Thursday, 22 May 2014
Slowly does it – Drygate opens
Several years ago someone told me that Portland, Oregon has the same population as Glasgow, which means that our three breweries look slightly puny compared to their thirty-five. Never mind, we are catching up and from the weekend we now have four breweries (and a fifth is due to follow in a couple of months)!
The people behind Drygate Brewing Co have been tight-lipped for the last few weeks, but the bar-restaurant in the East End is opening in May as promised after all – this weekend in fact.
The ground floor houses the restaurant, the breweries and a small beer shop. The kitchen is run by people transferred from Leith’s The Vintage, and judging by the canapes they fed us, the food looks likely to be every bit as good as you would expect. Upstairs is a beer hall and a multi-functional space that can be used as a venue or exhibition space.
A young triumvirate of brewers has been assembled: Jake, late of Fyne Ales; Edward has left Traditional Scottish Ales to come here; and Alessandra joins the team from Harviestoun. Food and beer are treated holistically here – Jake and Ed worked in kitchens before becoming brewers, and Alessandra studied at Carlo Petrini’s “slow food” university. Scott Williams says the brewers will have freedom to get on with creating new beers alongside the Drygate core range.
The brewing kit is Italian-made and a lauter tun system. The main vessel can be heated for mashing and heated further for boiling, with the mash being pumped into the lauter tun for separating the wort from the grains and clear wort pumped back to be boiled. This system is flexible enough for pretty much any mashing regime you can think of, from a simple infusion to a stepped mash to triple decoction. There is a chamber within the copper for non-hop aromatics – handy for brewers in the tradition of using odd botanicals.
Because of delays in commissioning the brewing kit, the bar will be opening with Drygate beers brewed at Williams Bros in Alloa for the first few weeks. The beer will inevitably change once production actually starts up at Drygate and the brewers get used to the new system. Thus there’s not a lot of point in an in-depth critique of the beers at this stage. I will say that all three core beers seem cleaner and improved on the prototypes we were offered back in February. The Bearface lager is fresher and seems more bitter. Gladeye IPA is paler and better balanced, but still needs more aroma. Even the apple ale has blossomed into an approachable, very sweet drink.
As well as the core beers, there will be any amount of one-off brews and guest draught beers, plus fridges stocked with enough bottles to keep anyone happy.
I am looking forward to drinking here immensely – not least because it will make an excellent end to the three-brewery cycling tour we can now do, starting at the Clockwork on the south side, stopping at WEST on Glasgow Green and ending up at Drygate. It will be most splendid to relax on the sun deck where you can gather outside with a beer and enjoy the late afternoon sun – while gazing over the yard of Tennent’s brewery next door and its delivery trucks laden with kegs.