Saturday, 1 May 2010

Market Gallery Pub

That was a tremendous night. The climax of Eric Steen's Glasgow Beer and Pub Project, part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, was a one-night installation turning the Market Gallery into a "pub". The doors opened at 6pm and within half an hour the place was rammed, or hoaching, as we say in Glasgow.

It's not just any pub. All the beer was free, and most of it was made by homebrewers. Around 12 private brewers contributed 20-something different beers, ranging from imperial IPA to Vienna lager. Harviestoun and Williams Bros had also donated beer, and the product of the Pub School brewing demonstration four weeks earlier was being served.

I seem to have lost my copy of the menu, but I remember having Geoff's very chewy Vienna lager and his Rauchbier which was lightly smoky and rather buttery (I quite like that in lager). I also tried a very good hoppy stout which would put plenty of commercial versions to shame.

By 7pm the place was so full that there was a queue forming outside, so we nipped out to Mills Bar down the street for a couple of ironic pints of Tartan Special and Younger's Best. Glasgow is full of extremely unfashionable, but amazingly friendly little pubs like this; it's just a terrible shame that drinking in them almost always means having to consume dreadful beer.

Back to the gallery, and it was already clear that the event was a triumph. Even though the venue had no toilet and people had to walk 50m up to the office to queue for the loo, it worked. The volunteer bar staff were working hard pouring beers. All the crowd — art students, CAMRA types, brewing professionals, cyclists and hipsters — seemed to be having a great time.

It was also a tickers' paradise. Part of the fun in tickers' pubs is when a new beer comes on and you have one of the first pints. This was even better, as only ten of the beers were being served at any one time, so there was something new literally every time you went to the bar. Rare stuff you'll never see again, too; most of these beers are not available in any shops, as they used to say on the K-tel adverts.

With an hour to go it got exciting as the beer started to run out. Each beer had a little wooden sign and the bar staff crossed them out as they were finished. We ended up with a full pub at closing time and still with beer to spare. It was amazing. Let's do it again next year.

It was still only 10pm, so a bunch of us headed down to West for a nightcap. The long-awaited Kölsch was finally ready and it's great. More perfumey and aromatic than most Cologne versions, but recognisably a Kölsch and closer than most attempts brewed outside Nordrhein-Westfalen. Mitchell Krause American Pale Ale was a decent effort, with all the right elements but somehow less than the sum of its parts. I'll give it another go next time I see it though.


  1. That's a really cool idea and it sounds like great it was a great night! You might want to get a new photographer though...!

  2. It was a great night. I liked the vanilla oatmeal stout, as well as the 'muddy puddle' stout.

  3. Hey Robbie,
    there are a couple leftover menus still at the gallery. Also, I drank your XXX on Loch Ness on Sunday, it was great.

  4. It was a rammy, but all the better for that. And the social engagement aspect of the project certainly worked for me. I've never spoken to so many strangers in a single night. My vote for best beer goes to the Muddy Puddle

  5. Thanks Eric! I didn't like the XXX much myself, it's reassuring to hear that other people did. I gave Ken a bottle just because he also makes a beer called XXX.

    rodbod, I never dreamed I'd encounter a wine expert from Motherwell. I am allowed to say that because I'm from Motherwell too. The only wine the shops round my way sold came in a bottle with an orange label.

  6. Agreed - this was a fantastic night. Honored that my beer (Dirty Puddle Stout) has gotten such good reviews. Hoping that this event DOES come back again next year.

  7. Eric, I finally got around to writing up the blog post about XXX: