The times they have a-changed

Scottish publicans say it’s never been easier to build a varied beer range

• Six Degrees North in Aberdeen.

THE economic recession may have led to a boost in ‘staycations’ in recent years but it doesn’t seem to have dampened demand for foreign flavours.

With brewers from around the globe all in with a chance at lifting sales during the World Cup, SLTN talked to two outlets offering international beers as they approached their first year anniversaries.
Located six degrees of latitude north of Belgium, Aberdeenshire brewer Six Degrees North produces Belgian-style beers from its Stonehaven brewery.

It was hard around ten years ago to have such a choice, now it’s a lot more commonplace.

The brewer also operates the eponymous Six Degrees North bar in Aberdeen, which opened last June, as well as The Marine Hotel in Stonehaven.
Phil Scott, customer care manager and assistant manager at the Aberdeen bar, claims to have seen big changes in the world beer market in recent years.
“From when I was younger you have much more scope to get your hands on different things,” said Scott.
“From our point of view we’re not just [stocking] Belgian [beers], we have UK, Italian, German and other bits and pieces.
“It was hard around ten years ago to have such a choice, now it’s a lot more commonplace.”
When it comes to choice, Six Degrees North has gone further than most, offering a range of over 350 beers.
The venue stocks beer from its own Stonehaven brewery, as well as sourcing beers directly from Belgian breweries and from New Wave Distribution, which supplies the bulk of the bar’s British beer.
Scott, who began his trade career with Oddbins 14 years ago and, more recently, worked as a sommelier before joining the team at Six Degrees North, said he has seen significant changes in the world beer market.
“When I first started we had a smattering of bigger Belgian brewers, nowadays you see the likes of everything,” he added.
Only one and one fifth degrees south of Aberdeen, The Safari Lounge in Edinburgh is another young bar offering customers flavours from around the globe.

• The kitchen team at The Safari Lounge in Edinburgh.

Opened in July of last year, The Safari Lounge serves an ever-changing range of around 20 world beers with a street food themed menu to match.
Owner Andy Caird agreed that there has been an expansion in the number of world beers available to the trade.
“There is a lot more availability for operators to get things in now,” said Caird. “You can get beers from all corners of the globe.”
The Safari Lounge sources its beer from a number of suppliers, including Heineken, Tennent Caledonian, Inverarity Morton and Belhaven.
And variety has proved to be a strength at the venue, with Caird pointing out that a combination of the more established and newer craft world beers are proving popular with customers.
“We still do quite well on our German weiss beers but we’re now finding a lot of the American beers, such as Brooklyn, Flying Dog and Founders [Brewing], are doing quite well,” said Caird.
When it comes to choosing which world beers to stock, Caird said the range at The Safari Lounge is constantly evolving.
“Bottles change week to week,” he said.
“We try to keep updated to see what’s happened with collaborations with different brewers.
“A lot of the brewers have seasonal products so it’s pretty easy to decide what to get.”
The Safari Lounge’s globe-trotting principal permeates through the venue’s entire offer, according to Caird.
He explained that, when guests visit the venue they are “on a culinary safari and a libations safari”.
Staff at the bar are happy to pair beers from around the globe with international food, choosing flavours they think work well together, said Caird.

We try to keep updated to see what’s happened with collaborations with different brewers.

Phil Scott at Six Degrees North also sees the value of food and beer pairing, noting that “it’s becoming more acceptable” to match the two.
This recognition may go some way towards explaining Six Degrees North’s January release, Yatai Biru.
A beer designed specifically for food-matching, Yatai Biru was created for Japanese restaurant Yatai in Aberdeen.
Brewed to complement Japanese cuisine, the beer is wheat-based with ingredients including lemon grass, coriander, oranges and east Asian citrus fruit Yuzu, all of which, Scott pointed out, are non-native ingredients to Scotland.
“The reason behind that [non-native ingredients] is going into flavour profiling,” he said.
“Being that there was an element of citrus to the wheat beer and there’s an element of citrus to Japanese food it balanced nicely.”