I noticed from Tandleman's increasingly plaintive tweets on his recent jaunt to Glasgow that he wasn't having much luck finding good beer.
This is a shame, because there's plenty of good beer being made in Scotland at the moment. It's getting hold of it that's the problem, and that's hard enough for those of us who live here.
Whenever I've been in Manchester or Sheffield I've been struck by the way these cities actually seem to have a beer scene, in the way other cities have a music scene. They are also in a part of the country that has a living, uninterrupted real ale tradition, where you can often drink beer from a local brewer in one of their tied pubs.
Scotland doesn't have that. Cask beer was more or less destroyed in the 1960s (thanks, Bass and S&N) and what we have now is a revival. Most of our breweries, too, are relatively recently established micros selling to a limited number of free trade outlets.
This all makes for a different dynamic of beer supply. You can't just go into a pub belonging to a local brewery and expect to find something drinkable. The specialist pubs and old-established freehouses are the only reliable sources for a decent pint. There is an abundance of these in Edinburgh, and an adequate number in Glasgow, but elsewhere they become like welcome oases. It's not as bad as it once was but visiting many a Scottish town is still pretty grim unless you know exactly the right place to go. And sometimes there isn't a right place.
One related phenomenon that has always struck me is that the market for real ale in Scotland is (as far as I can make out) in the big cities, but many of the breweries themselves are in remote locations: Arran, Colonsay, Loch Fyne, Islay, Skye, Lewis, Ross-shire, Fraserburgh, Orkney, Shetland. I understand there are sensible reasons for this but it still seems odd – or maybe I'm just being a townie and these places are not as far away as I think.