Swedish Fruit Cider
B D berdeen A rew
“Extraordinary beers that blow people’s minds and kick start a revolution.” A startup company that brews its own crafted beer on the North East of Scotland is stirring the beer industry up a bit. This is a look inside the bar where it all started. BrewDog was founded by school friends James Watt and Martin Dickie with the sole purpose of changing the way we look at beer. They wanted to brew something that was a class apart from the “stuffy ales and fizzy yellow lagers” that dominate the UK market. Fed up of the consumerism view on beers, where everything looks the same, tastes the same and is mass marketed with big profit margins due to small cost to produce. They wanted to be the rocking Rage Against the Machine that knocked The X Factor off the top of the music charts. Nowadays they brew all kinds of beer, from strong dark ales to lighter ones with heather and honey flavours. In October 2010, after some time in a make shift brewery, BrewDog’s first bar was opened on Gallowgate, Aberdeen. From outside you see the two blue and white shields of BrewDog and nothing else, a bright and modern counterpoint to the grey all around and a refreshing change from the usual bright red ‘T’ that indicates Tennent’s inside. Which hardly differ-
entiates a pub from any others, but is put outside anyway. Smart and cool outside, with the windows misted so that you can’t see in, but more importantly, so those inside can’t see out. “Beer for Punks” is broadcast onto the street. The leather sofas to the left and right, tables and stools up the right hand side and high chairs, long desks in the middle and industrial bare-brick walls give the feeling you’re well underground. They don’t mess around with
the furnishings; it isn’t about any of that. It’s about what comes out of the pumps. The dimly lit bar takes up the whole back space but the most important part is the blackboard. The menu of absurd named beers with ridiculous ABV percentages available in thirds, tasting trays, halves and pints. The only problem being you feel you must try them all. When the bar fills up there’s a great atmosphere, with an edgy soundtrack playing in the background, a mix of
young and not-so young drinkers with a fair amount of tattoos and facial hair present. It’s the sort of place that’s very dangerous; it’s easy to lose hours of your life in there exploring a world of beers you never knew existed and indulging in everything that is great about craft beer from the depth of flavour and character, to the passion of the people. “No
record for the strongest beer in history with a 55% alcohol beer which is named “The End of History.” There were only 11 bottles available, and each bottle comes inside a stuffed grey squirrel. Yes, a squirrel. Ranging in price up to £700, it was also the most expensive beer in history.
ers as a part of BrewDog’s ‘Equity for Punks’ scheme. The money made is used to fund a seven fold increase of production at the brewery as well as open new bars. The scheme has proved successful thus far as there are now a total of 11 BrewDog bars in the UK and 1 in Stockhom. All the bars have a common design, so whethCarling. No Tennents. No shots. er you visit BrewDog Camden or Glasgow you should get No bullsh*t. Just good honest beer.” BrewDog BrewDog have always pushed the same feel and roughly the the boat further than any others - BrewDog same types of beer. Involving all when it comes to how much alcothe customers shows they have a famhol can actually squeeze into a beer. These days their home is a state of ily type connection with the drinkers Starting with their ‘Tactical Nuclear the art eco-brewery in Aberdeenshire and as a collective they believe in this Penguin’, a 32% ABV distilled stout that is the world’s first crowd fundmovement and push for better beer. launched in November 2009. But it ed brewery. This is down to 42,000 gets better; they reclaimed the world shares being made available to punt-
Six Degrees North is the new kid on the block on the Aberdeen bar scene.
But is it a contender for the title?
Six degrees North is, first and foremost, a Belgian craft bar. And it’s a cracker. It opened on Littlejohn Street this year, just a stumble away from a big competitor, the previously mentioned BrewDog.
The goal was to bring quality hand crafted Belgian beers to the UK market by brewing their very own and distributing imported Belgian beers through the on and off trade. Hence a Belgian beer bar was opened in Aberdeen. Other breweries in Scotland have brought out Belgian style beer, but this is the first one to go the whole way and open up a bar for their beers to be showcased. It was opened by Stonehaven based Robert Lindsay. Born and raised in Stonehaven but living in Belgium for three years, learning the brewing trade there it provides the perfect link between the taste of Belgium and the bar in Aberdeen. He has created a haven for beer lovers by brewing
The bar itself is interesting and fresh, made up of a couple of spacious, stone grey rooms. It could be considered bland, but I prefer retro and basic, with not a daring colour in sight. It looks great though, with several nods to traditional Belgian taphouses like the long wood and bright metalic bar with thirty odd dark wooden pumps thats stand opposite a roaring granite fire place on the other wall. And there are wooden benches and booths dotted around the room. The place still feels brand new, a blank slate still finding its feet. You can still smell the wood. But there is a nice party vibe overall, loud voices echoing around the massive walls.
and distributing quality Belgian-style beers. This has subsequently led to the bar quickly growing in popularity with punters and can regularly be intensely crowded, especially on a Saturday. It serves a mixture of its own brewed beers and Belgian classic beers, on tap and in bottles. To begin with there was a range of releases to cover most of the spectrum. Blond, wheat, saison, dubbel and tripel. Beyond that, though, are other derivatives such as Belgian-style stouts and fruit beers. The joy of Belgian beer is that it travels well and it seems as though it has found a new destination in Aberdeen.
But there has got to be a way of deciding which of these delicious Belgian treats you are going to sample. That’s where the famous Six Degrees North blackboard comes in. This is located in a very strange place, right up in the rafters. It is high on the wall, behind you as you walk in and could give anybody a sore neck. Written on it is the impressive variety of craft beers that the bar has on tap, as well as the ABV percentage and a brief description of the flavours that come with each. Rumour has it after one has drank a few too many of the beers on offer, looking up to the read the board in the distance becomes quite the challenge. Just try not to fall off your seat. Is this innovative new bar as good as it’s competitors though? Firstly it proudly takes its place amongst the group of bars in the city that are
different. Offering a change from the ordinary. The fact that it is an individual brand rather than a chain helps to set it apart. But it depends what you are looking for. If you want to go and try some solid, strong, ‘proper’ beers in a dark brick room then BrewDog is your winner. But Six Degrees North has more of an elegance about it. It’s less obnoxious and more classy, sophisticated and chilled out. Overall though I would say BrewDog has mastered the individual craft beer game and still leads the way. But with Six Degrees North’s outstanding beer collection, give it some time and I’m sure it will get there.
THE RISE OF SWEDISH CIDER During a rare spell of sunshine this year, warm local ale was replaced on the beer garden tables by fruit cider. And undoubtedly the two brands spearheading the growth are Rekorderlig and Kopparberg, both of which call the cold Scandinavian country of Sweden home. Rekorderlig was created in 1999, using the purest spring water from Vimmerby, Sweden, where it’s still brewed today. With its quirky old school bottle design, variety of fruity flavours that keep up with changing times and an attractive website and marketing campaign, it has appeared everywhere from the fridges of cool town bars to the supermarket booze isle. Sales of Rekorderlig have risen 144 per cent over the last year and the brand now accounts for a 12 per cent value share in packaged cider. Not bad. But continuing to lead the market is Kopparberg. Hailing from the Swedish town of the same name in 1882, the company strives on ‘doing things different’ and over the last year made it acceptable for a man to order a ‘strawberry and lime’ in a bar without being laughed at. The key ingredient integral to all their ciders is the unique ‘soft water’, sourced locally from the Kopparberg lakes which have a low
mineral content allowing the natural pure taste of the fruit to come through unaltered. In the UK, Kopparberg continues to pioneer the development of the fruit cider category, first with the popular Mixed Fruit variant and more recently with Elderflower & Lime and the latest of the home favourites, Kopparberg with Strawberry & Lime. Cider with fruit became the UK’s fastest growing category of alcoholic beverages, and Kopparberg rose to the top of that. But surely all cider is ‘fruit cider’? True, of course an apple is a fruit. But the ‘fruit cider’ in question is cider with extra fruit flavouring. And nowadays there are all sorts. Elderflower, raspberry, mango, apricot, peach and passion fruit to reel off a few. Despite hitting the wallet a bit harder and the sweetness not being to everybody’s taste buds those exotic flavours probably swayed a good few of the typical ‘pint of lager’ drinkers over the past few months. But with the clocks changing, the nights growing longer and bars realising there isn’t much point for outdoor seating the fruit cider industry will surely disappear while the Christmas lights are on. However they don’t plan to slow down. Just as cold and fruity battled for your cash over June and July, spiced versions come out to make their play for the winter. During a season when the cider trade is usually dull
and quiet they are swapping the ice and lime for beverages that can be enjoyed warm. It seems as though Rekorderlig are going to be the front runners in this innovative new winter fruit cider movement. They are releasing two new flavours which are being backed by the company’s first full scale advertising campaign, which has cost £2 million by the way. The first of which being a ginger and orange cider. Still refreshing but with the kick of ginger that warms your belly a little as well. The colour is special too. It’s a perfect dark peach which alone would make you want to have it in your fridge for the winter months. There is also a Premium Winter Cider from Rekorderlig which packs together all the best flavours of the season. It is apple infused with cinnamon and vanilla. It can be drunk over ice, but they are suggesting you mix it up a bit. Heat it through and serve it with a slice of orange for the perfect winter warmer. So if you have somehow missed the fruit cider bandwagon rolling through over the last year or so, it’s not too late to jump on. Put the mulled wine to one side, and grab a fruit cider when it gets cold.
JOE HOWELLS MMXIII
What to drink. Where to drink.