Saturday, 11 September 2010

Curlers’ Rest

Up in Glasgow’s trendy west end the other day, I was passing the Curler’s Rest and noticed it had been refurbished. It’s an inn with a long history and is one of the half dozen or so that claim to be the oldest in Glasgow. But unitl now, I’ve only ever known it as a grotty student pub. If university chums suggested going there, you knew it was time to make an excuse and go home, and possibly think about finding new chums.

Well, what a transformation. The interior has been redone with lots of exposed wood and big tables. It’s a little too dark for the North London Sunday lunchtime gastropub feel they’re so clearly going for, but none the worse for that. To me it has a sort of wine-cellar vibe. The menu too is a bit Observer Food Monthly with its slow-roasted pork belly and grilled halloumi (what, no lamb shank?). That’s not a dig; I like it a lot.

More importantly, the beer selection was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting to find perhaps one real ale and maybe Erdinger in the fridge (or Schneider Weisse if I was lucky). Instead, Deuchars IPA, BrewDog Alpha Dog, Black Sheep Bitter, Purity Ubu were on offer from handpump. Not bad; someone clearly knows what they’re doing and hasn’t just chosen the usual dreary regional beers.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Brooklyn Lager are on tap, and from the megabrewers at least there is Pilsner Urquell and Paulaner to supplement the Staropramen and Heineken.

A pint of Purity Ubu was served, heavily sparkled, into a dimple mug (this retro affectation is amusing; it must be in some gastropub handbook, for I’ve encountered it in various similar places several times now). It’s a fruity, malty brown bitter that has a nice hop balance to it. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s much, much too warm — almost room temperature.

If the place had been this good when I was a student, I’d never have got any work done. If they can get the cellar cooled and lose the sparklers it looks like we could have a serious addition to our drinking scene in Glasgow.

10 comments:

  1. Ah the London influence. Gastropub meets warm beer, meets dimple mugs. Dontcha just love it?

    At least they got the sparkler right, but no good on beer that is toasty in the hot sense.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was expecting a blog about drunken USA Midwesterners throwing stones on the ice and sweeping ahead of them. This is much more interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was just about to point out that to any real ale drinker it has to be served near room temperature. Ales are living beer and they taste better at those temperatures.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think the idea that real ale should be served at room temperature is an old myth, likely originating from the same place as the idea that it should be flat or vinegary: that people first drank them in establishments where the landlord didn't know how to serve them, and came away with the impression that that was how they were supposed to be. Pubs selling cask beers at too high a temperature was a major reason that Cask Marque was introduced. They recommend that cask beer be served at 11-13 degrees (i.e. substantially below room temperature, but a good bit warmer than keg).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yep, Kosmo has been misinformed. No, real ale shouldn't be frozen, yes, real ale should be cold. Go over to the other side of the University to the Doublet and you'll find real ale served at the proper temperature.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Am I the only person who thinks they have destroyed a once great pub? Ok it was a bit tatty but I had some great nights in there playing pool or the machines when I was a student (and well after). Who is going to have those sort of memories in this place? Just yet another tedious gastro pub, the like of which go out of business daily in Scotland... yawn. I hope Aragon, Gallus etc. benefit from Curlers' refugees like me. I am sure I am not the only one who will never set foot in here again

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous, pubs close and get remodelled and every drinker will experience that happening to one of their favourite boozers. You're lucky if it only happens to you once in your drinking life. I can think of at least half a dozen pubs I used to enjoy which aren't there any more.

    What gastro pubs are going out of business? I only know of a few and they seem to be doing alright.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with Anonymous. They destroyed a once-great pub a decade or so ago when they ripped out all the fixtures and fittings, opened it up into a characterless barn, packed it full of the more lumpen end of the student population, stuck psychopathic-looking bouncers on the door, painted its 250 year-old sandstone exterior flourscent yellow and started blasting shit chart-pop at high volume.

    Anything's an improvement on its previous incarnation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Barm : Curlers has not been one of my favourite pubs for a long time. Like tecton, I don't go into pubs with bouncers on the doors and I am getting a bit too old for night time in a Scream bar. But Curlers Rest is no longer a pub at all. It is now a restaurant in all but name. Buddha has shut, you don't really feel you can go into Loft unless you're eating, Tennents (also owned by Mitchell & Butlers) is allegedly going to be "refurbished" i.e. gentrified in the near future. OK, there are still plenty of real pubs in the area but the diversity is not as it was and I reckon Wetherspoons will take full advantage as soon as any site becomes available.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Been going in most weekends it's really up Market now. Biggest and best change is the bouncers... The old ones were thugs. The two new guy are not only good looking they are very polite and welcoming. The bar staff are very nice too . Will definitely make this my local .

    ReplyDelete