I managed to find myself a couple of spare evenings in Glasgow recently so decided to try and explore as much of the craft beer scene there as possible in that time. I searched online for guidance as to which places to target first, and managed to find some great places in amongst some of Glasgow’s best known areas. In general terms, there are two main areas for anyone seeking out a decent bar to drink craft beer – the west end (Kelvingrove / Byres Rd) and the Merchant City; although there are a couple of decent bars in between, which make useful stops on the way!
I am sure I have missed some places and perhaps there will be reason enough for me to revisit Glasgow in the near future – sound off in the comments if you think there are places I should go to!
85 Drygate, Glasgow, G4 0UT
Standing at the old entrance to the Tennents Brewery is Glasgow’s craft beer mecca, Drygate. This place is many things, all of them generally good! A brewery, a bar, a restaurant, a tourist attraction…all centered on their very solid core offering of their own beers. Their 24 taps also stock some of the finest craft beers from the likes of Cromarty, Thornbridge, Williams Bros and more. Their bottle range is equally impressive, with a very strong offering of US craft beers.
The decor is the ubiquitous exposed stonework, steel and glass, but the fact you can view their brewing hardware makes this place that little bit extra special. The bar is effectively the tap room of the brewery and they wear this with pride.
I was somewhat cynical of the connection to the big red T but this, I think, was unfounded. Drygate is an absolute must visit for anyone with even a fleeting interest in craft beer. If you’re in Glasgow, get here asap, you can even do the standard tourist thing of seeing Glasgow Cathedral at the same time.
36 Bell Street, Glasgow, G1 1LG
A fairly traditional pub/restaurant in the Merchant City area of Glasgow. There are usually 5 taps dedicated to craft beer or real ale, with a selection of Scottish & UK craft beers such as Cromarty Brewing, Tiny Rebel, East London Brewing Co etc. Although the tap list is limited this place really comes alive with their bottle selection, boasting several well stocked fridges, including a fridge almost dedicated to Belgian & German beers, as well as a craft beer fridge with solid offerings from Siren Craft, Bad Seed, Brew By Numbers and Beavertown.
The decor is traditional pub, bar stools included. The atmosphere is busy and pleasant, with most people having food as well as drinking.
Although probably not on my ‘must visit’ list, Blackfriars remains a solid option for craft beer fans heading for the Merchant City.
185 Great Western Road, Glasgow G4 9EB
For my money, this is probably the best craft beer bar in Glasgow. With at least 7 taps dedicated to craft beer & real ale at any one time, the selection ranges from UK greats like Wild Beer Co & Camden Town Brewery through to Scottish breweries such as Eden Mills, Williams Bros, and Loch Lomond.
The decor is pretty standard exposed block work and incongruous old wood tables, chairs and leather sofas, but with a few twists (the tyre and chain lampshades are pretty unique I think!).
The food menu is particularly strong, with a lot of decent options in their Feast From £5 menu (the haggis & cheese panini is a personal favourite).
Located on Gt Western Rd about half way between the city centre and the Byres Rd area, it’s not exactly central, but it is well worth taking the time to visit. Only really a 15 min walk from Sauchiehall St.
Great beer, friendly staff and a really good atmosphere make this a must visit if you are in Glasgow.
1397-1403 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AN
Pretty typical BrewDog bar, exposed brickwork and steel, serving not only the best BrewDog has to offer, but a wide selection of the finest craft beers from the likes of Stone Brewing, Mikkeller, Fyne Ales, etc.
Although the bar is not located in the city centre (at the time of writing I understand that a 2nd BrewDog bar is to open soon in the Merchant City area of Glasgow) it is a very short taxi ride, or a moderate walk from the city centre. It is directly across from the Kelvingrove Museum & Gallery, very close to the University of Glasgow, so the clientele is a mix of tourists, students and a few locals.
I’ve been to the Glasgow BrewDog a good few times and it is always a great atmosphere. The staff are hugely knowledgeable about all things craft beer and service is friendly and swift. Their food menu, much like most other BrewDogs, is good, if heavy on the side of burgers, etc, but it matches the beer perfectly. If you like craft beer and either live in Glasgow or even just visiting, I’d suggest a visit to BrewDog is a must.
445 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 8HH
This inconspicuous bar on the banks of the River Kelvin boasts 12 taps (9 keg, 3 cask) of some very fine craft beers. The house beers are all Williams Bros fare and are a strong selection of quality examples of IPAs, lagers and stouts. The huge array of pump clips on the wall behind the bar is testament to regular rotation of quality beers often included in Inn Deep’s tap list.
The fridges behind the bar are stocked full of great offerings from craft breweries from across the UK, Europe & the US, so even if the tap list doesn’t grab you, I can pretty much guarantee that one of their bottles will.
The bar itself is not the best looking in terms of decor, the usual exposed brickwork complemented by the vaulted ceilings betraying the bar’s history as a riverside warehouse or storage premises (I think!). The leather booths and black wooden chairs & tables are ageing a bit, but it all adds to the character of the place. A decent food menu is also on offer with a variety of different dishes beyond the usual ‘pub food’ standards.
Located at the opposite side of the Kelvingrove/Glasgow University campus from BrewDog, this is a good alternative for the Glasgow bound craft beer drinker.
The Bon Accord
153 North St, Glasgow, G3 7DA
The main attraction of The Bon Accord is their encyclopaedic whisky selection, but for those real ale & craft beer fans among us they have 10 taps serving a regular rotation of some of the finest brews from some well renowned Scottish and UK breweries.
It is a traditional pub with a good, welcoming atmosphere, a “proper pub” in my opinion. Situated just off the M8 (overlooking it in fact) this pub borders the city centre and the west end so is ideally placed as a mid point in any pub crawl or leisurely stroll between those two areas.
If you are in the area then drop by, you won’t regret it.