Pubs serving real ale in Fife
David Pollock sups his way along an unofficial real ale trail
Although Fife doesn’t enjoy the same brewing tradition of similar rural areas in England, there is a real ale community to be found. Most widely recognised around the county as the hub of this scene is the Harbour Bar on the High Street, Kirkcaldy, which has served ales from its own Fyfe Brewery, sited in converted sailworks to the pub’s rear, for the last fifteen years.
‘We’ve made about fifty or so beers,’ says Fyfe’s owner Nick Bromfield. ‘The demand comes from agencies down south, who want a new beer almost every month to satisfy the demands of tickers (real ale fanatics). There isn’t so much going on in Fife, and obviously you have to travel a bit, but we do get plenty of local custom and a few of the real ale guys travelling up specially from England.’
Another essential stop on central Fife’s real ale trail is the Albert Tavern in Freuchie, which was named CAMRA’s Scottish & Northern Irish Pub of the Year in 2009. A homely bar on the edge of the farming village, its low ceiling is decorated with the beermats of past guest ales, and added attractions include a quiz on Monday, pie night on Thursday and winter game nights, featuring meals of seasonal game and whisky tutorials.
Other local bars serving real ale include the Crown Tavern in Burntisland and the Well Country Inn, just over the Fife regional border in Scotlandwell, while the area hosts two annual festivals: the CAMRA-endorsed Kingdom of Fife Beer Festival in Glenrothes (April/May) and the Dunfermline Beer Festival (October).
‘The good places to drink ale in Fife are quite far apart,’ recognises Neil Wilkie of Loch Leven Brewery, a small home-based operation just over the county’s border, ‘so make sure you take a bus timetable.’
An Ale Trail for central Fife and its fringes
469–471 High Street, Kirkcaldy, 01592 264270 or 646211, www.fyfebrewery.co.uk
2 Main Street, Freuchie
Well Country Inn
Scotlandwell, near Kinross, 01592 840444, www.thewellcountryinn.co.uk
55 High Street, Burntisland, 01592 891363
Kingdom of Fife Beer Festival
Dunfermline Beer Festival
Loch Leven Brewery
Blairadam, near Kelty, 01383 831751, www.lochlevenbrewery.com