No, not the discovery that I am a secret teetotaller and that all this is made up, but the brewery of that name in Glasgow. On my visits to Dumbarton I have seen their beers here and there, well, mostly there really, in the odd Glasgow hostelry, but a trip to Glasgow and the chance to see it for myself, was too good to miss.
We started with the train to Glasgow and a deliberately walk down Sauchiehall St rather than getting off in the City Centre. Boy could you eat well there, with trendy eateries, curry house, high street chains and much more abounding. Back in the day I spent a few weeks learning how to assess Supplementary
Benefit in that neck of the woods and really, apart from the shop
fronts changing, the area is much the same. Food wasn't our intention though, but just to get a feel for it all again and for E to be reminded how smart a city Glasgow is.
It was a fine walk, but man does not live by Rennie Macintosh and nostalgia alone. I'd told E about Shilling Brewery, so in we went. It would have been around one o'clock when we rocked up and found just one other customer. Given that there was four or five staff around, I found the welcome as I found it before. Absent. Staff seemed for happier chatting amongst themselves and taking selfies than ministering to customers. Nonetheless, E liked the place - as do I - and the beer, both in house and bought in, was interesting and tasty as we sipped our selection of halves over the next hour or so. As the pub got a little busier we had a good time just taking it all in. Oddly the first new customers, in an empty bar chose to sit beside us. I had to move my chair back repeatedly as one leaned back on his, nudging mine. Beats me why people do this.
After a desultory look around the shops we went out through George Square and headed for the eastern part of the city. E was consulting her phone map and was offered directions more than once. People make Glasgow indeed, but as it is a straight line, not really needed. Drygate is an offshoot of the giant Tennent Caledonian Brewery at Wellpark. Now Irish owned, the brewery dates back to 1556 and its lager is the go to drink in Scotland in a way you just wouldn't believe. It makes the devotion of the koala to eucalyptus leaves seem like a passing fad.
Drygate is on two floors just off the main road. Inside it is a large modern brewery tap, very reminiscent of an American Brewpub with a long bar, bench seating and large shared tables with the brewery visible behind a perspex wall. Service is attentive and helpful and the crowd, mainly young was leavened by quite a few who weren't. Beers brewed in house were supplemented by guests and the atmosphere was chatty and vibrant. What was not to like? Only the pervading smell of cooking oil which drove us upstairs to another huge room and bar, this time much brighter, more airy and much less like your local chip shop. Beer was pretty good including Drygate's cask and keg offerings, though a black mark goes to the assurance that Thornbridge Kolsch is meant to be cloudy. Presumably then it was meant to be stale too? The food looked great and again the atmosphere was relaxed and convivial. This place works really well and is a great addition to the local scene. Top marks to TCB for doing it.
On the way back we enjoyed a tour of the Merchant City and even had a pint in BrewDog. Is it just me or are all their pubs just a bit grey, gloomy and utilitarian?
The photos show my impulse purchase from a posh market stall and the ever lovely E beside a well known landmark. Drygate Brewery entrance finishes the set.
We did eat. Lovely Tapas in Cafe Andaluz by Queen St Station. Crap bread though.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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