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March 16, 2011 / Alex Robertson

Brewdog Edinburgh : Opening night at a bar that hasn’t opened yet

On Tuesday night myself and @Maniacyak decided to head out and check out the soft launch of the new BrewDog bar in Edinburgh. The main launch is next Tuesday. Its located here . This review covers my thoughts on pretty much everything I remember experiencing. I’m really keen to hear your thoughts on twitter or in the comments.

Tweet Exclusive

So how did we hear about this? Why from a couple of tweets on twitter of course!

I arrived on time and ordered some Punk Monk on draft – 5.4% ABV. A deliciously Belgian tasting Punk IPA variation.

Pint of Punk IPA, a beer mat and my Giro Atmos Helmet

Ian (@Maniacyak) meanwhile was wandering the old town as he’d realised he had no idea where the new BrewDog Bar was! I had no signal (more later) so he was furiously Googling to find the location.

When he finally figured out where the Cowgate was we met up with some other twitter fiends and started to absorb some atmosphere and more importantly the beer! More on that later!

Location, location, location

We started discussing the location. I asked the bargirl (who turned out to be the project manager for the bar) who made the final decision and it came down to the top guys at BrewDog, James and Martin. Why the discussion?

Well the Cowgate is notorious for being a bit of a student/cheap night out spot. There are lots of dodgy bars and student halls with people in golfing attire wandering around. The BrewDog Bar itself used to be a delightfully awful place called Chasers which was possibly had the biggest bounce rate of any bar in Edinburgh.  People I’d spoken to had suggested it would have been better off  in Leith/Stockbridge/Bruntsfield/Morningside/Royal Mile.

What’s my analysis?

This is a genius location. Why? Well for a start the location was probably cheaper – and for a relatively new company, who by their own admission are not that cash rich, this location probably provided value for money. Next up is their target market. I would start to define it as young professionals, older students and beer connoisseurs  who are slightly more to the indie side of cool. Where do these people live and probably work? Old town and the west end. The location is near many bus routes and the station (as the crow flies) and is also near the regular hangouts of the target market – The University, Grassmarket, Royal Mile and Illegal Jacks. Its also within 15-20 minutes walk of Marchmont, Bruntsfield, Newington, Fountainbridge and Toll Cross.

Many beers available from the BrewDog Casks.

Why wouldn’t it work elsewhere though? Well in my massively biased opinion, Stockbridge is really ruled by the yuppies who want brunch and babies not strong beer and industrial stools (pardon the pun). Leith is a bit too hip and cool nowadays, more about the upper end bars and restaurants for the weekend and not about weeknight drinking. Its also miles away (Old towner!). Bruntsfield/Morningside would have been probably OK, the right clientèle however perhaps the wrong atmosphere for BrewDog? Bars up that end of town are more about a quiet night in with an IPA… I’d love to hear others opinions on the location of course (go for comments or shout at me on twitter)!

Beer O’Clock

On to the beer. They had an ample selection of their own beers on draught (~£3.50) and a selection of draught guest ales (1/2 pint for £2.50!!) which were all quite strong but also imported, one was a coffee beer than Maniacyak was drinking like it contained the elixir of youth. Among the guests was one of my all time favourite strong beers – Flying Dog Raging Bitch.  A wonderful IPA with a Belgian kick. Not dissimilar to punk monk but with a few extra % ABV! They also had more bottles than you can shake a stick at (your arm would be very tired at any rate) and some top shelf whisky and vodka, soft drinks and coffee etc. Interestingly – a bottle of Raging bitch was £4.50 for 330mls and the draught was £2.50 for ~ 284mls. So it’s clearly worth checking out the guest beers for a bit of a deal!

The beer tasted amazing. Which for a bar that has just launched is a good job as it usually takes a bit of time for that “new line” taste to disappear… Perhaps some extensive stock tasting before opening?

Free pizza was hoovered up at some point. It was great pizza and would be a welcome snack for a group. Other food available included a  meat and cheese board that I’m keen to try out.


Décor is industrial finish with stools, low and high tables, quiet music an overall great atmosphere.

Décor, Atmosphere, Cash Only and Other bits…

The industrial finish was in keeping with the brand, the stools were pleasantly comfortable and the large number of tables and layout make it comfortable and adaptable whether you’re 2 people having a pint or a group of 5-10 sitting together having a night out.  Clearly designed by people who drink beer with friends a lot!

Cash only on the first night

As with any new venture there was a few teething problems. It was a cash only bar which was helpfully displayed by the sign behind the counter. You can just see the stoat holding a bottle of their strongest beer (52%).

The staff were really friendly and chatty, although I think some of them are temporary (the project manager and another chap who is heading up to manage the Aberdeen bar soon).

The bar was pretty busy but it was easy and fast to get served. Most of the people there looked a bit like the guys I was with, youngish, professionalish, up for a beer and laugh.

At one point a pub golf team wandered in – obviously on a crawl up the Cowgate. They asked for a vodka mixer and left when told the price. They were slow clapped out by most of us. It was quite the highlight of the night!

Signal was a bit of an issue. I could get some by the window but in particular my 3g was at best dodgy. However Wifi is on its way I am reliably informed which will keep foursquare, gowalla and twitter users happy.

This sort of digital chatter is essential for this enterprise and I hope they encourage it!

Bathrooms (I only checked out the gents) were industrial, clean but also fairly small. If you’re checking yourself out in the mirror make sure you look out for getting hit in the back by the door when it opens.

£3.50 a PINT?

The prices were very reasonable but I’m sure that some will boke (happy @andrewburnett ?) at the more expensive beers – so here’s a tip – don’t drink them. £2.50 for half a pint of import draught – Deal.

Epilogue – Get the beers in!

So – will I be returning to the BrewDog Edinburgh Bar? Try and stop me! It was a great experience. Great beer, good atmosphere and as it gains “experience” and a regular set of drinkers it’ll start to gain a more defined character of its own.  I suppose one comment to make is that everything worked. Its been designed by people who know beer and know their audience. They have listened and learned from their experience in Aberdeen and have created a formula that will get people excited and more importantly, buying beers.

Lets just hope they’ve employed some bouncers to keep the drunken madmen out at the weekends!


Support Edinburgh Twestival by buying tickets or donating here:

End of the pint - End of the night?




Leave a Comment
  1. Andrew Burnett / Mar 17 2011 11:47 am

    Grand write up Alex!

    Will definitely be checking it out, could well become my local…

    Just one thing, it’s “boke” not “boak” 😉

    • Alex Robertson / Mar 17 2011 12:17 pm

      Fixed Mr Burnett. Let me know if you fancy checking it out after work some time next week.

  2. Bruno / Mar 17 2011 3:33 pm

    sounds awesome, gonna try it soon. also, a great beer pub LITERALLY 200 steps from home is a win 🙂

  3. Ian Prise / Mar 18 2011 6:27 pm

    Great review. Been a regular patron at Brewdog bar Aberdeen since it opened. It is a new style of drinking experience. I’ve turned into a complete beer ticker, making notes of every different beer I’ve drank. I’ve tasted over 50 different beers, most of which have been on keg, since Hogmanay.

    If you like to try new, quality, craft beers, this place will keep you coming back for more.

    • Alex Robertson / Mar 18 2011 6:29 pm

      Thanks for the positive comments! Excited about my next trip down there.

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