Beer geeks rejoice – no longer is your chosen tipple the poor relation to wine or the red-headed stepchild of the cocktail.
With tastings, tours and bars bursting with every artisan offering your hoppy heart desires, beer lovers can achieve their dream day out in the capital. And who knows, if the weather gods are smiling on you, the wind may even see fit to provide you with a hefty dose of Edinburgh's famed yeasty signature scent, wafting its way across the city from the Caledonian Brewery in the west for more than 140 years.
A stop-off at Brewdog's Edinburgh outpost on the Cowgate is a must – sample the full range of Scotland's renegade brewers' inventively named beers (think Dead Pony Club, Cocoa Psycho or Everyday Anarchy), as well as craft brews and exotic imports from other labels like Stone, Mikkeller, To Øl and Beavertown; pick the brains of the passionate and clued-up bar staff and refuel on their much-lauded pizzas.
The Hanging Bat is Edinburgh's beer Mecca – the bar, which turns three this week, brews its own beer on site; has no fewer than 20 taps and a seemingly endless menu of bottled and draft beers, ales and lagers, including a big selection of Belgium's best and weird and wonderful brews (green tea beer anyone?); offers ranges from craft suppliers including The Kernel, Magic Rock, Wild Beer Co, Tiny Rebel, Almasty, Fyne Ales, Alpha State, Cloudwater; boasts a BBQ menu of hot dogs, ribs and wings designed to compliment the beers; holds monthly “meet the brewer” events and arranges tailored tasting sessions to suit your palate.
Other bars renowned among beer fanatics for their selections include The Regent, Campaign for Real Ale-approved (having been twice voted CAMRA pub of the year by the organisation) and Edinburgh's self-styled premier gay real ale bar; The Bow Bar, which boasts beers from Belgium, Germany, the US, Denmark, Japan, Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Austria and Sweden as well as Scotland and the rest of the UK, and Holyrood 9A, home to 20 pumps and a rotating menu of Scottish beers and ales.
If you're looking for some fine dining in a restaurant that understands the importance of a pint, look no further than Timberyard, which serves beer brewed at the aforementioned Hanging Bat as well as a thoughtfully curated menu of cutting-edge artisan beer, cider, perry and mead from the likes of Kernel, Brew By Numbers and Partizan.
Veritable culinary institution the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School hosts beer and food matching evenings, at which enthusiasts can join drinks writer Tom Bruce Gardyne in sampling ales from the likes of Innis & Gunn, Williams Bros and Harviestoun alongside Scottish produce such as smoked salmon, venison, haggis and cheeses which compliment the craft beer flavours. The next event is on Tuesday, 8 December and costs £40 per person.
Stewart Brewing runs guided tours of its craft brewery on Thursdays and Fridays from 7-9.30pm – the £15 entry fee includes beers, snacks and unlimited access to the brains of its brewers, who will explain the science behind the beer, and the process of creating new flavours from boardroom to bottle – and because no field trip is complete without a trip top the gift shop, you can even buy draft beer to take home. Or for the ultimate beer lover's day trip, book in to play brewer at its Craft Beer Kitchen – prices start from £185 to brew 40 litres of your own beer, choosing from more than 50 recipes, in a two to three-hour guided brewing session, then come back three weeks later (or eight weeks for lager) and bottle the fruits of your labour yourself, adorning the traditional amber glass bottles with your very own bespoke labels – you can even send in your own design beforehand.