Wednesday, 27 April 2016

North Hop Aberdeen: Top 10 tasters

So after recently visiting my very first Brew Dog AGM earlier this month and sampling a number of BrewDog's craft beers, which I surprisingly enjoyed (not a massive beer fan), to say I am excited for North Hop Aberdeen is an understatement. I love gin, cocktails and quirky foodies - I'm a little obsessed with finding some of the best foodies in Scotland - so whenever North Hop is on, I'm there in a flash.

Over the past two years I've been to every festival and have loved them all for different reasons. So when I found out that North Hop was retuning to Aberdeen for a second year I just HAD to check out what exhibitors were going to be there. With a capacity more than three times bigger than last year's festival, I was convinced the offering would have increased, and boy has it done so!

The festival, which takes place this May holiday weekend on Saturday 30 April from 12 noon - 5pm and 7- 12 midnight, and Sunday 1 May from 12 noon - 5pm at the AECC (Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre), is said to welcome around 3,000 people through it's doors. So to keep you guys on your toes, I've decided to pull together my top ten exhibitors you should definitely check out.

1. Crema caravan
The UK's very first Crème Brûlée van will be making its debut to North Hop in Aberdeen. Serving up some delicious Crema Catalana and Crème Brûlée with some of the finest, wackiest toppings you'll ever see, these guys know how to handle the heat and produce fantastic desserts. Served burnt to order, you won't miss them in Florence their retro Renault van!
Photos from Crema Caravan's Facebook page
2. Six°North
With all their beers unfiltered and carbonated naturally through secondary fermentation - they don't filter anything - nope, not their beer, style, brewers or venues for that matter, natures intent is left intact. Born form a passion for Belgian beer these Belgian brewers of Scotland brew their finest beers in the North-east, six degrees North of Brussels - do you like what they did there?

Photos from Six°North website 

3. Porter's Gin
Aberdeen's first gin to be distilled in the city for over 100 years. A premium gin with a traditional bold juniper body, this is a bottle full of ginny delight that you just have to take home to show off to your friends. Located in the cocktail lounge, join the Porter's Gin team for a sample or two and take home some special gin bottled cocktails created specially for North Hop too!

4. Stew n' Drew's
The Willy Wonka's of ice cream, this fantastically talented duo have nailed the creation of quirky ice cream on the head. With their own ice cream shop now open in Hopeman, these guys continue to wow festivalgoers with their wacky ingredients and funky flavours. From whisky ice cream, to cider sorbet, these guys will certainly sort out those sweet cravings. They're stationed in the Cocktail Lounge incase you're wondering...

Photo from Stew n' Drew's Facebook page
5. The Bay on the Road
Yabadabadoo do the infamous The Bay Fish and Chips have a treat for you! Established in 2006, The Bay has been serving up thousands of portions of sustainable Scottish fish and chips filling many happy tums, and winning a ridiculous amount of accolades along the way. 
For the first time ever, The Bay on the Road will be fishing out the best fish and chips, bringing something completely different to the festival's offering. If you haven't tried their insanely tasty fish and chips or homemade tartar sauce yet, then this is a top must try recommendation from me. GET IN MY BELLY!

6. FreshMex
When I saw these guys were attending North Hop I squealed a little. Since launching last year I have been a massive fan of the dishes this fiery dup have been producing. Serving tex-mex style cuisine, the duo behind this successful business have teased the tastebuds of the North-east using locally sourced, fresh ingredients. 
Customised to your liking, these guys are guaranteed to hit the spot. Pair with a craft beer or two.
Photos from FreshMex's Facebook page
7. Thistly Cross Cider
Onto my favourite Scottish cider, Thistly Cross Cider! With flavours like strawberry, ginger, elderflower, whisky and traditional cider, their fresh, tasty and oh-so-delicious ciders are a winner with me. If you're looking for something sweet and not a massive fan of craft beer then, I suggest you try out the strawberry or elderflower flavours, you won't be able to stay away.
Photo from Thistly Cross Cider's Facebook page
8.  Juniper | Gin Festivals and Events
My tipple of choice, the team behind the Juniper Festivals are hitting up the North-east especially for North Hop, showing off their delightful selection of craft gins from all over Scotland. With the opportunity to try an old, traditional flavour, or pursuing something different, there is a whole range of gins to discover in lovingly made cocktails and serves.
Try them neat, with premium mixtures or cocktails, it's up to you.
Photo from Juniper Gin Festival and Events Facebook page

9. Eden Mill
Scotland's first and only distillery/brewery combined. With everything they do small and craft and just a stones throw away from the home of golf, St Andrews, there really is nothing quite like the set up Eden Mill boasts. Beer, whisky or gin, just go try them all.
Photo from Eden Mill's Facebook page
10. Cue Barbecue
Last but not least a smoky affair with a side of serious meat sweats can only mean one thing, Cue Barbecue is attending. If you have a love for the deep South and enjoy Southern US and Latin American styles of barbecue then you're in for a treat. Never sampled them before? Well I can guarantee you'll want to after just smelling the food. 

Would recommend trying out with a craft beer again or a sour gin-based cocktail, be warned, if you're sampling their Angus & Oink sauces the Voodoo Mango sauce is hot, hot, hot. The one to try in my opinion is the BBQ sauce - now that's a winner for me.

With over 30 different exhibitors to chose from, there's something for everyone at North Hop Aberdeen. Whether you love traditional fish and chips, or are looking for the next big thing on the gin scene, or maybe you're looking to sample some of Scotland's finest craft beers, or put your tastebuds to the test with experimental ice cream, everyone will be catered for at the festival. Just try it all, you've got nothing to lose and soo much to gain!

As an added extra for Aberdeen festivalgoers, North Hop, alongside some of the fantastic exhibitors, has created a festival gin and a festival brew which will be exclusively available at the festival. The festival gin is a limited edition chilli and ginger gin created by Eden Mill. This will be available to sample at their bar, or in a perfect serve or cocktail at the Juniper bar. There are only 200 bottles (20cl) available to get your hands on, so you better be quick!

The festival brew is a 6.7% cask American pale ale brewed by Spey Valley Brewery using the Holy Cragg which Dunnet Bay Distillers utilised in their Holy Grass Vodka. So of course it only seemed right to call it Holy Spey APA!

For the full list of exhibitors and for tickets to the event follow the North Hop website link:

  For Now...

 Just Julia

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