Sunday, 3 November 2013

A calm pint – Glasgow Beer Week day one

Blackfriars on Bell St have to my mind some of the finest cellarmanship in Glasgow – I’m not sure I can recall ever having a flat pint in there. That being so, they eased us into Beer Week by opening up the basement bar early (it usually hosts club nights later in the evening), and sticking two fresh casks on the bar to be poured by gravity.

The pub gets extremely busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so much so that I actually avoid it on weekend evenings. So it was a great relief to be able to sit down with a pint downstairs and talk in a less crushed atmosphere.

I love gravity beer. Often it is done very poorly, leading some people to believe that gravity beer is always flat, including the London barman who once served me a pint lacking any carbonation whatsoever and argued that it was meant to be like that.

Happily, both beers were in great nick and very drinkable. Kelburn Pivo Estivo really shone, seeming hoppier than usual, though I think this may be down to a slight variation in the beer rather than dispense.

It is really weird the way that Glasgow Beer Week has things go around in circles. Three and a half years ago, after the event that inspired Beer Week in the first place, I wrote “I also tried a very good hoppy stout which would put plenty of commercial versions to shame.” That hoppy stout was the beer that later became Williams Bros Profanity Stout, and one of the homebrewers was Craig Middleton, then a brewing student at Heriot-Watt. Craig has, of course, since gone on to set up Cromarty Brewing whose beers are already regarded as some of the finest in Scotland.

What did we have as the other beer on Friday night but a new porter “Ghost Town” from Cromarty? I wouldn’t like to stick my neck out and say it’s the same recipe, but it certainly tasted secular enough to be reminiscent of the earlier beer. For its 5.8% it was surprisingly smooth and it turned into one of those “goodness, is that the time?” evenings – always a sign of a good beer.

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