Sunday, 12 September 2010

The only pub in the village

If you look over there on the right you will see that for the last few months I and some other people have been using Twitter to try to spread the word about which interesting beers are available in Glasgow. It’s very simple: whenever we go to a pub and see something good, interesting, unusual, new or rare on draught, we tweet about it using the #glasgowbeer hashtag. It automatically gets retweeted and anyone who follows @GlasgowBeer gets an update about it. We now have quite a few people using it, which suggests to me that people appreciate knowing when it’s worth going to the pub for a particular beer.

The real aim is to get pubs to use it; after all, they are more on the ball with which beers they have on than we mere punters can ever be. Unfortunately, up until now we’ve singularly failed to get a single Glasgow pub tweeting about their beer in the way that, say, the Gunmakers or the Rake in London do.

We did, though, start noticing tweets from @TheAntonineArms, a pub none of us had ever heard of before. At first we were slightly irritated when it transpired the pub wasn’t actually even in Glasgow, but when we started looking at the beers they were tweeting, we couldn’t help but be intrigued.

Before I continue I should explain that the “nice country pub” that people love in England isn’t really very common at all in Scotland. There are some surviving old inns and pubs in rural areas, but in general they are stuck in the timewarp of Tennent’s Lager, Belhaven Best and Guinness. Exceptions prove the rule, of course, and happily these exceptions are slowly increasing in number.

We looked at a map. Then we rubbed our eyes and looked again. A pub there was selling those beers?

We had to go and investigate. It’s a 15 minute train journey and a 20 minute cycle from the nearest station to the pub. Not as far as it looks, though we got lost in the forest the first time. Once you know the way it’s easy.

It is lovely. The bar has been sympathetically renovated; there is old varnished wood, little clutter, yet the bar has an airy feel. There are big-screen TVs for those who want to see the match, but they are not intrusive and you can forget they’re there if you’d rather have a quiet chat. It combines all the best features of new-wave real ale pubs and of my favourite jakey pubs.

There are generally only a couple of real ales at a time but they are from the most progressive local breweries — Tryst, Tin Pot, Fyne Ales and others; and supplemented by carefully selected bottles. It puts a lot of pubs in Glasgow city to shame.

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