2015 is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink – a 12-month, EventScotland and VisitScotland sponsored celebration of the country’s natural larder and Scottish producers of quality cuisine and beverages. To get your year-long eating and drinking odyssey off to a suitable start, and just in time to spoil your January abstinence, here’s a round-up of five of the best craft beer brands made in Scotland and a recommendation as to where in Glasgow you can sample each boutique brew fresh from the fridge or tap.
A marriage of mutual convenience between Williams Bros and Tennents, Drygate is situated partly in a 1930s-era former box factory beside the Tennents brewery in the East End. A so-called ‘experiential’ micro-brewery (you can watch the brewers at work through a glass partition from the comfort of the brewery bar-restaurant), it unites all the quality and class Williams has come to be recognised for with the rich resources a big brand partner can bring to the table. As well as experimental, small-batch brews such as, say, the 7.1 percent Ryebock Classics malted rye-heavy German bock lager, Drygate’s ‘core’ offerings include Bearface Lager, the unusual Outaspace Apple Ale, and the gorgeous Gladeye IPA, each with funky labelling designed by Glasgow School of Art students.
Find Drygate beers at The Vintage @ Drygate, Drygate Brewing Co. 85, Drygate, G4 0UT .
Describing themselves as a ‘traditional brewery’ rather than a craft brewery per se, Barrhead-based Kelburn Brewing Company’s exceptional real ales are a reminder that great brewing is a tradition as old as the hills in Scotland – a tradition they’ve sought to rediscover since commencing brewing in 2002. Their extensive range – among which the hoppy, clean and refreshing Goldihops is always a standout – isn’t found as widely in Scottish pubs and shops as others on this list, but there’s always great reward in seeking it out.
Find Kelburn beers at Brel, Ashton Lane, G12 8SJ.
Okay, so WEST is a brewery in the German, Reinheitsgebot purity-law ordained brewing tradition, which is different to the more ale-orientated craft beer thing. But the well-established brewery/beer hall based in the extravagant Templeton Building by Glasgow Green have made in-roads in the hoppier end of the market too with their GPA, a ‘new breed of IPA’ as they put it, made with both malted barley and wheat and strongly hopped with American Chinook and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops. Now that’s what we call kraft werk.
Find WEST Beers at WEST, Templeton Building, Glasgow Green, G40 1AW.
Having successfully put the Clackmannanshire town of Alloa – Scotland’s former ‘beer capital’ in the 18th and 19th centuries due to its density of breweries – back on the map over the last decade, Williams Bros have been nothing short of a revelation on the Scottish craft brewing scene. Originally founded in Glasgow as a homebrew shop making ancient ‘Fraoch’ Heather Ale, the family-run company went for broke in 2004 after taking over the old Forth Brewery in Alloa. Since then their beers have found their way into most of the best bars, pubs and restaurants in Scotland, and even major supermarkets. Their range grows all the time – almost 30 recipes and counting – but you can’t go far wrong with staples such as Joker IPA and Cock O' The Walk red ale.
Find Williams Bros beers at Inn Deep, 445 Great Western Road
The big beast among Scottish craft brewers, BrewDog are making a name for themselves all over the world, with their beers widely distributed to 55 markets worldwide and their bars opening up in cities from Stockholm to Tokyo and São Paulo. Their branding, brewing style and ethos (they’re the self-styled ‘punk brewers’) is loud, provocative and full-on. If you like that kind of thing, then you’ll love their enormous range, which saw 36 new releases in 2014 alone. Their so-called ‘headliners’ include Five AM Red Ale, Brixton Porter and the near-ubiquitous Punk IPA.
Find BrewDog beers at BrewDog, 1397 Argyle Street, G3 8AN.