This was the slogan employed years ago to attract people to Glasgow and change its image. Yesterday it applied to my beery wanderings. Under blue skies and a shiny sun I set off with hope. First up was the State Bar in Holland St which most people seem to think has been a traditional island bar with much wood, completely unchanged since God was a boy. I remember it from the 70's, all chrome and mirrors, yet I still read that it is "unchanged". I digress. Today it is a calm oasis with good traditional beer. Two halves were ordered as punters started drifting in for attractive looking lunches. A lot were drinking cask. Signs were good. Houston's Killellan was pale with biscuity malt, a touch sharp maybe, with a clean bitter finish. Fine. Next was a more unusual beer. Williams Bros Kelpie is made with a touch of seaweed. It is jet black with no head despite a sparkler, with a roast malt and iodine nose. Taste is stout like with a mineral salt edge. It was very tart through to a clean dry, bitter, mineral salt finish. A very interesting and complex beer. All in all, a good start. I passed with some reluctance on beers from Salopian and O'Hanlon's. I had to be back sober at Mum's for my tea!
I popped in to Hengstler's Circus just across the road. Here, Bridge of Allen's Bannockburn 1314 was on form, cool full bodied, with sweet malt and a slight bitter finish. A few more hops wouldn't have gone amiss, but good all the same. Then to my first ever real ale pub, the Bon Accord. It was there in 1974 I first tasted cask conditioned ale. McLay's 70/- if I recall correctly. Today it is still a Glasgow Real Ale mecca. I was spoilt for choice. Two halves again. This time Kelburn Misty Law and Brew Dog Peroxide Punk. The Misty Law was an outstanding 4% beer. Pale, with a distinct American hop nose, good malt backbone, with bitterness throughout to a resinous, lasting, hop finish. Great! It was with some trepidation I turned to the Brew Dog. I wanted to like this. As Alastair Darling hammered nails into the beer on-trade coffin in the background, I picked up my glass. A slight toffee aroma was followed by a immediate bitterness. the malt was fairly thin. The beer was rather like a stewed hop tea with some underlying sweetness and a bitter, slightly sticky finish. It wasn't a bad beer by any means, but coming as it did after the outstanding Kelburn, it came a bad second. Maybe next time? Then a half of Fisherman's Pride from the Windy Goat Brewery. This five percenter is chestnut brown, caramel nose. A bitter, roasty, dark cake fruits interior surprises and delights. It drinks with a full body and a lasting bitter finish. Excellent. I also had a quick half of Clarks Westgate Gold which had papery malt, some astringency and a bitter finish. I did not try any others as I simply had to have a full pint of the Misty Law. What a good beer.
Thus satisfied I headed back to the station, breaking my journey at Partick for the walk along Dumbarton Road to the Three Judges. I have to say the choice here was poor, but a half of Strathven Clydesdale IPA was refreshing, though it is an ordinary bitter and by no stretch of imagination an IPA. I had a half of something else which I forget, but which couldn't have impressed. I was disappointed, but in fairness the barman advised they were clearing the decks for a forthcoming Mild, Stout and Porter Festival. Fair enough then!
So Glasgow delivered. The pick of the beers for me is obvious. Step forward Killellan. The State Bar is just wonderful though, cosy and inviting with a pride in its beer. Don't miss it!
From the archives - Part One - As some of you will know, my wife has been rather poorly since the start of the *New Year*, after suffering a nasty chest infection which developed into ...
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