Our Beer Man’s Verdict
With an hour or so to kill before catching a train in Aberdeen, a warm and sunny evening lent itself perfectly to a beer or two.
The North East has a vibrant beer scene which is dominated by the hugely-successful self-styled punks Brewdog – whose local disciples Brewmeister are rapidly gaining on them in the notoriety stakes – while Six North has carved out a niche as the foremost Belgian-influenced brewer in Scotland. Brewdog and Six North both have their own smart pubs in Aberdeen, but I fancied somewhere different – and that led me to CASC.
It’s near the train station and, to be honest, initially doesn’t look too promising. It’s below ground level and the dark exterior offers few clues about what’s inside.
I’m glad I didn’t walk past and try elsewhere – it’s a gem.
Despite being in a basement, it feels bright and open. Yes, the usual craft beer tropes are present and correct – exposed brick, filament light bulbs etc – but it works and doesn’t feel forced. There’s a long dark wood bar, with a small wooden ‘perch’ just in front of it, and benches – with bright orange vinyl – and tables round the room. There are tall fridges filled with a selection of bottled beers alongside a – and you don’t see this too often – a walk-in humidor.
There are 24 lines – all keg (despite the name, CASC stands for Cigars, Ale, Scotch and Coffee and has nothing to do with cask). The draught offering makes few concessions for the customer – it’s clearly put together with loads of care by someone with terrific taste. So we’ve got the very best of British – well, English – like BBN, Beavertown, Buxton, Kernel and Thornbridge. Pale ales, IPAs and double IPAs dominate, but there are even a few saisons on there.
In short, everything on board looks tempting and it takes forever to choose – but I eventually opt for the 3.4 per cent Buxton saison to start (£3.60 for a two-thirds schooner). Sadly, it’s not in great shape – there’s very little of the carbonation you would usually expect from a saison and it’s tart like a gueuze.
That was the only misfire of my visit because the Kernel IPA with Columbus and experimental 360 hops (£3.40 for a two-thirds schooner) is glorious. Fruit and pine on the nose and bitter orange peel marmalade in the mouth. Amazing.
The Thornbridge Cherry Brown (£2.95 a half) is good too. An appetising burgundy hue, it has sugary fruit aromas – the cherry comes over strongly – but is woody, sharp, sweet and complex to taste.
Service was excellent throughout – the barman is clearly a hugely enthusiastic beer lover who is justifiably proud of the beer he sells and keen to spread the word.
And I’m happy to spread the word too – CASC is a fantastic place which is well worth a visit if you’re in Aberdeen. In fact, it may even merit a special visit to Aberdeen.