Experimental flavours, 500-year-old German brewing traditions and on-trend graphic design – an introduction to your favourite Scottish breweries
'The popular one'
Say what you will about some of their promotional methods or the inherent contradiction of 'Equity for Punks' – if there's one thing that Brewdog have done since their launch a decade ago, it's bring craft beer to the mainstream. Once supermarket aisles were the preserve of piss-like lagers and unappealing old-man ales, but in 2017 exciting, high-quality beer is available everywhere.
Take the brewery's Elvis Juice as a prime example – anyone who can get a flavour-packed 6.5% grapefruit IPA into our local shop without anyone batting an eyelid is worthy of a pat on the back. Good 'dog.
'The trendy one'
Do you like big sans-serif fonts? Do you like industrial-style seating? Do you like delicious and intriguing beer? Meet Drygate, the edgy offspring of Tennents and Williams Bros (more on them shortly). Firmly bedded in to their home on the Wellpark site in Glasgow's East End, Drygate's beers can be spotted a mile off thanks to their incredibly distinctive branding filled with those aforementioned big fonts and some ever-so-slightly terrifying imagery.
Once you pop a bottle, the good news keeps coming – take Drygate's Ax Man Rye IPA, blending the typical citric hoppiness of an IPA with some spicy, darker notes. Tastes lovely, plus it has a picture of a nice lumberjack-looking fella on the bottle, so doubles up as an addition to your 'Hipster makeover lookbook'.
'The murky one'
“If one more person tells me I’m ‘living the dream’ I think I’m going to punch them in the face,” said Pilot's Patrick Jones ahead of their launch back in 2013. The Leith micro-brewers have come a long way since, while sticking to what made them such a breath of fresh air in the first place. Their wares are now regular fixtures in Edinburgh's best pubs, with their unfined (murky, vegan-friendly) beers drawing praise from all corners, while their experimental brews continue to push boundaries.
Their Vienna Pale is a sweet and full-bodied amber beer, while their Blønd pale ale is a fruity and light session beer that's full of delicious tropical flavours without the standard craft beer drawback of leaving you incapable of standing within the hour.
'The traditional one'
The Reinheitsgebot – the 'purity law' stating that only water, hops, yeast and barley can go into a Bavarian beer – celebrated its 500th anniversary last year. The fact that you named WEST as one of your favourite breweries is testament to the fact that some rules don't need to be broken.
Brewing all of its beers by the German playbook, WEST's brews offer a crispness and drinkability that's been honed over the centuries. Their St Mungo helles-style lager holds up well against its Bavarian brethren, and is the perfect drink to get your stubborn/wrong friends on the path to hoppy righteousness.
'The other popular one'
While Brewdog's rise has been firework-like (lots of noise, incredible progression and no small sense of danger), Williams have gone for the bonfire approach of slowly but surely building themselves up since their launch all the way back in the 90s. Inn Deep, their bar in Glasgow's West End, is a perennial favourite of the city's beer lovers, and the brewery's hand in Drygate and the Valhalla's Goat beer shop is clear to see in both venues.
Aside from all that, the Williams guys know how to brew a delicious beer – their Caesar Augustus IPA-lager hybrid remains a personal favourite, with a hoppy punch but a crisp finish. While the notions of 'experience' and 'expertise' don't seem massively in vogue in the world right now, Williams are showing us that taking your time and honing your craft is well worth it.