I’m really getting into dangerous territory here, criticising beer quality in Scotland.  But I’m not alone. And while local branches feel (understandably) unable to comment on quality, instead counting the pumps*, I have no such restrictions.

Next stop, East Linton’s Steakhouse, providing a rare relief from the beer desert along the A1 into Edinburgh.

East Linton.PNG

Another impressive Lothian village, allegedly the stand-in location for the film “Violet and Victor in Victoria Falls” in the 1930s.

The Waterfall

In true 1930s Swallows & Amazons style, the flat rocks at the foot of the falls are occupied by schoolchildren on their fag break.  Have schools broken up already in Scotland ?

One pub is called the “Crown & Kitchen” and serves Haddock and Chips for £13.50, while our Beer Guide entry is called “Linton Hotel & Steakhouse“, and offers Haddock and Chips for £10.95. What’s wrong with traditional pub names like Burt’s and No.93 ?


The Public Bar delivers the goods though.


Face it, two Old Boys sitting at the bar drinking Becks, doing the crosswords screams “Pub“.  As did the warm snacks cabinet (scotch pies 90p).

They even had a commemorative porcelain model of Old Mudgie and T’other Mudge.

Mudge & Mudgie burying Craft.  Not to scale.

The What Pub entry screams “3 changing beers. At least one from a Scottish micro”.

Hurrah !

The Blonde, of course

Mrs RM had given me an indulgence allowing me to buy the Foxy Blonde with a clear conscience, and anyway it’s about foxes, not sexism.

The pub’s children said “hello”, but wishing to avoid being asked what I thought of the beer I went up the stairs to the beer garden.

Yes, upstairs. As were the village’s total supply of retired gentlefolk, keeping the pub going with the Classic Afternoon Tea. None of them were drinking the beer from the Borders. Or Northumberland.

And that’s the problem.  This is a lovely pub, catering for the whole village.  If I’d had Tennents and a scotch pie I’d have been happy. But once you chase the waterfalls of cask beer perfection you run the risk of idiots like me drinking it on a hot Tuesday lunchtime.

So I had warm Lucozade in a handled glass and dreamed of Musselburgh.


*I highly recommend the Boak & Bailey post today, and not just because it quotes me.


  1. “Gorgeous”

    I thought they were imitating the Manneken Pis but they’re using jugs. 🙂

    “The Waterfall”

    It doesn’t have far to fall, does it.

    “Mudge & Mudgie burying Craft. Not to scale.”

    It’s like they’re twins! 🙂

    “you run the risk of idiots like me drinking it on a hot Tuesday lunchtime.”

    Heavy are the burdens indeed. But such was the task you agreed to undertake good sir. 😉

    “and not just because it quotes me.”

    You’re (even more) famous! 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I did them 15-20 odd years ago they were the Crown Bar and the Bridgend Hotel. Both were fine, and I do recall Hadrian & Borders being on offer in one of them even then. So at least they aren’t simply chasing new suppliers.
    The A1 being rerouted away may not exactly have been a boon for them.


    1. How many pints of H&B do you think a village pub needs to sell on a midweek day to make it drinkable. 20 ? 50 ? Bet they don’t sell that many. (Genuine question). Sam Smiths have taken their sole cask off in a Stamford pub that must sell far more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure. Helps if the local brewery supplies pins, and a few do. It would need to be 20 at least, at this time of year for a cask.
        Don’t think many rural Scottish pubs will sell a cask in an evening.
        Too many pubs try to keep all their lines on all week. It should fluctuate with trade, usually so you get maximum selection Fri/Sat.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s spot on, particularly variation of no. of lines. I guess there’s only so many pubs folk will travel out to (Staggs in Musselburgh clearly one) and these station-less pubs aren’t on that list.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. About 20 pints a day of each beer, assuming it’s in firkins. But that doesn’t mean it will be properly pulled through in the earlier part of the day.

        The availability of cask in Sam’s pubs seems to have little to do with turnover – imagine how much beer Sinclair’s and the Duncan must shift.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. There’s 72 pints in a Firkin, but you won’t get that many out – for arguments sake 3 x 20 = 60 + or – a bit. So you really need to be selling at least 20 pints per Firkin per day to turn it over in three days. Multiply that by the number of casks (three here) so they need to be selling 60 pints a day, presuming they sell equal amounts from each, they won’t.

        A stronger darker beer can last much longer so is a real good option on one engine. Cask breathers can extend the life too, Dinosaurs don’t like them, but seem to unknowingly sup plenty of ale served that way.

        Factor in that many micros/country pubs are closed until tea time and maybe closed all day on some days then the turnover needs to be greater. Okay the beer will stand better with a hard spile in, but there will still be ‘air’ and potential bacteria ingress as soon as the cask is broached.

        That leaves the point to be made – wouldn’t you rather have a cool fresh pint of Jarl from a keg or a cask beer thats gone past it’s best, in a place like this? Okay they ought to go to one cask beer, but on your evidence it may still not sell.

        Just saying.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “If I’d had Tennents and a scotch pie I’d have been happy.” –I’d heard that cask can be a hit-or-miss proposition, but your blog has really brought home the reality of the situation to me: Occasionally nectar, often dreadful, mostly somewhere between the two. I feel bad for you, the number of times you end up paying good money for something you simply can’t drink past the first few sips, let alone finish.

    But a good pub with bad cask is still worth the visit, I gather, given there’s an old boy at the bar doing his crossword. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is perhaps a bit worrying that Martin is having these experiences in Good Beer Guide-listed pubs, but I don’t think his overall experience is as bad as you suggest. Of course he’s often going in to pubs early doors, which isn’t representative of the whole. We didn’t have a single *bad* pint in Northampton three weeks ago (although there were one or two indifferent ones) and I don’t expect to in Bradford tomorrow, in a mixture of GBG and non-GBG pubs.

      Scotland is a bit of a special case, as real ale is pretty thin on the ground outside the major cities and towns, and tends to be something of a niche product rather than a staple beer. I get the impression that standards for GBG entry can be lower than south of the border, and often a pub gets in purely on the grounds that it actually sells real ale that is sometimes in decent nick.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You beat me to it Mudgie. Read those ten Northampton pub reviews and you’ll find I enjoyed the beer in all of them, and that wasn’t a Top 10 town for quality.

        I don’t intend to give up midweek lunchtime drinking just to get a slightly better beer either. There’s something rather uplifting about a pub in daylight.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. “There’s something rather uplifting about a pub in daylight”
        Yes, indeed, and I find morning daylight to be better than afternoon daylight.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. My dad used to say that the first pint of the day around noon always tasted best, and I understand now what he meant better than I did then.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks for this reply, Mudgie. I think maybe the times when Martin has to deem the beer undrinkable stand out to me due to the inherent surprise of it, whereas I’m not giving due attention to the “beer was very good” times, which you’re quite right, outnumber them by a very wide margin.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Pubs are about, er, pub life, and never a waste of time. There was a fair bit of undrunk cask on this stretch, but actually that’s probably only 5% of the time. Good beer is the norm, great beer happens enough !

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Paul, there’s something about a pub at opening time in the morning. A whiff of stale beer from the night before mingling with fresh ale that’s been pulled through, tasted, tipped down the sink. Dust motes flicker in the sunshine streaming through the net curtains. The cig smoke on the carpet and curtains pervades your clothes and senses. The landlord comes out of the passage to the toilets carrying a mop and pail, hygenic scents sneaking out from behind the closing door. Jangling pennies, float into the till. Sporting life walks up to the bar for a half of Stones and the day begins.

    Liked by 1 person

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