Usually a fixture of the summer events calendar, Foodies Festival returned to Edinburgh last weekend with a three day festive extravaganza. Over 150 producers descended on the EICC to ably assist with our collective over consumption during the festive period, with a whole range of tempting treats on show. Alongside the usual Christmas produce, a number of companies from Scotland’s burgeoning drinks sectors were also present and below you’ll find my top three picks from the event below.
Shetland Reel Gin
I first tasted Shetland Reel Gin at the Scottish Juniper Festival and was impressed how the brand had managed to distinguish itself from the plethora of Scottish gins, without reverting to the gimmicks some have chosen. I (embarrassingly) forgot to write about them earlier in the year, so hopefully this shout out will go some way to remedying the situation.
The gin is the baby of Stuart Nickerson, who has over 30 years’ experience in the Scotch Whisky industry. However, their newest release (which was only bottled a few days before Foodies) is the creation of his wife and has been infused with locally harvested seaweed. The result is a London Dry gin with a superb depth of flavour, which still allows the juniper, citrus and mint flavours associated with the distillery’s standard gin to shine through. With two good releases under their belts, I’m sure there’s a lot more to come from Scotland’s most northerly distilling operation.
Established in 2004, Edinburgh’s Stewart Brewing was one of the first companies to kick start the craft beer revolution and have produced some cracking beers over the years. Despite their maverick approach, it’s safe to say their branding is stuck in the early 2000s, which is why I was delighted to discover the beginnings of a new look for the company’s core range at Foodies.
Due to be officially rolled out from the start of next year, the new look better reflects the brewery’s experimental approach, whilst still remaining rooted in the city which it comes from. The new branding clearly worked on me, as I found myself tasting one of the core range – St Giles – for the first time, and it was delicious. Classed as a Scotch Ale, it struck me as a halfway house between an eighty shilling and a red ale – the perfect combination in my opinion!
Edinburgh Beer Factory
Compared to Stewart Brewing, the Edinburgh Beer Factory is a complete newcomer, with production only starting at the end of October. However, they’ve a safe pair of hands at the helm in the form of John Dunsmore, former chief executive of Scottish & Newcastle. EBF were at Foodies for the first time with for their inaugural brew – Paolozzi larger.
With a sleek designed inspired by famous Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi, their first effort is extremely impressive. A reinvention of the humble lager, it’s close enough to a standard lager not to scare off casual beer drinkers, whilst brining enough to the table to please those looking for a flavour which packs a punch. A good start and I look to seeing what else they roll on in the coming weeks and months.
Thanks to Foodies Festival for providing the complimentary tickets.