[easy-social-share buttons=”facebook,twitter,pinterest,pocket,mail” counters=1 counter_pos=”hidden” total_counter_pos=”leftbig” style=”icon” twitter_user=”@Prostly” point_type=”simple”]

With the official Edinburgh Fringe Festival app on hand, filled with places to go and events to see, I thought I’d be fine choosing what to do. But with so many great possibilities and less than a weekend there, deciding on the best beers and events seemed almost impossible.

I needed to find out more. I needed the help of a bartender who would draw up a battle plan to find the best Scottish beer. I knew with great beer, I’d be able to enjoy myself more during the Fringe. So I headed to a quaint looking pub named The Other Place, just outside my hotel in New Town.

Once there, bartender Mike recommended a pint of the locally brewed Birds and the Bees Golden Summer Lager from Williams Brothers, perfect for a hot summer day. But with rain pouring, we both agreed the beer-war wasn’t over. I’d need to drink more to find the best.

I needed something different, a beer that would complement the weather and the festive ambiance.

Thankfully, Mike told me about a beer store just around the corner where I could indulge in a wide variety of known and not so known Scottish brews. A bartender’s recommendation should never be overlooked, I thought, so with his advice, I marched onward to find the best Scottish beers.

The Beer Hive, which houses more than 600 different types of brews, has fridges full of excellent selections, and just like Mike explained, many of the beers were ones I had never heard about before. It was almost overwhelming.

Shop owner Pete, though, thankfully calmed my nerves and recommended Brewdog’s Restorative Beverage for Invalids and Convalescents, a highly potent 8.5 percent piney Imperial IPA that would better serve the weather. With the rain coming and going, I thought, “Why not?” and proceeded to drink. The high ABV percentage caught me off-guard at first, but it was a welcoming surprise and quickly got me into the festive mood.

While drinking, Pete explained the Scottish craft beer scene often gets overlooked in the land of whisky but is well on its way. The Scots have been brewing beer for thousands of years, he said, so it’s not like it’s a new thing. It’s just that in the past two years an explosion of craft brewers have put Scotland on the map and a lot of what is being brewed in the country has climbed the charts and is getting noticed.

All very interesting, I thought. So with canned beer in hand, completely legal in the capital (but not through all of Scotland), I headed to the Edinburgh Castle in the city center where many of the Fringe shows are held. Once there, I was told I’d find more solid brews from Brewdog and a few others. I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink a heavy ale for so long, so finding a lighter beer was my priority. The battle for the best brews continued.

As I approached the city center, I passed by clubs, restaurants, and shops that aligned the streets. Crowds, street performers, and merchants came and went, the weather cleared, and by evening, thousands of people began to celebrate the Fringe Festival. It was easy to notice the holiday mood and a perfect time to purchase my next drink.

Up next, I drank the 5 percent HollyRood Pale Ale from Scotland’s Stewart Brewing, which brought me back to my session standard. Though less aromatic and sharp than my previous drink, the HollyRood was solid. It was quick, light and could have been enjoyed for the rest of the night. Though, that’s not how I wanted to continue. I wanted to tackle even more brews from Scotland, the best brews.

And I knew just where to go — the underground Jolly Judge bar, tucked in between the main street leading to the castle. There I would surely get a recommendation I couldn’t ignore. And just like I thought, the beer-bartender suggested another tasteful ale.

The fruity-hop Hit the Lip beer from Scottish brewery The Cromarty, a 3.8 percent ale, was perfect and went down well as I chatted with locals about the upcoming events. I learned that while the Fringe is an international attraction, Scots also like to check out the festival’s many talented performers, which can’t be said about every internationally known festival. And just like that, I was given a bunch of recommendations on where to go and what to drink next.

With a show to see and ideas of what beers to drink, I headed out among the cool of the night to find one last beer. With the rain mostly settled, my spirits were high. I knew I could pick between a few good breweries, like Odell, Ballast Point, and Belhaven, which would have all been great. But with time running out, beer soaking in and my thoughts growing hazy, I knew searching for that best beer would be difficult.

So I settled on the excellent Odell 90 Schilling Ale, a beer I’ve had and loved before. At just under 6 percent, it was the perfect nightcap while on my search for Scotland’s best beers.

As for what I thought was the absolute best, I’ll have to go back and decide later. But if you’re there and wanting to know what to do drink or where to go, feel free to contact me on Twitter or Instagram @shaymeinecke, or head to your nearest bar and chat with the beer-bartender. Those guys and girls are sure to help you coordinate your very own battle plan.

Photos courtesy of Shay Meinecke; Header image courtesy of Flickr; Byronv2