Corn Exchange to host four-day Real Ale Festival

Promoter Emily Gray, left, expects the Corn Exchange to be bulging with beer lovers.
Promoter Emily Gray, left, expects the Corn Exchange to be bulging with beer lovers.
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BEER lovers are set to flock to a four-day celebration of all things ale at a Capital venue next week.

The Edinburgh Corn Exchange will be transformed into Scotland’s biggest pub, giving visitors the chance to sample more than 170 real ales.

This is a once-a-year opportunity to sample the very best from across the country

Colin Valentine

A range of ciders, perries and gourmet food will also be available at the ever-expanding event, which organisers describe as the world’s greatest showcase of Scottish beer.

The annual Scottish Real Ale Festival, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), will run from Thursday, July 9 to Sunday, July 12.

Traditional pub games are on the programme, which also features music from Scottish folk singer and guitarist Andrew Gordon, the Caledonian Brewery Pipe Band and Capital-based Rab Howat Band.

CAMRA’s Edinburgh-based national chairman Colin Valentine said: “Real ale is undoubtedly craft beer at its best and the Scottish Real Ale Festival is a unique, once-a-year opportunity to sample the very best from across the country under one roof. The festival is run by CAMRA volunteers and we have selected what we believe are the finest golden ales, bitters, stouts, porters, India pale ales and speciality beers available in Scotland today.”

Stewart Brewing, which now employs 20 full-time employees at its site in Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, Loanhead, will showcase seven different beers. The brewer will use a pilot brew kit, allowing them to make around 100 litres of one-off beers.

Emily Gray, the firm’s marketing and communications manager, said the event, which has been held at the Corn Exchange for several years, was one of the highlights in the brewing calendar.

She said: “It’s definitely an event that all breweries can get involved in, whatever size they are. It’s all encompassing.

“People rush down on the first day. The set-up of the event works really well, in the big hall, with all the different beers.

“It’s brilliant as it’s all just there for you in one big room. It’s all about great beer – it’s the main focus.”

Ms Gray added: “There’s a definite beer crew in Scotland that travel to different events, but there were a lot of new faces last year as well. Beer is so popular, and more people are getting involved in it.

“It’s really appealing to the masses. I expect this year to be even bigger and better.”

Among the other breweries taking part in the event are Isle of Skye, Speyside, Black Wolf and Edinburgh-based Barney’s Beer and Campervan Brewery.

This year’s winner of the prestigious CAMRA Champion Beer of Scotland will also be judged and announced.

For the first time, the festival – which has been running since 2003, at venues including Assembly Rooms and Adam House – will also feature fruit ciders.

Dunbar-based Thistly Cross will be among the firms in attendance, and there will be a range of English and Welsh ciders and perries.