Since uprooting to Scotland and becoming bar manager at six°north, Sam Pitt has made quite an impact at the popular city centre venue.
Situated on Littlejohn Street, six°north has been known for serving up modern, artisanal beers driven by Belgian brewing traditions since establishing in 2013.
And boasting as many as five six°north sites across Scotland, not to mention its Laurencekirk-based brewery, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to experiencing the continental feel within one of its Belgian-inspired bars.
Sam was initially drawn to the concept and character of the business, leaving him eager to learn the ropes behind their Aberdeen-based venue and enhance its offering even further.
Despite having only been part of the team since last year, the bar manager has implemented a new food menu and launched regular music and beer tasting events. And he aims to continue brewing up plans for future projects.
Sam said: “I’m originally from Essex. Initially, I came up here for university and got myself a part-time job working at Ardoe House Hotel for a bit of extra money.
“While I was there, I worked my way up the ranks to become bar manager at the hotel, so I found myself running all the functions and kept everything in order. It was really good fun, but as time went on I fancied a bit of a change.
“I loved six°north beer, as well as the ethos of the business and the fact that despite how popular it’s become, it’s still a relatively small, down to earth and close-knit company.
“So, when this opportunity came up I thought it was the perfect fit and went for it. Now I’m living the dream.”
Always aiming to keep his customers satisfied, Sam ensures the bar’s tap list is updated regularly with a huge range of the best products on offer.
“We have 10 of our own beers on tap here permanently,” Sam said.
“Between the core range, hops, specials and collaborations with other breweries, there’s a good variety on offer. The seasonal beers come out once a year and they reflect that specific time.
“In the winter, big rich warming beers tend to be more popular, including one of my personal favourites – the Chapeau Triple Hop. Whereas during the summer months, you need light and refreshing drinks.”
Sam said he thinks seasonal products are important because it keeps things fresh for customers.
“With regards to our tap list, it changes constantly apart from a few staples, where we’ll alternate between the specials and collaborations,” he said.
“Our most popular product would be the Wanderlust wheat beer because I can’t think of another brewery based in Scotland that makes a straight Belgian style wheat beer.
“It’s based on the original Hoegaarden recipe, has no bitterness and is really refreshing, so it’s a real treat for those that are fans of that style.”
As well as drinks products, six°north now serves mouthwatering smoke and barbecue spit-roast dishes, produced by Aberdeen-based business Smoke & Soul.
A concept thought up by Sam himself, the exciting new food offering has gone down a treat with visitors, and the bar manager said business has improved significantly.
Sam said: “When I started, the venue had meat and cheese platters but I always thought with this amount of space a larger food menu could be added and work really well.
“Originally, the whole idea around it was great as it would result in people staying a bit longer and fill themselves up, rather than drink here but head somewhere else to eat.
“So, we hosted some food pop-up events where I invited local companies like Muchacho, Smoke & Soul and The Pig’s Wings to do a takeover of the kitchen for either one day or a full weekend. They all went really well.
“Off the back of that, I asked Smoke & Soul if they fancied coming in to work full-time. It was a bit of an out-there question, and the owners initially said they weren’t sure about the idea and wondered if it was too big a risk for them.
“Thankfully, they did end up coming back to me and said they wanted to go for it because Smoke & Soul is their passion.
“Everyone who follows them knows their food is great, so they grabbed it with both hands and they’ve been here for around one month now. It’s going really well, especially at weekends.”
Increasing Sam’s list of tasks even further, the venue plays host to regular beer tastings, where local breweries are invited along to showcase their products.
But despite a hectic work schedule, he admitted his role comes with an abundance of perks.
“The beer tastings are completely bespoke. We normally have people getting in touch for stag dos or birthday parties and we’ll tailor the whole event around what they like or fancy on the day.
“I love when people attend these events or approach the bar, admit they’re not the biggest fan of beer and ask for something that will help change their perception of it.
“This happens more than you would think and it’s great when they turn around and say they enjoy the drink I’ve served them.
“Another highlight for me was getting the food on a permanent basis. It took a lot of persuasion to get that in place and it’s gone really well. Everyone’s accepting it was a really good move.
“I’ve also loved improving the whisky and gin selection for those that prefer drinks other than beer, there’s options for everyone and it means they don’t feel isolated.
“I have other ideas for the future up my sleeve and hopefully, we’ll get a few things sorted in terms of a refurbishment.
“Getting our hands on some comfortable seating is next on my to-do list, just to make the place a little bit cosier.
“We also started music nights as well with Blair McLeod and I’d love to do them a bit more regularly.
“All in all, I want to continue providing the best experience for customers as possible, and make sure they’re having a good time and a laugh while they’re in the bar. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”