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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!  http://t.co/vE6uBDPhttp://t.co/a2cZBKv

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!

@AlexDRobertson

Support Edinburgh Twestival by buying tickets or donating here: http://edinburgh.twestival.com/

End of the pint - End of the night?

 

February 10, 2011 / Alex Robertson

Its tough to become a Tough Guy!

Update: Donations have now closed but thanks to everyone who donated. If you feel the need to donate then please contact me for further details and I will let you know how to do so! Money will still be shared between charities as described!

Before I start let me say how grateful I am to everyone who has donated so far and if you haven’t then I hope you will think about it after reading this. Money goes to a good cause as seen in the blog here. I have also recorded a short audioboo about the fundraising aspect of this challenge so far. That can be found here and will be followed up with another Blog which will outline the fundraising response to various mediums and promotion methods. The basic idea was to get as many people as possible to donate £3 (the cost of a beer) to me. Videos explaining everything here!

I signed up for toughguy expecting a tough physical challenge. Alongside that I got, pardon the cliché, a tough mental challenge. Registration the night before consisted of signing a “death warrent” – signing away all our rights and their liability. This was going to be fun!

The day started with me feeling good about the race.  I felt rested and keen. Legs were fresh-ish and I was itching to get going. The atmosphere was electric and also quite. . .confused. Few people seemed to know exactly what was going on. If you’ve seen the tough guy website you might understand why!! The information is a mix of legend,  lies and half truths. After asking around, having our race numbers written on our faces with permanent marker we  were able to find our way to the start we were herded into the start pens for our starter class – Wetnecks. First timers. The more times you do Tough guy the further forward you get to start.

So unimpressed by the risk of serious injury I can't keep my eyes open

The excitement in the start pens was tangible. There was a rugby ball being booted around into the crowd, people rolling down hills in tractor tyres, rolling down steps and in our compound, having a final pee in the corner – adding a very …. interesting dimension to the overall “atmosphere”.

The start rolled up and we were off.

The full list of obstacles can be found here

The really hard thing was the constant wetness and cold. Every time you started to get a bit warmer you suddenly ended up jumping back into a pit of muddy, icy water – often up to your chest or fully submerging.
After about the first 2 obstacles of the Killing fields I’d lost feeling in my hands. My legs were already bleeding. and blessedly I didn’t even know what was going on with my feet.

The wetnecks before the start!

I don’t want to bore you with war stories but one which might entertain you is the Torture Chamber. An underground crawling space with wooden blocks to slow you down and bare electric wires hooked up to a car battery to speed you up!! I took a shock to the face and ended up underwater in a ditch running through the middle. It took about 1/2 an hour for my face to stop twitching!

So overall there was a number of moments when I was pretty downtrodden. A few twinges in my achilles made me hobble a few times but these were passing annoyances in the seemingly endless number of obstacles.

The camaraderie was immense at all points of the race. Everyone knuckling down and helping someone who slipped, shouting encouragement to each other in the water or in the dark tight fitting tunnels. I remember an enduring battle of being overtaken by and then re-overtaking a chap dressed as “Wheres Wally”. He looked less ticked off at the course than the people constantly shouting “Where’s your walking stick”!

Overall a fantastic experience. Mentally it was about keeping moving, never stopping and not going around any of the obsticles. I completed every single jump, climb, crawl and shock there was AND I didnt die.

It took 2 hours 13 minutes coming in somewhere just above 600th place. There were a good 1500 people who started before us so I think I did fairly well to overtake many of them in such a short course.

For those of you who read the last blog – I didn’t cry and I got my ass kicked by my friend Helen Mort who completed it in 2 hours 3 minutes. In my defence she is an experienced fell runner! Plus I think I look the most relaxed afterwards!

I have shredded shins elbows and hips. My shoulders were sore for a week and the histamine released by my body because of the cold made me itchy for about 3 days. In short – I loved the entire experience and am certainly going to do it again next year but next time with more training!

We’ve raised just over £500 so far and I’m keen to push this further so with just one day left until the end of fund-raising please donate just £3 to some really worthy charities HERE.

January 25, 2011 / Alex Robertson

Buy me a beer for charity

Stretching before a big race....

Will you buy me a beer for charity?

Want to know why? Interested in Micro-donations? Read on!

**UPDATE** You can see me on The Guardian website here: http://t.co/OYJ9dSm

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far. Please tell your friends and ask them to help me out!

This weekend I am doing the Tough Guy challenge and I’m going to raise some money for Charity. Hopefully £1000+ in 5 days. I’d really like you to help! Please read on or your can donate straight away here!

It’s billed as the safest most dangerous thing you can do in the UK. It’s a tough cross-country run then a very hardcore assault course. All at the end of January! More info here (Wikipedia) and here (official website) and below

All I’m asking is that as many people as possible make a minimum donation of the cost of a beer/wine/large soft drink. Specifically the cost of these in Edinburgh, lets call it £3.

Half goes to the Tough Guy charity’s H.A.W.K and half will go towards the charity I work for called Challenges Worldwide. This is specifically to fund improvements and some UI issues to our website. In turn this will help up focus our efforts on building economically, environmentally and socially sustainable business in developing countries. Any extra money will be put into a grant fund to support our volunteers fund raising efforts.

I am really keen to promote this sort of micro-donation as a great way to donate money to local charities. A small amount each week to different people can make a huge difference.

If everyone I know donated the price of a beer then were going to raise a heck of a lot for charity in a relatively short time!

Currently:  Facebook friends – 651, linkedin to – 155, Followers on Twitter – 408, Friends with no on-line presence – many.

Accounting for crossover and bots that’s still probably over 1000 people! At £3 each there could be a real impact here!

You can hear about the experience afterwards in this blog where I will tell you everything. This will include telling you if (when) I cried in fear of crawling underground and how many girls beat me. I’ll also discuss micro-donation and the feedback I received.

So, please donate the cost of a beer (£3) for some really worthwhile causes. Of course if you would like to donate more, then the charities will gladly accept it!

My own beer ration for the next two weeks has already gone straight into this fund. So please please give me the cost of a beer for charity! Lets make this amazing for the charities involved.

For those of you who don’t know Tough guy there is some barely decipherable but undeniably genius information here : http://www.toughguy.co.uk

For a slightly easier to understand version : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tough_guy

So – again. All I’m asking is a minimum donation of the cost of a beer. Specifically the cost of a beer in Edinburgh. Lets call it £3.

The Fund raising site is Tough guy’s own, non flashy and  simple to use service. It’s the easiest way to do fund raising to meet their code of conduct.

Thank you in advance.

Alex/@AlexDRobertson/@ChallengesWW

September 21, 2010 / Alex Robertson

All good things….

Some news…..

After a fantastic four months with the company I am sad to announce I am to leave my position at Sodash.

Despite loving working with Dan and Joe, I have been offered a place working with a company which I could not turn down. I will continue to work with Sodash and help them out whenever possible because I really believe it has huge applications in social media monitoring and engagement. Certainly I will miss using it daily!

As of next Monday I shall be starting a new job with an Edinburgh based company. I’ll post when I move but I want to get settled first! I’m very excited and am looking forward to applying what I’ve learnt in this time to the new job.

I couldnt find a picture of me riding into the sunset so heres a picture of me trying to ride along a beach…

Although I shall not be abandoning twitter and I shall still attend #EdCM when I can; I’d like to thank everyone from #EdCM that I’ve talked to over the last few months for all I’ve learnt about social media. Also everyone I follow on twitter for the links and banter.

I’d like to also thank Dan Winterstein and Joe Halliwell. They gave me a lot of freedom with this role and welcomed me into the company. I’ve learnt a huge amount and will miss working in an office with them.
The move from Sodash is very amicable. In fact Dan can be quoted as saying

“We are delighted to see the back of that son of a scurvy dog.”

Followed by a more heartfelt;

“It has been a pleasure to work with Alex. He did a great job at Sodash; built good client relationships and really helped shape our marketing. We wish him all the best, and I hope we’ll continue to work with him on occasion.”

Now I’ve just got to hope they don’t miss all the pens and post it notes I’ve stolen…..

For contacting Sodash use : info@sodash.com or there will still be a response from Alex@Sodash.com

September 17, 2010 / Alex Robertson

Social Media Graphs

@Idle_Bull recently Tweeted:

“My tweet/follower ratio is pretty much 10:1 surely this is significant and I can make up some fancy guru type explanation for it? 🙂 ” sent by Geoff 22 minutes ago

I replied

@idle_bull you are 10 times louder than you are popular? pfft……”

But then decided he should have a social media educational graph for this.

So here ya go!

@Idle_bull would like to point out, for his vanity, that his ratio is now more like 348:3510 (followers:tweets)

August 10, 2010 / Alex Robertson

Festival Bingo Time! #edtwingo

I thought I’d do my part to bring a little joy to those of us who are in Edinburgh for the festival by introducing a little competition With REAL prizes for the best tweets or photos. These include

1st Prize – Bottle Wine
2nd Prize – £4 pick ‘n’ mix (you can select up to 6 different sweet types but make sure you pick light ones!)
3rd Prize – A copy of the guardian

All you have to do is look at the Bingo sheet below. take note of what we’re looking for and take photos around the fringe. This might be any of the phrases you see on a poster or flyer, maybe its something you see on the royal mile. Take a snap of it and tweet it with the special #edtwingo #tag.

I’ll collect them all together and Retweet the best. This isn’t about volume although there is a special bonus prize for anyone completing the entire set!

Now I’m sure you agree that prizes of this calibre are going to ensure a pretty high level of competition so make sure you try your hardest and get tweeting some photos!!

July 28, 2010 / Alex Robertson

Wine and Social Media

I am expecting many people to beat me to it! But here we go!

“husband & father first. Work stuff – Internet marketing, SEO, PPC” Twitter’er @fraseredwards tweeted:

“Two bottles of wine waiting for a blogger that might want to write about them… First come first served!”

I thought what an excellent example of a social media promotional deal that is guarenteed to get people talking about you!

Plus wine- what can I say! Its a brilliant prize because its easy to post, so long as its in a bottle and not in a glass, and most people like it. Even if they don’t like it they can give it away as a prize of their own!

Or maybe give it to the family pet.*

*This blog in no way condones alcoholic pets.

Update : I won!!! Party at Sodash towers?