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Pub Visit - Scotland

Thomsons 1Thursday 1st May 2014

Bob Thompson

For someone who sometimes just wants a good beer in comfortable surroundings, I found that Thomson’s Bar near Haymarket station, hits the spot. It’s just one room but is definitely not a basic pub in any sense. I understand that it was purchased by Ian Whyte, a bit of a name in Edinburgh pub circles, in 2000. Yet I don’t even know if it was a bar before but guess it was.

What he done to the pub is little short of miraculous and it was all achieved by reworking salvaged oak. The result is quite stunning in a muted way. The bar, bar-back (gantry) and other panelling are all carved in the style of Alexander “Greek” Thomson, a noted Scottish architect. As can be construed from his nickname the work is in a Grecian style.

Thomsons 2Ian Whyte has specialised in creating what look like time-worn local boozers out of premises that are past their best, be it shops or pubs.

Readers of this may know the Cumberland Bar, Fraser’s Bar and the exquisite Bow Bar. All are his work and there is a separate article in BeerVisits on the Bow Bar.

In 2003 he sold the pub to the Shilling group, a small Edinburgh pub and club co., and they have proved to be safe custodians.

On entering the front door the beautiful bar is to be found on the right of the room. Seating is wooden and fixed against the walls with loose tables and chairs in front. On the walls is a fantastic array of old advertising signs, mostly for tobaccos and whiskies. The crown jewels of these are two brewery mirrors, one for Robert Younger of Edinburgh and the other of Burden’s Mild and Pale Ales from Stirling.

Thomsons 3Although there is normally a good variety of Scottish breweries’ ales available, on this visit there was a “tap takeover” by Fyne Ales. No problem there as they are some of my favourites. This had started on the 21st April and there were a total of eight available to the pub. There were six on tap when I visited.

Beers were served through a set of four hand pumps and another set of four Aitkin tall fonts that propel the beer to the glass by using air pressure.

Fyne Ales is a very remote brewery located at the head of Loch Fyne in Argyll at a place called Achadunan. Normally at this bar you would expect to encounter six to eight cask beers. On this day there were six Fyne Ales beers as follows:

Jarl (3.8%), a hoppy blonde ale.
Maverick (4.2%), a dark bitter.
Vital Spark (4.4%), a dark red ale.
Hurricane Jack (4.4%), a blonde fruity hoppy golden ale.
Avalanche (4.5%), a golden hoppy ale.
Highlander (4.8%), an amber ale.
Sublime Stout (6.8%), a stout in the Imperial style.
Landslide (6.0%), an occasional brown ale, normally in bottles, in cask exclusively for this tap take over.

This is a great pub and is recommended if you are in the Haymarket area of the city. Can get very busy when Hearts are playing at home or there is Rugby on at Murrayfield. Food is limited to pies of various kinds served only at lunchtimes Monday to Friday and toasted panninis.

Important Information:

Thomson’s Bar, 182-184 Morrison Street, Edinburgh EH3 8EB. Tel: 0131 228 5700

Open: Monday-Wednesday 12.00-23.30; Thursday/Saturday 12.00-24.00;
Friday 12.00-01.00; Sunday 16.00-23.30

The pub is just under 10 minutes walk from Haymarket station.
There are many bus routes passing close by.