I am hungover* today.
To be honest, this has been a bit of trend for the last few weeks. November was pretty much an entire month of one Lovely Thing after another. It started with a week in sunny Lanzarote (the main themes of which were awesome scenery, much cheese eating and very cheap, very good Cava). That was followed by a week of extended birthday celebrations (well, not that turning 43 is anything to feckin celebrate…), including a weekend of food and drink (and prog, thanks to a *superb* Carl Palmer gig!) in Glasgow. And last night’s frolics continued in a similar drink-related theme.
But before we get to that, my defence for over-indulging on the swally last night…
I bloody deserved a few stiff drinks as a reward for braving the horror that is TK Maxx earlier in the day. Entering TK Maxx a few weeks before Christmas is like discovering the missing Circle of Hell from Dante’s Inferno. To be fair, TK Maxx gives me The Fear at the best of times – it’s just too random! – but at this time of year, it’s complete insanity. It was CRAZY busy yesterday, mainly with folk rugby-tackling each other to grab that last posh vanilla and jasmine scented candle, for the “bargain price” of a tenner (it’s a FUCKING CANDLE!? WHY IS IT A TENNER?!). That being said it IS the perfect place to go when you genuinely have absolutely no clue what to get folk for Christmas presents – which is always the case with me. Seriously, I am crap at gift giving: I think it should be made illegal not to have an Amazon wish list.
Aaaaaanyway, armed with a huge bag of
tat lovingly chosen gifts, I headed home, with decreased bank balance, increased blood pressure – and a hankering for a wee drink…
The lovely folks who run the gym I go to – Fitness Soul – had organised a Christmas night out for their members. This involved a huge amount of curry (at Punjabi Junction – bloody great) and many, many drinks – after a visit to the Campervan Brewery (seriously, though, you don’t get that at David Lloyd’s do you?! I wrote a bit about Fitness Soul in a blog post earlier this year – see here if you want to to read more).
Incidentally, I bloody LOVE breweries. Love them. A couple of months back I did the tour of the massive Tennent’s Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow (blog about that here) and, over the years I’ve done many other tours of much smaller, independent breweries – plenty of them in Scotland (a particular favourite being the Black Isle Brewery). I’d been intending to visit this new one which is practically on my doorstep ever since I’d heard about it opening, so I was well chuffed when I saw that this was the plan for last night.
So, I know what you’re thinking: what in the name of the wee man is the Campervan Brewery?! Well, apparently a man called Paul started brewing beer in his garage a few years ago. And he also used to travel all over the place in his campervan which was equipped with a mobile brewing kit – how very cool! Then, earlier this year, he opened up a permanent brewery in Leith. Beer and brewing is clearly his passion.
This really is a special wee place. As you approach, through the back streets of Leith and into the wee industrial estate, you are greeted with the sight of the campervan itself, adorned with lights, at the entrance:
Inside, it’s basically a big warehouse but they’ve played a blinder with the decor and atmosphere. There are wooden tables, benches, seats made from barrels and the twinkling lights theme from the campervan outside continues. There’s a bar and you can just come in and have a drinkie – it’s a bit chilly, being a warehouse, but they’ve thoughtfully provided fleecy blankets to wrap yourself in to stay toastie, which is quite cute.
We had booked for the tasting tour: this started with a half pint of our choice of the beers they had on tap (I opted for their Belgian-style ale which was very tasty) and then a friendly chap called Max – who runs the brewery alongside Paul – took us through to the actual brewing “room” and talked us through the background to the place and the full brewing process. They currently do EVERYTHING themselves in that building – even the bottling – which is pretty unusual and a nice touch to keep everything completely local.
After the talk, we went back through to the bar bit and were met with five tasters, and Max gave us tasting notes as we gulped. The beers ranged from one that was quite light and very citrusy called Leith Juice – which was dangerously drinkable – to a very dark stout flavoured with cherries. I’m not normally a fan of “flavoured” beers at all, but these were flavoured very subtly so were absolutely delicious. Luckily, there were a couple of folk in our group who weren’t the biggest beer fans so I helped them out by finishing off their tasters – yeah, I know, I’m all heart 😉
This is just another in a long list of Really Bloody Good Things that have happened in Leith over the past couple of years. I really hope this place is successful: it’s great to see people doing something they are so passionate about in such a welcoming, creative environment. And I believe it’s the case that my local favourite beer shop – Cornelius on Easter Road – stocks their stuff, so I can get a fix within a five minute walk!
And at a tenner for the tasting tour, it’s a proper bargain.
Unlike a bastarding scented candle from TK Maxx.
*(I am so hungover that the clicking of the keys on my Chromebook is actually a bit too loud for me. And when I went to brush my teeth this morning, I contemplated digging out my old manual toothbrush because I didn’t think I could bear the sound and vibration of my electric one).