A Brief Guide to Glasgow's Best Breweries
Glasgow has a rich history of alcohol appreciation (Buckfast? Irn Bru Cosmo? Anyone?) but we don’t just mean in the sense that we like to have a wee pint and maybe pop traffic cone on statues, drunkenly book a trip to South America or get ANOTHER flight diverted every so often. Apart from the more newsworthy drinkers amongst us, there are also a growing tribe of folk who obsess over flavour and consider the creation of alcohol as an art form. Historically, this prestige was reserved for the whisky distillers, but now you’ll be hard pushed to find a Finnieston bar without a craft beer or two and some beer tasting (different from beer drinking – honest). We take a look at the history of brewing to present day, and give some top tips on how to get started as a brewer or beer connoisseur in Glasgow.
In the beginning, there was beer
In the early middle ages, drinking water was hard to come by. Most would drink beer or ale, and some argue that this, combined with the lack of decent TV, led to the violence and destruction that would characterise the age. In all seriousness, it is likely that the monks of Glasgow Cathedral would have taken responsibility for brewing beer for the town, and that this would have been aided by the presence of the Molendiner Burn, now covered by a road. All evidence seems to have disappeared, probably during the violence of the reformation years, during which the cathedral was lucky to remain standing.
By the time the 18th century arrived, choice was more of a concern and brewing beer became a money-maker rather than a necessity. The first registered brewery in Glasgow was opened in Anderston in 1762, and this sketch dates from 1827, showing the brewery on the left and the Clyde in front. In 1884, the big one arrived. The Wellpark Brewery was established on a spot which was no stranger to brewing, but this year marked the biggest and most efficient brewery yet, still making the world famous Tennents beer today. We wonder what the man with the plan Hugh Tennent would have thought of TITP nowadays?
Modern Day Glasgow Brewers
In the 80s and 90s, the Glasgow breweries struggled and many were closed down within a few years of starting. Recent times have been a little kinder, and allowed for a craft market to flourish, with more attention paid to the delicacies of a good tasting pint than ever before.
Clockwork Beer Company (1997)
With 8 craft ales brewed on site, it’s no wonder that the Clockwork Beer Company continues to draw the punters in. From light and fruity to dark and strong, there’s a wee ale for everyone that’s served in a traditional Scottish style – Aitken Tall Fonts for anyone who’s clued up on their brew-speak. Want to find out more? They offer tours, tastings, and delicious food. Check it out.
Drygate has become an artist studio for brewers, seasoned and novice, offering meetups and brewing sessions for the beer aficionados. They run tours, tastings, the occasional club night, great food, and of course, amazing craft beer. We look forward to seeing what’s next on the agenda!