Nestled amidst the bustling bosom of the east end, Drygate Brewery defies the ditzy demeanour of the everyday bar and restaurant, and transports you into a hoppy hazed hemisphere of culinary and drinkable delights. I stumbled across this gem not long after moving to the east end, and ever since, modestly sober faced, or pretty much off my face, it has been a pleasurable experience putting my face in their fantastic beer.
Craft Beer Rising is a craft beer festival that, for the first time ever, was held outside of London in our very own city of Glasgow on the 19th, 20th and 21st of September, and who else to host this incredible event than Drygate. Seductively dappled with amazing music and street food and featuring over two hundred beers from forty plus breweries, the event was a spectacular insight into the craft beer universe. Whether an aficionado of craft beer and beer brewing, or just simply ‘trying to get into beer’ as I overheard one festival goer so eloquently boast, the event was an incredible way of expanding public passion and knowledge of craft beer.
Upon entering, there was a tent where you could buy your ticket, collect your wristband and receive a free schooner or pint glass donned with the words ‘Craft Beer Rising’ that, in your clammy and excitable hands you took upstairs to be filled over and over again with the golden promise of a beer of your choice. I felt that perhaps this represented a trophy of some sort for active participation, or else it was a pretty good souvenir.
Cradled inside the beer hall, breweries from near and far were lined around the room, offering tastings of all beer on tap, pints of beer for £2 and 1/3 pints for as little as £1, meaning the experience would not exactly extinguish any flame left in your pre-payday bank balance, as you may have feared. Breweries including some of my favourites – Thornbridge, Alechemy, Siren Craft and of course Williams Brothers, showcased a range of exquisite beers; beers that made it difficult not to choke on your own saliva when it was placed before you (which, on reflection, combined with slight intoxication could have been a health and safety hazard). Additionally, other exciting drinkables such as Tincup American Whiskey were amongst the action, providing whiskey that acted as a perfect partner to a wonderful craft beer, creating a timeless marriage of liquid elation. Another interesting drink, given the recent Scottish Independence Referendum, was Traquair Brewery’s ‘Referendum Ale’ (ABV 4%), a full-bodied and mildly hoppy beer with a crisp and suitably bitter aftertaste.
Not only did the delicious food add to the impeccable drink, but also the music provided a chilled out yet unmistakably proud atmosphere to the buzz of the beer hall, with the bass heavy and dub steady sounds of Mungo’s Hi-fi as well as talented local dj’s like David Barbarossa and Duncan Harvey. The music room itself acted almost as a haven, where you could take refuge from the busy and lively atmosphere of the beer hall, and zone out with nothing but a heart warming bass and a cold glass of pale ale, thus allowing your beer experience to be lived through three levels of malty existence: the animated beer hall, the outside seating area for a chat or a smoke or munch, and the laid back but upbeat bubble of the music room.
After a very busy and important few hours drinking, another highlight of this event was stumbling across the hidden beer nirvana that is Drygate Bottle Shop downstairs from where the event was held, in a humble nook of the Drygate Vintage restaurant. In the shop, hundreds of international beers look you in the eye with a smug pride that can only be achieved through being consistently hand plucked and taken home by willing strangers. Many of the beers that I tasted in the beer hall I could purchase from the beer shop and take home myself, so that I could re-live my beer memories in the comfort of my living room, with friends, or alone listening to Neil Young in a hot bubble bath.
The craft beer revolution is simply for everyone who has a love for good quality beer, and for me, Craft Beer Rising created a triumphant bond between my two loves, a bond I appreciate and a bond that will last: my love for Glasgow and my love for beer.