Flavour Profile Q&A: Steven Smith Hay, co-founder of Edinburgh’s Vault City Brewing

We ask this brewer about his favourite ingredients and dream dinner party

Published 18th Jan 2022
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

What’s your favourite ingredient?
Chilli. I’m a sucker for spicy foods and I add it to everything. I’ve been known to douse a fry up in Vengeful Spirit Hot Sauce and I love it so that much we even made a beer with it last year,

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

A battered half pizza supper - it’s wrong on so many levels but also so right. There’s a chippy in Kinross near where I grew up that always has a place in my heart since I had lots of lunch time specials there during school.

Tell us about your first food memory?

Trying paella on holiday in Menorca with my mum. I’ve always been an adventurous eater even as a kid, so a seafood paella, which would’ve sent other kids running, was the perfect meal to expand my palate. It’s still a dish which unlocks a lot of nostalgia for me.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?

The Palmerston is one of my favourite Scottish restaurants, with relaxed bistro vibes, an upmarket feel, and an ever-changing menu using lots of fresh Scottish produce. It’s a lovely little gem tucked away in Haymarket. We’re very lucky to have them as neighbours of The Wee Vault, our tasting room and bottle shop.

What would be your last supper?

My wife’s homemade lasagne has all the flavour of a restaurant dish but with all the home comfort I could ever want. There’s magic in every layer. She’s a fantastic cook but this particular meal is her speciality and it’s something I wouldn’t want to live without.

Starter or pudding?

I do have a sweet tooth, but I’ve always preferred starters.

Do you have any food hates?

I’ve never been a big fan of melon. There’s something about the texture that I’ve never enjoyed. However, we’ve used this fruit in Vault City beers before and it’s a great flavour to work with.

What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner and who would you invite?

For starters, I’d have prosciutto wrapped scallops with lemon and parsley butter. My main would be beef Wellington with dauphinoise potatoes and for dessert, I’d have a cheeseboard from IJ Mellis. I’d invite Elon Musk to talk tech; Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro who was a childhood musical hero of mine; and lastly Henok Fentie, who founded Omnipollo, a Swedish microbrewery who make some incredible, innovative beers.

What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

There’s surely no greater foodie destination than New York. The city that never sleeps means you can essentially have whatever you want at any time. I see it as a hub for people at the top of their game, and I can’t wait to go back.

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Vault City Brewing moved into their purpose-built brewery in Portobello last year and have recently launched their Raspberry Sour and Tropical Sour products into Tesco stores nationwide.

For more information, see www.vaultcity.co.uk

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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