When Edinburgh Lost Its Bottle, I Was Left Crying Into My Beer


    I’m an Edinburgh boy born and bred, and as such I was weaned on that marvelous drink called McEwan’s Export.

    Maybe it’s my imagination or perhaps it’s something to do with the surroundings.

    But I remain convinced that it’s a bevvy which never quite tastes as good any in other place you sup it.

    I’ve lived in Glasgow and it’s never been as enjoyable, while when down in London, was better off sticking to local ales.

    So I can only content myself with the view that Edinburgh is, truly, the best place for a pint of it on draft.

    While it remains my drink of choice, there was a period when I switched to Belhaven Best in protest.

    And here’s why.

    McEwan’s used to do a lovely bottled version of Export.

    A small, brown coloured bottle with bright red flash of a label which was perfect for a quiet sup after work or keeping in the fridge at home whenever you could find some.

    It encouraged the hauf and a hauf – a bottle of Export and a wee nip of whisky, Black Bottle being my tot of choice.

    Then, a few years ago, they scrapped it. Gone. Vanished.

    There was little noise about it, except from the draymen who would often pick up a crate or two as bonus.

    When I inquired as to had it had disappeared, I was told there was simply no demand and it no longer fitted in with their brand aspirations.

    Yet certainly among my circle of friends, there are those among us who lament its passing.

    We took solace for a while in The Diggers, or The Athletic Arms to give a pub it’s Sunday name, up towards Gorgie.

    Its draft pint was the stuff of legend – another McEwan’s, an 80/-, served by some of the best staff in the land.

    You’d walk in the door, hold up your fingers for the number of pints you’d want, and they’d be waiting for you by the time you reached the bar.

    But in 2006 Scottish & Newcastle decided to thwart my enjoyment of a good beer again when they scrapped this too.

    I was convinced they were out to get me.

    Diggers, to give them their due, commissioned Loanhead based Stewart Brewing to come up with an approximation 80/- as a replacement.

    And while it’s popular, I’ve never been a fan. Too sweet and fruity and not a patch on the original in my view.

    Instead my plan was to turn to yet another Scottish & Newcastle favourite – the Edinburgh brewed Gillespie’s Stout.

    Much smoother than Guinness or Murphy’s, it was on tap at the Jinglin’ Georgies among other local bars.

    But once again, Scottish & Newcastle scrapped it after hooking up with Beamish & Crawford, deciding it had become surplus to their portfolio’s requirements.

    In truth, I’d be better off giving up on Scottish & Newcastle beer if they keep axing the best ones.

    But with plans now submitted to redevelop the old Fountainbridge Brewery site into a new cultural quarter, I’ll hold off for now, in the hope any new bar there will be populated by a few ghosts of Edinburgh beers past.