Taking a look at the local CAMRA Guide to Edinburgh (3rd edition, 2008) is instructive.
Just the two real ale pubs, the venerable Volunteer’s Arms ( Staggs) and the somewhat lesser known Leavenhall Arms. Nine years on, the only addition (Rugby Club aside) is the inevitable Spoons, the derided chain that provide the only decent cask in a large swathe of central Scottish towns.
Tandleman has reported on variable quality in Scottish Spoons on his regular trips. To be fair, in Dalkeith and Musselburgh I had some of the best real ale of our break. In Dalkeith, the custom for pints of Deuchars at £2 a pint may have put an end to cask elsewhere in town, but the David Macbeth Moir is hardly sounding the death knell for Staggs.
The Macbeth (am I allowed to say that ?) isn’t competing with the classic bar across the road, but has an interesting range, nevertheless, comparing well with your average English Spoons for choice.
Only a fool would have gone for the 6.5% Tushkar Oatmeal Stout after a heavy day, but you need to get top value from your Rarebit Burger Meal Deal, so that’s what I did.
Only a mischievous rascal like Charles would have asked the poor barmaid for a pint of the Thrappeldouser, which I bet you didn’t even notice with the top of the pump broken off. Unable to summon help, she had a go with half a pump.
Quite how the game barmaid managed to pull off a pint, even with Charles’s helping hand (top photo), I never worked out.
Whatever, the beer was cool, silky, and full of beery goodness (NBSS 3.5/4), the burger full of calories, and the Macbeth full of odd and occasionally grumpy Monday drinkers.
We did like this Spoons a lot. Cheerful staff, your average ragbag of drunken customers, and the best cinema conversion outside the Capitol in SE23.
In extreme foolishness, Charles decided on (another) nightcap close to our apartment. The Auld Brig had “Malt of the Day” for £2, a Tennents I’ve warmed to, and a curmudgeonly old man atmosphere straight from Sam Smiths. I loved it.