Since its Edinburgh date was announced, I’ve been pretty excited about the arrival of North Hop in the capital. One of Scotland’s newest drinks festivals, it promised to bring together the best craft beers, spirits and street food that Scotland has to offer. And thankfully, it didn’t disappoint!
Whether it’s my expert taste or merely good luck, pretty much all of my favourite breweries were there, including Tempest, Stewart Brewing, Williams Bros and Drygate, along with new(ish) boys Edinburgh Beer Factory and a whole lot of others that I didn’t even make it to. All of the breweries had brought their A-game on the night, including a couple of treats, the highlight of which was Drygate’s Forelsket Session IPA – I could (and quite possibly did) drink gallons of the stuff!
Scotland’s burgeoning craft distilling sector was also out in force. Solid Liquids was mixing up custom made gin and tonics – Shetland Reel Ocean Sent and new-to-me Walter Gregor’s tonic made for a great combination – along with some cracking rum cocktails. My favourite gin distillery, Rock Rose, also put in an appearance, bringing the distillery’s new vodka. I’ve yet to be converted to vodka but this might be the one to do it – watch this space.
Up and coming Edinburgh distiller Electric Spirits Co. also created a limited edition small-batch gin for the festival, which contained three different varieties of juniper from Eastern Europe and a whole load of coriander. Made in the super-dry style, it would be great either straight up, in a G&T or a gin Martini. I’m looking forward to a lot more from one of the capital’s newest and smallest
Alongside the drinks, the Assembly Rooms was filled with the smell of some delicious street food from right across the country. Although we found ourselves mainly having a liquid dinner (drink responsibly folks!) we did find room for a couple of moreish Scotch Eggs, courtesy of Aye Love Real Food, which included both black pudding and chorizo varieties.
One tiny niggle – an old dude like me would have loved a cloakroom to check my jacket and umbrella into. The balancing act between a beer, Scotch Egg, a coat and an umbrella proved quite tricky towards the end of the night! The stunning venue more than made up for this though.
The North Hop road show rolls onto Aberdeen next, with Glasgow and its spiritual home of Inverness to follow later on in the year, so be sure to grab your tickets soon. And here’s hoping we’ll see it back in Edinburgh (with a cloakroom ;p) next year.