Usually, this column is used to highlight a cocktail recipe created just for The Tribe or showcase a local restaurant or bar with an exceptional drink on offer. This week, however, it is absolutely crucial that all new students and newcomers to St Andrews are introduced to the sheer joy that is Thistly Cross Cider.




As you new folk will come to know, if you haven’t already, The St Andrews Brewing Co. is a student favourite because its location, ambiance, and extraordinary menu of ales, lagers and ciders.  However, the Brewing Co. also has Thistly Cross on tap, which is perhaps my favorite thing about it. As a person for whom beer drinking is often more of a chore than a way to relax, I’ve been working my way through the ciders of the world, but in Thistly Cross, I have found near perfection. It is sweet, crisp, and supremely drinkable. The bubbles cut the sweetness nicely, but don’t distract from the delicately balanced flavours. And, unlike some lower quality ciders, the taste doesn’t grow sour or bitter are you keep drinking. It remains exceptional throughout.

Farmer Ian Rennie and artist-turned-cidermaker Peter Stuart began producing Thistly Cross in 2008 out of a farm shed in the East Lothian countryside. Rennie and Stuart began with the classic Farmhouse Cider, but have since expanded to a full line of six varieties, including strawberry, ginger, elderflower and whisky cask-aged. They vary from virtually non-alcoholic to a hefty 7.2% ABV and can also be found bottled at retailers around town like Luvians Bottle Shop. Particularly appealing to student sensibilities, especially given the taste and strength, is the fact that a glass of Thistly at the Brewery comes in at just under £3, a steal in the world of the £5 pint.


Find Thistly Cross at the St Andrews Brewing Co. on South Street, Luvians Bottle Shop on Market Street,
and online at


Reviews from St Andrews Students:

“Thistly Cross is the tastiest, cheapest, and most all-around enjoyable drink to get sloshed on”

“Tastes like cider, hits like absinthe.”

“It’s my absolute favourite thing to drink. The ginger cider is unbelievably smooth, and the strawberry one tastes so fresh. It’s really high quality stuff, and it’s good at all hours of the day.”

Reviews from Critics:

“…a refreshing, lightly sparkling cider that does away with the sharp bubbles of commercial ciders. Light and fruity to taste, more complex flavours develop.”
-The Drinking Man’s Guide to Scotland

“The first mouthful (and the last and every one in between actually) had a richness of flavour like you had bitten into a juicy ripe apple. Obviously this apple had been liberally dipped in honey, because that was the other taste. The sweetness of the apples coated the tongue in a deep blanket which lingered long after you had swallowed.”
-Scottish Food Review


Olivia Ives


Photo Credit: Olivia Ives