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.

Danger area contains secret micro in GBG21, Duncan

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.

Quite like that entrance, mind

Inside it’s very small Scottish hotel lounge bar.

Eyes left
No idea what those poles are for ?

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.

One more and Tiger Roll gets to keep the trophy

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.

Wonderfully shaped shop

Carnoustie appears to be one long High Street packed with takeaways and bakers.

Nice tiling in the micropub butchers.

The Bass equivalent in Angus

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.

Where’s the craft cans like in Tesco ?

Nothing else to see on a mile long walk to the other end of Carnoustie and the Stag’s Head, a Proper Pub to bring back memories of Galashiels.

Typical Scots exterior on the Stag’s Head
Interesting font

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 HenJust Old Speckled Hen. On a Saturday night with CAMRAs in town.

Spot the cask drinker

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.

Big Yin
Little —–

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).

Destination pub

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 ?

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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 ?

Probably not.


  1. Thought you might struggle to write up the Aboukir! There are plenty of breweries doing cask so they must be selling the stuff somewhere other than the specialist, often long standing outlets. Quite a while since I could describe Wetherspoons as reliable in terms of cask quality too, based on plenty of visits to different places in the last couple of years across the UK.


    1. Yes I often wonder where those Strathbaan beers are sold. Perhaps it is all in beer festivals and members bars 😕

      I did get a decent pint in Edinburgh Spoons on the way back, but I’ve been disappointed with their cask for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Scottish pubs are a funny thing. Often well patronised, usually quite dour. Occasionally you get one selling decent real ale. Edinburgh is an exception. It’s nothing new, the whole of Britain from the NE upwards has never really had decent beer, probably why folk have a whisky chaser with their pint. Things are changing though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s decent beer. Until it’s been in the pipes for 3 days. Worth making the point that these are well patronised, friendly pubs. If they had a bottle of the Windswept beer, let alone on keg, served in a nice glass they’d be fine. Saw a lot of Punk on tap though.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The outside of the Aboukir reminds me of Llangollen’s lamented Jenny Jones (“Don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore”) The inside looks fine. The Stag’s Head looks OK too but I might be on the Tennent’s in there. Scottish high streets still tend to have proper butchers and bakers reducing the opportunities for micros.


    1. I’m always puzzled that my mate who lives 20 miles to the west of Glasgow always has a great choice of beers in the house but he wouldn’t dream of going to a local town bar. And of course rural pubs are out because of drink/driving rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Plenty of good bars in Paisley, scarcer till you get to the west coast. Of course, some people like pubs, and some like beer. The overlap is quite small in my experience. I’d rather drink Doom Bar in the Bull in Paisley than have a selection of craft cans in my own home.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Have you ever tried that tradition of having a beer with a whisky chaser? I’m not a big fan of whisky, to be honest, but I’m curious to give that combination a try someday, just to see what it’s like. Gets you tipsy a lot quicker, surely! 🙂


    1. Well we’re meant to be having a Proper Day Out in Uttoxeter but nobody’s come up with a date yet.
      I get to Chester a couple of times a year mainly as Humphrey’s two nearest pubs are there.
      I avoid Stratford like the plague ( but must admit to being there in January )
      York’s got some good pubs and I’ll be there next April.


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