First things first i’m Nick and I run Highland Bottle Shop in Inverness which has been on the go since January this year.
In my job I wear many hats; shop manager, shelf stacker, purchaser, cashier, van driver, serial tweeter, designer, photographer and lots of other random things. Writing on the other hand is fairly alien to me and I spent a while scratching my head on what to do this guest post on. I didn’t want to do the obvious blatant plugging for how great the bottle shop is or blabber on about hops and craft beer.
Then I had a wee light bulb moment — one of Michelle’s reminders to get my finger out and do the blog post came into my inbox this weekend when myself and @hlbshopJo were away for a much needed long weekend.
Most of our trips to cities outwith Inverness are very craft beer orientated – checking out craft beer pubs in Edinburgh, beer shops in Glasgow, sitting in one of the many BrewDog bars dotted about or in extreme cases like our stateside trip taking a 300 mile detour to visit a brewery. This has only gotten worse since starting the shop!
Since this weekend was for Jo’s birthday I was told it can’t all be about beer and there are actually other places to go and things to do. But since Jo is a proud “beer chick” and almost loves beer as much as I do we did end up in a couple of beery places along the way.
Here are the highlights of our weekend:
Six Degrees North
Littlejohn Street, Aberdeen
A very new addition to Aberdeen’s bar beer scene this is one of the best beer bars we have ever been in. It ticked all the boxes for us. It has a nice atmosphere and is much more spacious than its neighbour BrewDog. The crowd is a nice mix of folk and there is plenty to offer non beer fans which is probably why it was buzzing when we were in on Saturday night. It is also reasonably priced especially on draft beers including some the owners make themselves in their Stonehaven Brewery. The bottle list is nothing short of incredible with over 300 bottled beers mostly from Belgium but some unique stuff from all over the place. Staff were very knowledgeable and happy to take time to go through the massive menu with customers. We will be back but will be arriving earlier next time and plonking ourselves down on a bench for the evening!
Aberdeen Art Gallery
We decided to partake in a small element of culture along with all the food and drink so popped in to Aberdeen Art Gallery. In here you will find everything from 18th century portraits right through to an eclectic mix of contemporary art. The museum hosts frequent temporary exhibitions which are worth keeping an eye on. All free.
Sitting in the shadow of the newly renovated Marischal college is BrewDog’s first bar. It has an amazing selection of their beers on draft along with guest beers and a great bottle selection. We popped in on Sunday afternoon and sampled a few beers from featured guest brewer Evil Twin. A lazy Sunday is by far the best way to check this place out as you get a chance to chat to staff, try wee samples before you buy and can crack into the reasonably priced cheese and meat platters. There are also board games – and acoustic music kicks off around 5 on a Sunday, what more do you need for a chilled out Sunday afternoon? It is a pretty different place when it is busy and there isn’t a huge amount of room to move about when it is – which is why we tend to avoid it on Friday or Saturday nights.
Queens Road, Aberdeen
We had hoped to stay here but given Offshore Europe was on in the city it was a bit beyond our price range this time. Out with oil conferences (in a city with a shortage of hotel beds) the Malmaison website is worth checking out as they sometimes have some very good weekend promotions if you ever want to treat yourself to stay in a hotel with some character and luxury. We opted here for food as when staying here before we thought it looked pretty good. We weren’t disappointed – we both had fantastic steaks, cooked perfectly. Great attentive service and very nice surroundings. The Creme Brulee is worth leaving room at the end of the meal for.
Belmont Street, Aberdeen
This place is fairly new and quite an usual addition to Aberdeen’s nightlife. Think 1920s Chicago speakeasy complete with bartenders in bow ties and braces, muted lighting and you get your drinks served in vintage glassware whilst you enjoy some appropriate music played from a record player. This is the kind of thing if done wrong could be totally awful and end up being like a 1920s version of TGI Fridays but it is done in a way that pulls it off quite well and makes for quite an unusual evening. The staff were great and we enjoyed absolutely top notch service. The cocktail list is very different and contains some strange concoctions but the bartenders are knowledgeable enough to rustle you up anything that isn’t on the list if you are not feeling adventurous.
We had a fantastic long weekend in Aberdeen – ate lots, tried some amazing beer checked out some new places and were generally impressed with the high standards of venues carving out their niche in a vibrant city. Our nightlife in Inverness could learn a lot from our neighbour to the east especially when it comes to choice and offering something different.
Any questions about Aberdeen, beer or anything else find me on twitter @hlbshopNick