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The East Neuk Good Beer Guide  
Pittenweem Harbour

The East Neuk Good Beer Guide

Turn the clock back 20 years and you certainly wouldn't have come to Scotland for the quality of its beers.

What a transformation!

The renaissance in Scottish brewing was spurred on by the Caledonian Brewery winning the Champion Beer of Britain in 2002 for its session beer Deuchars IPA and the following year by Harviestown Brewery who scooped the prestigious award with Bitter and Twisted.

A great number of pubs in Scotland are owned by Heineken (formerly Scottish & Newcastle) serving the usual fizzy fare of John Smiths, Fosters and Kronenbourg or by Greene King-owned Belhaven with the ubiquitous Belhaven Best, Tennents and Wifebeater (Stella). Yuk ! However there are some gems of pubs to be found in the East Neuk and environs which serve not only great Scots beers but some of the best English ones too.

Deuchars IPA

Here are some great Scots beers to look out for in these cracking East Neuk pubs.

Strathaven Ales, Strathaven Avondale, Clydesdale
Houston Brewery, Renfrew Peters Well, Killellan, Barochan, Blonde Bombshell
Inveralmond Brewery, Perth Independence, Thrappledouser, Ossian, Lia Fail (gaelic for ‘stone of destiny' -orgasmic taste!)
Harviestoun Brewery, Alva Bitter & Twisted, Schiehallion (wonderful Scottish lager), Ptarmigan
Orkney Brewey, Sandwick Dark Island, Raven, Red Macgregor. (They also brew Skullsplitter (8.3% ABV) which is regrettably rarely to be found on the mainland). They also brew the Atlas Range including Latitude, Three Sisters and Nimbus.
Cairngorm Brewery, Aviemore Wildcat, Trade Winds, Stag, Sheeepshagger (fun to ask for !)
Black Isle Brewery, Munlochy Red Kite, Blonde
Arran Brewery, Brodick Arran Ale, Arran Dark, Arran Blond
Broughton Brewery, Biggar Greenmantle, Merlin's Ale, 80/-, The Ghillie, Black Douglas, Scottish Oatmeal
Eden Brewery, St Andrews Blonde, Clock, 19th Brew
Isle of Skye Brewery Red Cuillin, Hebridean Gold

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All the pubs in the East Neuk are welcoming to strangers and are generally dog-friendly too. In St Andrews the beasts are pretty well verboten.

For the benefit of visitors from foreign parts (ie south of the Forth Bridge) it may be instructive to explain the differences between pubs which sell real ale and those which do not. As a general rule of thumb, the use of the F-word and the C-word are not encouraged in real ale pubs; in those which do not serve real ale their use is actually mandatory and you will emerge cursing like Billy Connolly at a live show.

Most pubs are open all day and stay open until 11pm or later.


There are now only 2 pubs in Pittenweem

West End Bar: Click for larger picture One real ale is usually on tap. Otherwise it's the usual bland selection of McEwans 60/-, 70/- and 80/-, Tartan Special and John Smiths Smooth. West End Bar
Larachmhor: Click for larger picture Located within a short 50 yard stagger from the front door, the Larach is a former fisherman's pub, now refurbished by the Swiss owners to resemble an ice cream parlour (must not liken the place to the lounge at Bern Airport or I'll be in trouble again). Larachmhor

Anstruther               Return to top^^

Bank Inn: Click for larger picture The pub has the widest selection of real ales and at the lowest prices in the East Neuk. The Bank has quickly established a loyal following of ale drinkers and now has sufficient ale turnover to justify three ales on tap at all times. Bank Inn, Anstruther
Ship Tavern: Click for larger picture Great location on the harbour front next to the Anstruther Fish Bar. Two real ales are usually available, frequently an Eden Ale from St Andrews. You can also dine on the best of local produce including lobster, dressed crab and a variety of Barnett's speciality breads. You may even bump into Scott, Eden's head brewer who seems to like the stuff he brews. Ship Inn, Anstruther
Boathouse: Click for larger picture Superbly positioned on the Harbourfront, the Boathouse has one and sometimes two ales on tap, and offers quality food as well. Boathouse, Anstruther
Dreel Tavern:Dreel The Dreel is very probably the oldest pub in town and is renowned for the quality of its ales, (usually a choice of three) as well as its cuisine. Nice beer garden at the back overlooking the Dreel Burn.
Dreel Tavern, Anstruther
This plaque is bolted to the pub wall, commemorating the event (tourist version) concerning the infant peripatetic Scots king James V, which inspired leading local onanists to form their infamous "Beggar's Benison" club dedicated to sex in general and self-abuse in particular. Dreel Tavern, plaque to James V
The Haven, Cellardyke: Click for larger picture Situated on Cellardyke Harbour, the Haven offers a single real ale but backed up with bottles of Fyne Ales in the chiller. There's also a large beer garden at the back and an extensive menu. Haven, Cellardyke

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Golf Hotel Crail: Richard at the Golf Hotel, Crail: Click for larger pictureHistoric hotel dating back to 17-something. The single guest ale changes frequently and has recently included Old Speckled Hen, Abbott, London Pride, Courage Directors and SA Brain's Winter Fire. Small bar with dartboard and an open fire in winter. Live folk music sessions.
Golf Hotel, Crail
There's also the East Neuk Hotel Lounge and public bars serving Tennents and Stella. Pool table, TVs, jukebox and games machine in public bar. Piped music - pop in the public bar, Bing Crosby in lounge.

Elie               Return to top^^

Ship Inn: Click for larger picture Superbly located on Elie's beach this pub is home to the yachty crowd in summer. Outside seating area overlooking the beach and dogs receive Scooby snacks. Deuchars IPA on tap.
Ship Inn, Elie
Golf Tavern (aka 19th Hole): Click for larger pictureGreat location overlooking the 4th fairway of Elie Golf Course. Regrettably serves only Deuchars IPA and Caledonian 80/- (yawn!). Although there is a TV behind the bar tuned to sport and a large wall-mounted flatscreen in the seating area, noisy distractions such as jukebox and gaming machine are located in the separate pool room behind the bar. The pub has recently been refurbished with a new kitchen serving a range of good but rather pricey food..
19th Hole, Golf Tavern, Elie
Station Buffet: Click for larger pictureIf you don't fancy chatting with the would-be matelots in the Ship Inn or hobnobbing with Edinburgh's bankers and lawyers in the Golf Tavern, this is the place to go. With a clientele of perfectly chattable folk, the Buffet was proclaimed the Sunday Mail Pub of the Year in 2008. Full of b/w railway pictures and a very fine front door proclaiming the place's original use - Braid's Licenced Restaurant.
Station Buffet, Elie

Lower Largo

Railway Inn: Click for larger pictureA little gem in historic Lower Largo, just yards from the beach. 3 real ales are generally on offer - usually Bitter & Twisted, London Pride and Deuchars IPA sometimes one other. The beer is superbly kept and served by some of the friendliest barmaids you'll find in the East Neuk - Maggie, Barbara and Christine. The theme, unsurprisingly, is railways. The pub is in the lee of the Largo Viaduct which looms above it. Try it. You won't be disappointed.
Railway Inn, Largo
Crusoe Hotel: Click for larger pictureLocated opposite the Railway Inn on Lower Largo harbour, this former granary offers fine vistas of the Forth and Lothian coast. Standard beer fare plus one real ale, usually Deuchars IPA. Outside seating area in the summer on the harbour wall. There's also an exhibition room dedicated to the history of the real Robinson Crusoe - Alexander Selkirk.
Crusoe Hotel, Lower Largo

St Andrews               Return to top^^

Central Bar: Graham Hunt serving at the Central Bar: Click for larger pictureLocated at the eastern end of Market Street the Central is the only pub locally to have been awarded the Cask Marque. As I understand it, inspectors from Cask Marque visit the pub incognito and assess the beers for appearance, temperature, aroma and taste. All the beers must achieve a score of 16/20 or greater to gain the award. Given the consistent quality of the Central's beers this award comes as no surprise. Some of the best British beers are to be found here and owing to high turnover, pleasant surprises are virtually guaranteed. Recent guest ales have included Blonde Bombshell, Landlord and Spitfire. One of Houston's beers is generally always available. Scotsman newspaper provided and outside seating sporadically available.

For more information on Cask Marque (Slogan - For pubs which serve the perfect pint) visit
Central Bar, St Andrews
Whey Pat: Alan Sinclair at the Whey Pat: Click for larger pictureLocated by the West Port, this Belhaven Breweries-owned pub is an oasis for real beer connoisseurs. Few distractions are provided enabling the connoisseur to enjoy the 3 guest ales which are always on tap and socialise with his/her fellow patrons. As at the Central the high beer turnover makes for frequent pleasant discoveries. Some recent finds - Pride, Black Sheep, Spitfire, Lia Fail, Flowers, Barochan, Bitter&Twisted and Thrappledouser.
The Whey Pat, St Andrews

Droothy Neebors: Located by the West Port, Droothy Neebors is a friendly and relaxed town centre pub, owned by Belhaven Brewery. It's light and airy at the front with comfy chairs in the window and progressively darker and gloomier the further you go in. You usually have the choice of 2 or 3 real ales. Newspapers are provided - 2 broadsheets and 2 redtops to cater for all intellectual tastes.

Criterion: The Cri, as it's locally known, has now reverted to its former name and is a superb real ale pub with outside seating continental-style. Main snacks available comprise toasties with a wide selection of fillings. Newspapers provided.

Aikman's Cellar Bar: Tom serving at the Cellar Bar: Click for larger picture The Cellar is now desperately in need of a lick of paint. In spite of this a good selection of real ales is always on offer although quality can be variable dependent on who is responsible for operations on the day. Recent offerings have included Ossian, St Andrews Ale, Three Sisters and Fireside. If you fancy a pint late at night, this is the venue for you as it's the only pub in town with a late (1am) licence. It's heaving after midnight in term time and you may struggle to get to the bar. Folk music on Tuesdays and live bands several times a week.
Cellar Bar, St Andrews

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