! It was a great, interesting mix of people and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their stories and thoughts on the industry.
It was soon time for the food! We were treated to a rather fantastic three course. beer paired, gourmet meal - and it did not disappoint! The starter was twice baked Isle of Mull cheddar soufflé, pickled grapes, spiced tomato salsa and celery which was paired with Chimera (IPA, 5.9% ABV) by Drygate Brewing Co. Whilst perhaps maybe being slightly too "cheesy" for my taste, it was enjoyable and worked well with the refreshing, citrus IPA.
The main course consisted of venison and Stornoway black pudding meatballs, creamed potatoes with horseradish from the Isle of Bute, charred tender stem broccoli and crispy fried onions. This was paired with Jet Black Heart (Milk Stout, 4.7% ABV) by BrewDog. The main course was incredible! The meatballs, in particular, were delicious...I could have happily had a second helping! The Jet Black Heart worked brilliantly with them also - it really is one of BrewDog's best core beers.
And finally for dessert, we were served raspberry cranachan with whisky infused berries, whipped cream folded with toasted oatmeal. There was only really one beer this dessert could be served with - Cranachan Killer (Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV) by Fierce Beer of course! Sadly my appetite got the best of me, and the desert was the only course I remembered to photograph...check out how fantastic it looks below! Rest assured that it did actually taste as good as it looked, and of course it was made even better with the beer.
The award ceremony was again hosted by Hardeep Singh Kohli, who was back for the third year running, and Catriona Shearer who joined him in presenting duties for the second year in a row. From the off, it was clear why the pair had returned to host - they are an extremely charismatic pairing, with great chemistry, constantly bouncing jokes off each other throughout the evening...it's safe to say I laughed a lot! Their enthusiasm for the industry was there for all to see, and it really makes a difference when the hosts have a passion for what they are presenting.
There was a total of 49 awards to get through on the night and each category was contended by some amazing breweries, brewers and beers.
Edinburgh's Stewart Brewing took home the main award of the night, winning Scottish Brewery of The Year following a phenomenal business year for them. I must confess, however, that Stewart Brewing are a brewery that wasn't really on my radar this year, but I guess that this has made me sit up and take notice, as I am clearly missing out on some great beer! I did actually feature some of their beers way back when I started this blog, so I know there is quality there. Stewart Brewing also picked up the Growth Business of The Year award alongside a silver and bronze medal in the flavour categories.
Beer of The Year went to Belhaven Brewery and their Twisted Grapefruit IPA. I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised by Belhaven claiming this award. Although, again, this another beer that has passed me by this year so I can't be too quick to pass judgement. I am pretty sure it is readily available in the supermarket, so I'll be sure to check it out and share my thoughts.
The big award of the night may have stayed in Edinburgh, however, it was Aberdeen based breweries that really shone on the evening, taking home a combined total of TWELVE awards in the flavour categories. The big winners on the night were Fierce Beer who picked up an amazing FOUR gold awards, taking home the gold in the Best Barrel Aged Beer (Very Big Moose), Best Amplified Beer (Very Big Moose), Best Porter (Dirty Sanchez), Best Sour Beer (Tangerine Tart) along with a silver medal for Split Shift in the Best IPA category. Beer giants BrewDog also enjoyed great success with a total of six awards, including gold and bronze in the Best IPA award for King of Eights and Hazy Jane respectively. A special shout out must also go to local favourites of mine, Brew Toon, who picked up bronze in the Best Lager/Pilsner award for their Weekend Hooker lager - an amazing achievement to round off a fantastic year for them. Aberdeenshire based Sixº North also picked up Beer Bar of The Year for their Glasgow location.
You can find full details of all the winners over on the awards website.
And with that, the evening was over. There was an official after party being held at Sixº North in Edinburgh, that was scheduled to go on until 3am. However, having indulged in quite a few of the beers on the table over the course of the evening, my judgement got the better of me, and I decided to call it a night and head to bed.
Overall, I had a thoroughly fantastic evening at the Scottish Beer Awards, and I can't thank Gayle and the team at KD Media enough for inviting me. Just being in the same room as some true Scottish beer royalty was an incredible experience, and one I feel privileged to have been part of. Congratulations again to all the winners on the evening, especially those hailing from the North East - it really has been an amazing year of beer for Aberdeenshire.
I'm looking forward to next year already 🍻