I’ve always said I’d be completely honest on this blog. Unless Pipers wish to sponsor me with free crisps, in which case I’ll tell you their squashed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer flavour are their best ever.
But sometimes I have to tell you beer quality isn’t great in Scotland, as the locals don’t drink it despite CAMRA’s best effort. When it’s good, it’s often great (Bon Accord, Staggs), but that tends to be at the specialist ale pubs.
You’ve heard of plummeting cask sales in the UK; I’ll bet the picture in Scotland is particularly grim. I didn’t get an enjoyable pint in six successive Wetherspoons, normally a reliable bet.
But good pubs can compensate for poor cask, normally by having lots of locals drinking Tennents.
Welcome to Carnoustie.
It looked rather stunning at 7am from the Caledonian Sleeper last month.
At 6pm a month laterit was less alluring as I set off in search of two new ticks (plus a third along the coast).
I’ve tried all the filters to make the Aboukir look appealing but still failed.
Inside it’s very small Scottish hotel lounge bar.
No, they’re not watching the TV for interviews with Arbroath’s manager.
It’s the Grand National, moved from the traditional time of 3.45pm and this year won by a horse.
Never been to horse racing. Perhaps I can combine pub ticking in Uttoxeter or Cartmel with a trip this year.
Anyway, one or two winners in the Aboukir, but no-one buying drinks for the pub at those odds, and to be honest the Strathbaan was no more than OK (NBSS 2.5).
Carnoustie is one of the few towns familiar to Americans who shout “IN THE HOLE !!” and vote for Trump. No Americans in Carnoustie’s pubs; they’re either still on the links courses or paying £32 for fillet steak in the Golf Hotel or waiting for Simpsons to open.
Carnoustie appears to be one long High Street packed with takeaways and bakers.
Nice tiling in the
Because I know there are a few delinquents among you who are interested in beer, I popped in the local Co-Op to see what varieties of Tennent’s they had.
You may be amazed.
The plainest of plain community pubs, the sort you never get in the Guide in the South, and packed with all ages talking nonsense and ignoring the FA Cup Semi (City, I think).
BRAPA will love it, fans of weird hoppy beers will be horrified by the offer of Old Speckled Hen. Just Old Speckled Hen. On a Saturday night with CAMRAs in town.
One chap drank Brakspear Gold out of a bottle. He was a wise man. The OSH was watery and dull (NBSS 2). Fortunately the pub was anything but.
Good enough for Billy Connolly and the Scottish Manneken Pis, good enough for me.
I hopped on the train a couple of stops to Monifieth. Just past the golf course is the Milton, the obligatory upmarket Guide pub near a golf course (see also: Lundin Links).
The Milton had a “greeter”, a posh fire, and 3 real ales. Three.
It also had the most enthusiastic barman/manager I saw all weekend, explaining the ales to gentlefolk diners who ended up just picking the beer with an animal on the pump clip.
He recommended the M’oR to me, which I liked. It was a well-conditioned pint, too, without being stunning (NBSS 3).
“You can sit at the bar if you want”. Do I look like a heathen ?
In an hour or so spent in three pubs on a Saturday evening I saw ONE other pint pulled, that pint of Exmoor. But does it really matter when all three were busy and pubby ?