12 of the best Scottish craft beers (as chosen by the experts)

We asked some beer experts from across Scotland to help us pick 12 of the best Scottish craft beers.

Published 25th Jan 2017
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Each of our experts were asked to select two of their favourite craft beers, perhaps unsurprisingly - due to Scotland's undeniable wealth of great brews - they all chose different beers, though it seems that one brewery in particular was on nearly everyone's lips.

Here are the choices:

Tempest Brewing Mexicake

(Brewery: Tempest Brewing Co., Galashields, Abv: 11.0% Style: Imperial Stout)

Picture: Tempest Brewing Co.

Picture: Tempest Brewing Co.

As chosen by Pete Sherry, owner of Edinburgh's Beerhive: "An 11% Imperial Stout from one of Scotland's top brewers.

"Using a balanced mix of Chillies, Vanilla and Cinnamon, this is one of the smoothest Stouts of the last two years."

Swannay Brewery Old Norway

(Brewery: Swannay Brewery, Orkney, Abv: 8.0% Style: Orkney Barleywine)

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Picture: Swannay

As chosen by Edinburgh-based social media beer commentator Joe Dick (@whatjoewrote): "In terms of strong beer, Swannay are known far and wide for the unbeatable Orkney Porter, however, Old Norway deserves just as much acclaim.

"This beer is an incredible showcase of something the UK doesn’t shout about enough, our unbelievably high quality malt.

"Sweetness, and a wholesome bready character is counterbalanced by a chunky dose of jammy American hops. Bust it fresh or sit on it until next winter (or even the one after)."

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(Brewery: Fallen Brewing, Stirling,  Abv: 10.0%, Style: Salted Caramel & Raspberry milk stout)

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Picture: Fallen

As chosen by Jehad Hatu, owner of Grunting Growler: "Where do I begin with this one. Again the name gives it away, but I'll give it my best shot.

"Think dark chocolate ganache topped off with raspberry compote. Yeah, it really is that good! Plus, the lactose in the beer gives it an awesome, silky smooth mouthfeel. Big, huge two thumbs up!"

Tempest Harvest IPA

(Brewery: Tempest Brewing Co., Galashields, Abv: 6.7%, Style: IPA)


Picture: Tempest Brewing Co.

As chosen by David Wright, writer and beer specialist for Good Spirits Co.: "Before your eyes roll at yet another IPA in an already overcrowded market, this is really a dry-hopped Saison cleverly marketed with the ubiquitous 'I' word.

"Plenty of spice and farmhouse funk from the saison yeast, magnified by the earthiness of Vic Secret Hops which also bring a whole lot of tropical tang to proceedings. I’m glad they started putting this in bigger bottles because I could drink a lot of this of an evening."

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Swannay Brewery Orkney Porter

(Brewery: Swannay Brewery, Orkney, Abv: 9.0%, Style: Modern Classic Porter)

Picture: www.swannaybrewery.com

As chosen by Glasgow-based beer blogger Isla Mercer: "Far from being a session ale, this porter aged in Isle of Arran whisky casks is very indulgent.

"Rich coffee and chocolate with hints of berries and peat make it my choice to end a meal over a dessert any day."

Fyne Ales Mills & Hills

(Brewery: Fyne Ales, Cairndow, Abv: 9.5%, Style: Imperial Stout)


Picture: Fyne Ales

As chosen by Craig Bullions, manager of Glasgow's The Hippo Taproom: "Fyne Ales might be known best for their lower ABV session ales such as the tremendous Jarl (and rightly so, they do them better than most) but hiding away in their back catalogue is this absolute behemoth.

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"A 9.5% imperial stout brewed with Dutch brewers De Molen, Mills & Hills is a boozy, treacly joy from start to finish. It was the first imperial stout I ever tried and I haven't looked back since."

Top Out The Cone

(Brewery: Top Out, Edinburgh,  Abv: 6.8% Style: IPA)


Picture: Top Out

As chosen by Pete: "An excellent tipple from one of the most under-rated breweries in the country.

"This is a masterfully-crafted IPA in the American tradition – 6.8% with 100 IBUs (International Bitter Units), punchy, resinous, packed with flavour and length."

Tempest Bomber IPA

(Brewery: Tempest Brewing Co., Galashields, Abv: 6.8% Style: IPA)


Picture: Tempest Brewing Co.

As chosen by Joe: "This was undoubtedly the Scottish beer that I consumed the most of in 2016. After moving to their new facility at Tweedbank (conveniently close to the terminus of the Borders railway) Tempest have been able to propel themselves to new heights.

"Having already nailed IPA with Brave New World, it would be easy for Tempest to rest, but with Bomber they move away from dankness and in to the juicy light of Motueka and Mosaic. Despite the intense quality of Bomber and many of their other 2016 releases, I feel the best is somehow yet to come from Tempest."

Tempest Marmalade on Rye 

(Brewery: Tempest Brewing Co., Galashields, Abv: 9.0% Style: Double IPA)


Picture: Tempest Brewing Co.

As chosen by Jehad: "India Pale Ales have always been a favourite with beer lovers, but I can easily say that double IPAs blow them out of the water. They're extremely bold in flavour, and yet we'll balanced. And that's exactly what Tempest have done with Marmalade on Rye.

"I'd try to explain it, but the name gives it away. The malts and hops merge together to give this beer a juicy, sweet backbone, with plenty of orange Hop bitterness, a little bit of spice from the rye, and just enough alcohol warmth to tie it all together. And even at 9% this bad boy is somehow ridiculously quaffable!"

Inveralmond Ossian

(Brewery: Inveralmond brewery, Perth, Abv: 4.1% Style: Golden beer)


As chosen by Isla: "It might not be the most exciting beer in the world, but if I see Ossian on at a bar it's my go to as a starting drink. Light, floral and very sessionable, for me it's a classic golden ale style done brilliantly."

Fallen New World Odyssey

(Brewery: Fallen Brewing, Stirling Abv: 4.1% Style: Blonde)


Picture: Fallen

As chosen by David: "I could have picked pretty much anything from Fallen’s range, but this tropically hopped treat is probably my most quaffed, and will continue to be unless they decide to bring back their phenomenal Gose.

"Any bitterness takes a back seat to punchy papaya, pineapple, melon and mango for maximum refreshment and dependable drinkability."

Fallen Platform C

(Brewery: Fallen Brewery, Stirling, Abv: 6.3% Style: IPA)


Picture: Fallen

As chosen by Craig: "I could probably have picked any Fallen beer for this, such is the strength of their range. Platform C's trumped the other as I believe that this is the best IPA in Scotland at the moment. It takes all that's good about a Pacific Northwest American IPA and ramps it up to 11.

"There's heaps and heaps of citrus fruits at first, followed by a piney resinous finish. It's all I want in an IPA."

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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