We all know that Tennent's is horrible. Don't try and deny it. We drink it because it's cheap and, well, everywhere. But there is another world out there. A world of variety, craftsmanship and endless tasting notes. The world of Real Ale.
Tomorrow sees the opening of the 2012 Scottish Real Ale Festival. Put together by the Campaign for Real Ale, this year held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, it's a great place to learn about beer, whether a novice lagerboy or a steadfast old soak. Now, these types of things often get a bad rap; the proliferation of spectacularly bearded old men and the enthusiastic descriptions of fruity palates and floral aromas, granted, might seem a bit bewildering at first. But stick with it and you'll be rewarded with the best beers Scotland has to offer. This year there are some familiar faces to those in the know, alongside some smaller, more mysterious brewers. Williams Bros are supplying their usual range; March of the Penguins is well worth a try if you're into the dark stuff, Black Isle's Yellowhammer is an easy drink, and the Tempest Brewing Company has a couple of seasonal ales waiting to be unveiled. Beers are being judged by beery-experts right now, with prizes to be awarded tonight, so look out for their picks of the festival as well as picking your own.
If you can't make it out to Edinburgh, Glasgow does have a fine range of real ale watering holes, for when Tennent's just isn't, er, hitting the spot. Highlights include the Three Judges on Dumbarton Road, with its ever-rotating range of ales and ciders (and jazz on a Sunday afternoon), The Doublet, with 3 pumps, friendly staff and a mixed clientèle of trade unionists and comedians, and Bon Accord, currently hosting its own beer festival with ales from Lancashire and the Lakes. The 78 has an extensive range of Williams Bros beers if they take your fancy, and WEST, at the far end of Glasgow Green, brews its own on-site, if you're looking for something a bit more continental.
So put down your lager-beer and try a pint of the real stuff.