Aberdeen city guide
Ferment's essential guide to the granite city
Thursday 28 November 2019
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Pubs and bars
Six Degrees North
6 Littlejohn St, AB10 1FF
Scotland’s best purveyors of Belgian-style beer have an excellent bar in Aberdeen’s city centre, which alongside 20 rotating taps (about two thirds of which are 6dN beers, and the remaining third guest beers), also has a well-stocked beer fridge with dozens and dozens of brews from all over the world. They also have a kitchen residency from Smoke and Soul, who serve up delicious meaty comfort foods like pulled pork, brisket, loaded fries, mac & cheese, and poutine. Yum!
The Craftsman Company
2 Guild St, AB11 6NE
This charming coffee and ale house near the city’s quayside has an industrial-meets-rustic vibe, and is the kind of place you’d be happy spending a whole day at. With plenty of options for your non-beer-loving friends such as artisan coffee and delicious cocktails, and a choice of beers from 16 taps or their long and well-thought-out bottle and can menu, there’s something for everyone. The food is great too - they have tasty breakfast options, and wholesome, seasonal small or large dishes for lunch or dinner.
4-6 Exchequer Row, AB11 5BW
Fierce Brewing’s first bar in their home town (the other being the newly-opened bar in Edinburgh) is a classy, stripped-back venue with a modern vibe and fantastic beer - you’ll have plenty of choice with their 20 taps, showcasing a mix of Fierce’s own beers and guest brews. They host proper tutored beer tastings six days a week, and their bar snacks are some of the best around - including paninis from nearby Contour Cafe, cheese and cracker boxes, olives and popcorn. Sunday Funday, anyone?
7 Stirling St, AB11 6ND
CASC is a quirky modern basement bar that specialises in craft beer (28 rotating taps and hundreds of bottles and cans), Scotch whisky (around 500 bottles to choose from) and cigars (they have a WALK IN HUMIDOR). They’re known for their friendly well-educated staff, and for their regular events - pop in and while away the evening at one of their tap takeovers or whisky tastings, or stock up on booze to take home.
Grape & Grain
31 Thistle St, AB10 1UY
Grape & Grain is a super trendy bar in the west end of the city, with the most opulent decor which looks straight out of a fancy interior design magazine. An expertly curated selection of world wines and local beers and gins, and mouthwatering cheese and charcuterie boards, plus pleasant, knowledgeable staff on hand to give recommendations, make this the ultimate spot for date night.
Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Units 49
Howe Moss Ave, Dyce, AB21 0GP
Fierce has been making beer since early 2016, and has become well-known throughout the country for the mighty selection of fruity and sour brews, flavour-packed stouts and porters, and hop-forward pale ales and IPAs - not to mention the awesome special one-offs and collabs it has come out with over the last couple of years. The brewery was founded by two ex-oil and gas workers, and their and their team’s passion for good beer shows in the many accolades Fierce has won, including Brewer of the Year and Growth Business of the Year at this year’s Scottish Beer Awards. New and exciting ventures include beer-infused hot sauce, and a range of spirits including gin and rum.
Balmacassie Industrial Estate, Ellon, AB41 8BX
Pioneers of the ‘craft beer revolution’ BrewDog definitely need no introduction. Brewing, pouring and selling beer the world over, the makers of flagship Punk IPA have certainly taken the world by storm since opening in 2007. One of their latest big projects, their Overworks brewery on the site of the original brewery in Ellon, is making some of the most exciting brews in the UK in the form of wild-fermented and sour beers, and they even have a beer hotel in the USA now. What can these guys not do?
Six Degrees North
Reekie House, Aberdeen Rd, Laurencekirk AB30 1AG
Established in 2013, Six Degrees North was born from a love of Belgian beer. Founder Robert Lindsay and his team brew six degrees north of Brussels (see what they did there?) - a clear reference to the brewing culture and traditions it takes its inspiration from. It now has five outposts across Scotland, including the Marine Hotel in Stonehaven, its hometown, and its bar in Edinburgh houses the largest tap selection in Scotland thanks to its whopping 40 draught beers.
72A St Peter St, Peterhead AB42 1QB
About an hour’s drive north of Aberdeen (or an hour and a half on public transport), Brew Toon is a great wee brewery in the nautical town of Peterhead, which is the most Eastern point of the Scottish mainland. Brew Toon brews tasty small-batch beers in its 10-barrel microbrewery, including classic styles such as lagers and American IPAs, and less common styles such as a raspberry cream ale and a mango IPA. The brewery taproom also hosts live music every weekend, and regular street food takeovers, so it’s definitely worth the jaunt out of Aberdeen!
13-15 Thistle St, AB10 1XZ
With something to suit almost every dietary requirement, and opening times spanning from early morning to late evening, this (mostly) vegan cafe is a delight for those looking for ethical produce when eating out. Come for the coffee and cake, stay for the freshly homemade soups, salads, and hotpots. Plus, there’s a great community feel around the cafe, as they host regular events like live music, art exhibits, and yoga classes. Oh, and they also have Foodstory Zero, a zero waste cafe within the campus of the University of Aberdeen, which is a genius idea if you ask me.
242 Holburn St, AB10 6DB
If you like your meat smoked, spicy and slathered in sauce then this is the place for you. Maggie’s Grill specialise in BBQ and Cajun cuisine, and pride themselves on the quality of their meats and produce, which is sourced locally. Except for the hot sauce, which is imported from Louisiana for authenticity! Simple decor and finger-lickingly good food made from scratch - you can’t go wrong. Bring your pals and get one of their giant BBQ platters!
9 Correction Wynd, AB10 1HP
With modern surroundings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a thoughtfully-selected drinks menu, Moonfish Cafe has been delighting foodies for over 15 years. This gorgeous, Michelin-starred bistro offers fine dining in an unpretentious setting, and has a small yet varied menu of innovative dishes which constantly change depending on the seasons. If dinner is slightly out of your price range, go at lunchtime for their set menu which is very reasonably priced!
Yorokobi by CJ
51 Huntly St, AB10 1TH
Yorokobi is a family-owned joint specialising in Japanese and Korean food. They offer a lot of options, but they do everything really well with only the finest ingredients - choose from traditional sushi, sashimi and nigiri, or pick from the extensive rolls & maki rolls section, or maybe you want something warm and cosy like noodles or katsu curry, or choose something from their bento box menu, *takes deep breath* or simply opt for their infamous bibimbap. Yorokobi is Japanese for ‘joyous bliss’, which is what you will feel after an evening of food and sake here, trust me on this one
What to do in aberdeen
Hang out with dolphins
Aberdeen is one of the greatest places to go dolphin-spotting on the North-East coast, if not in the whole of Scotland. Head to Torry Battery since it has panoramic views across all of Aberdeen Harbour, but for a more informative dolphin-watching session, go between April and August, Thursday to Sunday, where the RSPB team are there with binoculars, brains full of knowledge, and even special activities for families. If you’re lucky, you might spot a seal or a whale too! The other best spot is Cove Bay in the South East of the city, or hit up Aberdeen Harbour Tours for a cruise which offers a greater chance since you’re actually in the sea, duh.
Visit a park or six
For such a small city, Aberdeen has so many gorgeous parks! Seaton Park, Cruikshank Botanic Gardens, Hazlehead Park, Duthie Park, Johnston Gardens, and Donmouth Nature Reserve are just a few of them - there are 14 in total. Whether you’re looking for a woodland stroll, somewhere to go dog-walking, a family day out, or to gawp at some stunning horticultural displays, there’s something for every park-going occasion in this ‘City in Bloom’.
Have a dram of proper Scotch whisky
You’re in the North of Scotland after all! Glen Garioch distillery is less than an hour away by bus, and you can get to Ardmore distillery in less than two hours with a train and bus combo. If you can’t be bothered with public transport, simply head along to the Aberdeen Whisky Shop on Union Street for one of their regular whisky tastings led by their knowledgeable, friendly staff.
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