My Favourite Pubs in Glasgow

NB – this list is in no particular order…

1. The Three Judges

I love an ‘old man pub’, and the 3J is everything you’d hope for from this category. Dark, cosy interior, cheap drinks, no music and a solid real ale selection. They’re owned by Stonegate so have access to a large ale selection (I think there may be 8 or 9 cask ale lines from memory…?). They’ve recently got two Brewdog lines in if you fancy something cold and fizzy; Punk and Elvis Juice, and usually a decent malt of the month. If you want a quiet pint or two on a Friday night, you can’t beat the 3J!

2. Inn Deep

Owned by the Williams Bros, this pub couldn’t be in a better location. Below Valhalla’s Goat (which they also own), right by the river and just a stone’s throw from Kelvingrove Park. Heaven. On a sunny day, this is the place to go for a beer as the atmosphere is amazing. They have a pretty impressive line up both on draft and in bottle/can so every time you go there’s a nice new wee surprise to try.

3. The Pot Still

This is any whisky lover’s dream pub. Whiskies as far as the eye can see in a great setting with super friendly, knowledgeable staff. They’ve got a few cask lines with rotating Scottish Breweries and a nice bottle selection too. You’re pretty lucky if you get a seat as I don’t think I’ve ever been and it’s not packed, but I think that’s testament to what an excellent pub it is!

4. Drygate

Sitting drinking a beer whilst watching how it’s made is always cool, right? Well that’s exactly what you can do in Drygate. The huge windows show the brewery in all its glory. They also have a great outdoors area upstairs and a big events space which plays host to some pretty cool shows/markets and even beer festivals. As well as the staple Drygate beers, they also have beers from their experimental kit which they encourage staff to get creative with, and a good selection from quality brewers with some pretty rare kegs available.

5. Grunting Growler

A very small ‘pub’, Grunting Growler is the passion of Jehad Hetu, a lovely guy who’s been determined for years to set up his own growler joint. The space on Old Dumbarton Road is really cool with some great bottle fridges, and a few keg lines. It used to be takeaway only but in the past year, there is now a wee table to sit in and drink too, and I’ve seen on Facebook that there appears to be a screen set up ahead of the World Cup…

My boyfriend and I have been trying to shortlist the best places to go to watch matches but this has got to be no.1!

NB this photo is ancient and there’s been a bit of a change of decor since!

6. The Park Bar

Not going to lie…the beer in here isn’t great, but everything it lacks for in beer, it makes up for in atmosphere. If they got a few good lines in, this would hands down be my favourite Glasgow pub.

7. 6° North

This is the place to go if you like Belgian beers. I have to admit that I’m not the biggest Belgian fan but they always have an unusual keg line up with breweries I’ve never tried before so it’s really good for experimenting. It’s got a lovely spacious and light atmosphere too so it’s ideal for a sunny Sunday afternoon.

8. The State Bar

This is the closest good pub to my office so I occasionally pop in ‘just for one’ after work. They have probably the best cask line up I’ve seen so far in Glasgow, often with beers from Fallen, Loch Lomond as well as breweries from further afield. The bar is a circle in the middle of the room with seating areas all around so there’s often a wee seat tucked up at the back to sneak into.

9. The Counting House

Wetherspoons gets a bad name but I’m 100% sticking up for The Counting House. They have a huge beer selection and put a lot of effort into working with local breweries which is evident in both their keg and cask line up. Also, their app is class. Saying all that though, I’d probably avoid it on a Friday/Saturday night…

10. Crossing the Rubicon

The sweet potato and carrot korma from here was one of the best curries I’ve ever eaten. They’ve recently sadly done away with their curry menu and replaced it with pizza and I’m heartbroken. I’m sure the pizza is amazing if their previous menu was anything to go by (I’ve not been to try it yet), but you just can’t beat curry and beer!! I love the decor in here, loads of really cool illustrations, and they always have a good beer line up. They’ve also got a nice beer garden area on Great Western Road which is excellent for people watching.

 

 

 

Let me know if there are any gems I missed – always looking for new places to try!

Heverlee

Tuesday has always felt like a bit of a black sheep amongst the days of the week. As a homage to Tuesdays, I’ve decided to do a slightly different kind of post today.

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Heverlee is a Belgian pilsner style lager which has taken Scotland and Ireland by storm. It’s the baby of Joris Brams, a Belgian man who’s been living in Scotland since 2000. I was lucky to have a chat with Joris to find out more about Heverlee and why it’s become so popular over here. Even more luckily, I’m going out to visit the brewery at the beginning of next month. I can’t wait!!

Heverlee is brewed at the Abbey of the Order of the Premontre which has gone through some massive developments in recent years. It’s had around €14 million in investment to restore it to its former glory, including a fully working mill. The abbey was founded in 1129 and its workers focussed on farming and fishing. They built the original brewery to cater for these workers and they brewed a really light, low alcohol beer to keep them hydrated. Belgium is famous for its dark, high alcohol beers but these are more associated with the Trappiste abbeys who had onsite breweries which were to make profit so they had time to roast the malts and make higher alcohol contents. However, it wasn’t the highest interests of abbeys like the Premontre to spend time and money roasting malts…and plying their workers with 8% beers! Unfortunately the brewery closed down in 1550…. until now that is…

 Joris grew up about 2 miles away from the Premontre Abbey and used to play in the surrounding fields as a child. When he moved to Scotland, he wasn’t a huge fan of British ales and was frustrated with the lack of Belgian lagers available.  This was the catalyst that fuelled him to bring his favourite drink –  Belgian lager – to Scotland. He returned to Belgium and began to research the original recipe brewed at the abbey way back when it was originally open. Whilst chatting to Joris it became very clear that authenticity was very important to him. He wanted to keep the recipe as close to the original as possible, he even has plans to restore the original brewery! The current recipe uses a mixture of malt and maize and the renowned Saaz hop. Joris also wants to keep the monks heavily involved. They actually run the brewery and receive royalties from Heverlee sales to further fund the abbey. He’s also very adamant that while Heverlee isn’t widely available in Belgium, and it’s biggest markets are oversees, it will always be brewed in Belgium so it 100% lives up to its title of a Belgian lager.

 Heverlee is widely available throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but Joris is hoping to branch further into England, as well as the USA and Brazil! Let’s hope that Heverlee does as well in Brazil as Belgium did earlier in the year (Sorry USA…)!

Brew By Numbers 03|02 Porter Liberty

WELL HELLO THERE.

I have had a verrrry busy week. I was in Glasgow on Thursday for the launch of Menabrea, an Italian beer, then attended the Brewdog Writer’s event on Friday and then down to Edinburgh for the last weekend of the festival. Throw in some illness and a 9 hour train journey with no seat and you have a pretty exhausting weekend indeed. I’m writing this from my bed as I still feel very ill. I didn’t get to see very many shows during the festival either because I wasn’t feeling well. Terrible timing. Anyway I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself. I’ve written about my time at Menabrea and Brewdog on my Herald blog so please be sure to check that out – http://www.heraldscotland.com/author/diary-beer-girl although I think this might get published before they do so be patient dear child. I might actually do another Brewdog one on here too as there’s just so much to write about. 

 

Brew By Numbers. A very interesting concept which has torn family and friendships in two. Do you think it’s confusing and unnecessary or a clever and interesting way to label beers? I’m in the second camp. Let me explain what it’s about if you don’t already know. Skip a few sentences down if you do. Brew By Numbers give each style of their beers a number, so for example, Saisons are 01, Golden Ales are 02 and Porters are 03 etc etc. Each beer they brew in this style is then given another number which they call the recipe, so you get something like 03|02, with 02 being the Liberty. In the porters section, there is also the recipes 01 – Original and 03 – Traditional. Anyway, I think this is a fantastic concept for encouraging repeat purchases. We all like trying beers by different breweries, but if you’ve tried an 03|02, then you’re naturally going to want to try the 03|01 and 03|03 to compare all three. Clever, isn’t it?

 

Clever is all and well but it’s verging on annoying if you can’t prove your worth (also if you try a numbered beer and it’s a bit shit, you’re probably not going to rush out and buy the others since they’re likely to be a bit shit too). Well, don’t worry, Brew by Numbers can get away with it. They’re like Stephen Fry. They have the potential to be very irritating know it alls with their fancy paper labels and new way of naming their beers, but they’re really bloody good, so they earn it. And, that makes you like it. 

 

Liberty isn’t too strong for a Porter, coming in at 5.7% ABV but it packs a punch. Mixing the, rich chocolate and coffee notes with a bitter and floral hoppiness is a fantastic combination. They use Liberty hops (who’d have guessed it?!) to mirror an American style hoppy porter. I was quite surprised by the lightness of the beer despite the flavour which I really liked. I’ll be going back to try the 03|01 and 03|03. Clever, isn’t?!

 

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Gin…and beer. Heaven?

When I’m choosing beer, I don’t usually pick up whichever one has the nicest label BUT on this occasion, I went against my own rule. How could I refuse anything that has ‘Gin’ written across it in huge letters?! I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to say no to a gin and tonic. It certainly hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, once my brain had started thinking properly, rather than just saying ‘gin gin gin’, I began to wonder how that would work? I’m a big fan of beer brewed in rum and whisky casks, but I just couldn’t imagine how a gin-flavoured beer would work.

You’ll be relieved to know it isn’t actually gin flavoured. It is made using the gin botanicals from the City of London Distillery. This gives it a very floral taste along with fruity and citrussy notes. The aftertaste is quite odd and peppery, it took me a few sips before I properly began to like it so I recommend giving this one a proper shot rather than having a sip. It’s a very light ale and has an ABV of 4.1%.

Gin is brewed by Peter Haydon who has his own project at the Florence brewery called ‘Head in a Hat’. Gin is the only beer from Head in a Hat that I’ve tried but I’m really keen to taste more, especially Camembeer, which I will definitely pair with a fully stocked cheeseboard as intended. Mmmmm.

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Schiehallion

Pronounced: she-hal-i-on

One of my favourite breakfast places in London is Bill’s. After the first time I went, all I ate was breakfast food for about a week after. Recently, I went at lunch time and it was just as good. I had a chorizo burger and almost went into a hooded falcon state I was so happy whilst eating it. I was slightly disappointed with the beer selection however. There were a meagre 5 (one of which was Heineken) compared to an extensive wine list. I decided to go for the Schiehallion which I’ve had my eye on for a while but never quite got round to trying. It’s brewed by the Harviestoun brewery (they have a really nicely designed website, I highly recommend checking it out), who are most famous for Bitter and Twisted.

 Schiehallion

Schiehallion is a light, refreshing lager and is named after one of the most easy Munros to climb. The name is very fitting as the lager itself is very drinkable. At 4.8% and available in 330ml bottles, you don’t need to feel too guilty about returning to the office after a couple at lunch time. It pours a light, golden colour and didn’t have too much of a head. It was quite citrussy and a lot hoppier than some lagers, so if you’re looking for something inoffensive and light, then this is the guy for you.

 

Friday Lunchtime

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Friday’s are undoubtedly the best day of the week. However, the thing I look forward to most on Fridays is our weekly pub lunch. This week we went to the Lowlander pub on Drury lane which has a great selection of Belgian ales. I was in heaven!

Since I still had an afternoon of work left, I limited myself to one beer which made choosing almost impossible. In the end I decided to go for the Orval since I’ve heard so much about it.

It really didn’t disappoint. The Orval Brewery is trappist brewery in the Abbaye Notre-Dame Orval. The beer itself is 6.2% ABV and the first thing you notice is that it has a really distinctive aroma. It’s quite earthy and yeasty while managing to smell fresh at the same time. It has a very thick, foamy head and tastes malty and sour with hints of banana. It really is lovely, a bit more dry than other trappist ales but I’d definitely recommend trying this.

Viven Porter

If you follow my blog (or know me) then you’ll know I love anything that tastes smoky – sausages, cheese, ham and most importantly, beer! The Schlenkerla Marzen is still my favourite beer ever but I’ve found another that I think is truly delicious. At the Belgian ale tasting (see my post below) I was recommended to try the Viven Porter which is brewed by Brouwerij Van Viven, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 

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It comes in a 330ml bottle and I think the label is really pretty. You can definitely taste the smokiness but it isn’t too strong and it doesn’t overpower the other coffee, chocolatey kind of flavours. As you can see from the picture, it’s very dark in colour and has quite a high ABV – 7% although I guess this isn’t too bad for a Belgian beer! This isn’t the most summery of drinks but as the weather is beginning to get colder, this would be perfect as an alternative to a spicy red wine.

 

If you have any recommendations for smoky beers, please let me know!!