Glasgow's newest bar, Bavaria Brauhaus, had its official launch last night, prior to the public opening at noon today. We had a look round the venue, which is inspired by the large, convivial beer halls of Munich, Germany. Here's what we noticed - and apologies in advance for some blurriness, we may have sampled a beer or two.
It's a decent size
The beer halls of southern Germany are typically massive affairs, and while Bavaria Brauhaus isn't quite on the same scale as those behemoths, it's a far cry from your local bar and lounge. Formerly the Madness Theatre of Fun on the corner of Bothwell Street and Wellington Street (handily located for Central Station), the venue's high ceilings comfortably both house a bustling floor area and upper balcony area - and, if you've never had the pleasure of crossing a bridge within a bar, we can highly recommend it. Talking of the ceilings...
The frescos are beautiful
It's unlikely you'll want to spend your entire evening craning your neck up at the roof (though you'll probably see it through the bottom of a glass more than once), but you should take a minute to admire the work that's gone into it. In addition to traditional designs like fluttering Bavarian flags and harvest emblems, artist Nichol Wheatley has included a few Scottish flourishes - including one of Glasgow's favourite sons...
Alasdair Gray's there
The above portrait is one of those nifty perspective drawings that's depicted across several surfaces and only makes sense if you see it from a certain angle (check out the work of Swiss artist Felice Varni for more examples). You can find it by looking standing at the back balcony area next to some fetching (and no doubt highly oversubscribed) leather booths, and looking towards the front of the building. And up, obviously.
There's live Bavarian music
Or at least, there was at the grand opening. The Kolonel Schnapps band provided some genuine German oompah music, interspersed with a few less-than-traditional elements - we suspect your average oompah band doesn't feature a keytar player, for example, nor is it fronted by a boisterous Glaswegian bandleader who'll stop every few songs to do some boozy call-and-response chants with the crowd. Bavaria Brauhaus is not a place to go for subtlety - instead, you'll be encouraged to respond to shouts of 'oompah, oompah' with 'stick it up your jumper' and 'charcoal, charcoal, stick it...' - well, we'll let you fill in the blanks.
At the time of writing, it's still a little rough round the edges
While the above pic shows off the lovely brass bar fittings, you may also notice that none of the taps are labelled (though this may be a conscious choice), and that a staff member is still unloading boxes of glassware in the background. The Bavaria Brauhaus crew were clearly so excited to launch the place that they did so before the place was fully finished - there were still carpenters leaving when guests started arriving (though the fresh, woody scent wafting through the place certainly didn't harm the alpine atmosphere). Naturally, it'll all be done and dusted at some point, but as with any new opening, we'd recommend bearing with them through any teething troubles.
The beer (and food) are great
True to its core theme, the Brauhaus is stocked with genuine beer hall brands, including the iconic Munich Hofbrau and highly respected Augustiner varieties. We sampled some food as well - cooked meat platters figured highly, as did bratwurst hotdogs and strudel. (You'll have to forgive us for the lack of pics on that front - they went pretty fast.)
In summary, Bavaria Brauhaus is the sort of place you'd do well to check out at least once - it's a completely different vibe to anything else in Glasgow, and provides a handy city centre outpost for good quality German beer when you can't make it out to West on Glasgow Green (or indeed, West in the West End). And yes, we know Republic Bier Halle has a fantastic selection of beers, including German ones, just round the corner, but sometimes you're in the mood for an ultra-cool beer cellar, and sometimes you want a big, airy room with lovely murals on the ceiling. And we're all for having the choice of both. Prost!