Edinburgh comes alive during the Festival, as we welcome the world to our wonderful city.
It’s a glorious spectacle and the buzz in the air is tangible and exciting. However, sometimes it can be too much – crowded pavements thronged with slow-moving tourists, packed pubs and restaurants – and you need to seek temporary respite.
Where better to go than the seaside?
So that’s how I found myself – fatigued after just a couple of hours being jostled at Festival venues – in Portobello on a showery midweek evening.
The rain ruled out a stroll along the prom or the High Street so I sought shelter in the nearest place available, which happened to be Guild of Foresters.
Previously the Foresters Arms, it was transformed last year from a traditional old-school boozer to a bright, family-friendly bar which offers up a tempting-looking food menu.
The décor is stylishly weathered, with remnants of vintage wallpaper on the pillars, exposed brick, distressed wood and old maps. It feels fitting for a seaside venue, and is comfortable and relaxed.
Large floor-to-ceiling windows open up right on the High Street, although they are thankfully firmly closed tonight.
Perhaps best of all, there’s an eccentric little beer garden out back – like the nearby Palm Tree – with brightly coloured pint-sized beach houses acting as snugs.
Back inside, the beer on offer is okay – West, Drygate, Innis & Gunn and Heverlee on keg, with Williams on cask. However, the ever-reliable Jarl from Fyne is on cask, so I start with a pint of this light and citrusy delight (£3.60) and it’s great as always.
I’ve never been much of a fan of the Glasgow-based West brewery, but decide to try a half of their Hefe (£2.20) to steel me for a stroll back to Edinburgh. To my pleasant surprise, it’s a really strong take on the traditional German wheat hefeweizen – it’s fruity, smooth and makes for really enjoyable drinking.
In a comfy seat with a decent beer, and good music inside and rain outside, the Guild of Foresters was a difficult place to leave. It’s a really pleasant place to pass some time.
When the sun is shining – and the big windows flung open out front and the beer garden out back – I can imagine it being an enormously popular proposition. While it’s nice to visit anytime, it particularly merits a visit during the Festival, especially on those rare occasions when the weather is fine.