Our Beer Man’s VerdictAmbitions – and expectations – were sky-high for Drygate in Glasgow, the new venture from the team behind the Vintage in Leith.
And on my first visit, I reckon the pre-opening buzz is justified and even exceeded – this is an enormously exciting venture which has raised the bar, not just in Glasgow or Scotland but maybe even in the UK.It occupies a corner – albeit a very large corner – of the Tennent’s brewery in Drygate in the East End of Glasgow, a short stroll from the train station. Tennent’s owners C&C have invested in the operation and given over some land – but that, thankfully, seems to be the extent of the partnership.
The exterior looks incredible – a vast, dark jagged futuristic fortress. The outdoor seating at the front and the large roof terrace were busy on the sunny early summer evening I visited.
The ground floor is lively, relaxed and buzzy, a large eating area with wooden benches serving charcuterie and stylish modern fayre very much in the style of the Vintage.There’s also a bar which looks in on the large on-site brewery where the house beers will be created. I start with a half of the Drygate Gladeye (£1.90). It’s the house IPA and it’s terrific – the dry and bitter citrus bite of US hops combining with a strong malt backbone to make it taste more like a modern British IPA than a US hop-bomb.
The Drygate Outaspace (£1.90 a half) is an extraordinary creation and I absolutely loved it, but I suspect it will really polarise opinion. It’s an apple ale – not a cider or a fruit beer, but a proper apple ale. It’s simultaneously bitter and sweet with a savoury edge which means it’s refreshing without being cloying.
Upstairs, there’s a more informal beer hall drinking space which can show live sport on a large screen, and an adjoining exhibition space which holds around 300 people. I have the I Love Motueka from Manchester brewer Quantum (£6.25 a pint). It showcases the New Zealand hop perfectly – with an aroma of mangoes and fruit salad and a crisp, sharp aftertaste.
There are 24 lines – the most in Scotland and second in the UK – with 18 keg and 6 cask. The selection is strong with a focus on the best of British like Buxton, Kernel, Magic Rock, Summer Wine and Weird Beard. Williams – co-investors in Drygate – have a couple of lines too, along with a welcome curveball in the excellent 8.4 ABV Belgian ale Kwak (£4.40 a half).
The selection of bottles is excellent – around 200 available at the bars, and around 600 to take away from the slightly intimidating caged bottle shop downstairs.
Service is impeccable throughout – courteous, friendly and knowledgeable. Any criticisms would be minor and churlish – and it’s frightening to think this is still early days and they could get even stronger when they find their feet and establish what the clientele are after.