Brewdog (Glasgow)

I think I was the only person in the city who had never heard of the Brewdog chain of craft beer pubs. We ate in a very nice and reasonable Indian restaurant just up from the pub and the food was great. Brewdog itself is a craft beer chain of pubs. On entering this pub I liked it immediately. We managed to get a seat to accommodate all of our group and ordered our drinks at the bar. I was unsure what beer to go for so one of the lads in the group suggested 5am saint which is a red ale. It cost 4 pounds and 5 pence for a pint and I really enjoyed it. I had three pints of that and it left a lasting effect on me. I was thinking about it even after returning home.

The toilets were small but were well maintained. They have a selection of board games available to play as you enjoy your drinks. The music being played here was very much to my taste and there was a very eclectic mix of people drinking here so it was a great experience.

Toilet rating: 7/10
Pint rating: 9.5/10
Overall rating: 9/10

Final comment: This pub converted me to trying new beers especially craft ones. I even got 5am saint in a pub in Cork recently.

Premier inn George Square (Glasgow)

This is the hotel that we stayed in while on our trip to Glasgow. It was basic but was great value for the two nights that we stayed there. We had drinks in the bar on two occasions while we were there. The day we arrived we had a drink during the day and another drink after coming back from a night on the town. It was disappointing on both occasions. It is your typical hotel chain pub so much so that I can’t remember what it was called. I didn’t like the layout of the bar and even when we were there when it was busy, it lacked atmosphere.

I have varying opinions on the bar staff there. On the first occasion that we went inn I found the lady working at the bar to be courteous and engaged in conversation with me. There was a young bar man on the second occasion we were there and he was perhaps the rudest person I have come across working in a pub (and I’ve been to a few). He completely ignored me and the man standing next to me despite only one other person being at the bar. He walked past us several times deliberately avoiding eye contact with us. He then stood with his back to us looking at his phone. I eventually raised my voice just a little and asked him if they were closed for business. He replied no, so I asked him if I could speak to his manager. He then then promptly served us our drinks at the speed we would expect them normally. In other circumstances I would have left the bar once I encountered this ignorance but it was late and we were not heading back out. The pint itself was only ok and was certainly not worth the wait! I didn’t use the toilet in the bar so cannot comment on that.

Pint rating: 5/10
Overall rating: 3/10

Final comment: This review only reflects my experience in the bar. I would definately stay in the hotel again but wouldn’t bother with the bar.

Three Judges (Glasgow)

We headed to this pub on Saturday night and it wasn’t too busy when we got in. We were standing for a short while but then managed to aquire a table in this small pub. Prior to heading in the lads in the know said that this was supposedly Glasgow’s best pub . There was loads of craft beers on sale and there was a black board that was was updated regularly with different special craft beers that they were offering and their price. I ordered a pint of Guinness and it was by far the best pint of stout I have ever had abroad. It was super. We only stayed for the one drink but it was a good one. There was a good mix of young and older people here and the atmosphere was good. The service at the bar was excellent.

What let this pub down were the toilets. They were very small and there was no running water in the sink to wash your hands with. This is a big let down for such a nice, well run pub. Despite this I would head back there in a heartbeat.

Toilet rating: 6/10
Pint rating: 9/10
Overall rating: 8.5/10

Final comment: A really decent pub that is most certainly worth a visit if in Glasgow.

The Drovers Inn ( Loch Lomand)

Our visit to Glasgow brought us out by Loch a Lomand after we partook in some very enjoyable and frustrating clay pigeon shooting nearby. We stopped at this pub for a bite to eat and I have to say it is in perhaps the most idealic location of any pub I have visited previously. When we parked the car behind the pub we noticed a stunning waterfall on the hill side. We headed in and luckily found a table to accommodate us as the pub is small and there was a crowd in there. I ordered a burger and chips which was very tasty and reasonably priced but didn’t have a pint as I would be driving later. Ryan had the traditional Scottish dish haggis and I tried some but was glad I had ordered the burger! The waiters were all wearing kilts and were very pleasant. This was a traditional Scottish establishment which was enjoyable to visit.

The toilets were very well maintained and no complaints there. I noticed that they had another room which I presume was a restaurant area but I couldn’t say for certain. I enjoyed the visit to this pub in a rather remote location. Certainly a place to check out if in the Loch Lomand area.

Toilet rating : 8/10
Overall rating: 8/10

Final comment: even though I didn’t enjoy a pint here I enjoyed the experience immensely.

Horseshoe bar (Glasgow)

This pub in Glasgow city centre appealed to me for a number of reasons while doing my research prior to going there. First and foremost it hosts nightly karaoke upstairs and is the place to head to in Glasgow to sing a song or two. Secondly, it apparently has the longest bar counter in Europe. I was interested to see this also. We headed in on a Saturday night and I have to say I liked the bar downstairs instantly. Even though we were in the city centre of a European capital it had that distinct ‘local pub’ feel about the place. I was disappointed to be told by some polite bouncers that the karaoke area upstairs was full beyond capacity and there was no way anyone else could head up. I told them that I just wanted to have a look and they eventually agreed. It wasn’t full at all, standing room was aplenty but for once in my life I decided not to stay there and sing to the masses but to return down to the bar.

The longest bar counter in Europe was oval shaped and not that impressive. It is a big pub and the sound of Glaswegian banter was great to hear. I ordered a pint of tenants much to the disgust of my fellow craft beer drinking crew. It was your average pint of cheap beer but I enjoyed it. They serve lots of pies in this establishment but we didn’t sample any food. The toilets were not great. The floor just outside was very sticky and the toilet area could have done with a good clean.

Toilet rating: 5/10
Pint rating : 6/10
Overall rating: 7.5/10

Final comment: I enjoyed the pint we had here. Wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I liked it.

Blackfriars (Glasgow)

Another pub that we headed into was blackfriars on Bell street in Glasgow city. This is one of the city’s craft beer pub experiences and the other lads in the group rated it highly in terms of its craft beer selections. I really don’t know much at all about craft beer but I tried out a few here and one I particularly liked but the other which was a pale ale was undrinkable for my palate. It was very busy when we headed in on an early Friday evening but as people left we managed to get a table. The staff found myself and Ryan’s Cork accents difficult to decifer but we just about managed to order drinks. They were advertising a basement for parties etc and that part of the pub I didn’t see. There are some nice seating areas and the atmosphere here was excellent.

The big let down for me personally was the gents toilets. They had the worst smell I have ever come across in any toilet that I have been in. It was not a smell caused by the users of the facility. I would describe it a smell of burning rubber combined with a smell of toilet cleaning products. I know that doesn’t make any sense but the odour lingered in my nostrils long after we left the pub. Other than that the toilet was very small with two urinals and one cubicle available for use.

Toilet rating: 4/10
Pint rating: 1st 8/10 and 2nd 3/10
Overall rating:8/10

Final comment: If the sorted out the bad odour this would be a super pub .

The Beer Cafe (Glasgow)

It has been a seriously long time since the last pub review and for that I can only apologise and say that our priorities lie elsewhere and we just don’t have the time to keep the website updated as it once was. That said I am going to make a concerted effort to start reviewing again as it still remains an absolute passion of mine. We headed to Glasgow for the weekend for Ryan’s stag party and headed for this bar for a bite to eat and a drink. It is located at 78 Candleriggs in the city and we decided to head in to try the beer and the pies. We sat in a booth at the back of the bar and it was very quiet upon arrival which was early around 4pm. We ordered drinks which were good. There is a good selection of craft beers available to buy along with your regular mass produced products. The pies in the beer cafe come with mash potato, mushy peas and gravy. I really enjoyed mine which was chicken but Ryan’s venison pie just didn’t contain enough meat for his liking. The meal costs 8.95 as far a I recall and there are other pies to choose from also.

The bar itself is not huge but can seat quite a few people especially at the front. It was very busy when we were leaving on early Friday evening. The toilets are located down a very attractive winding iron staircase and it’s slightly confusing trying to decifer which is male and female by signs on the door especially with a lot of alcohol consumed. The toilets were very well maintained with no complaints about the cleanliness. I thought the pub was good for the grub but I wouldn’t rush back when next in Glasgow.

Toilet rating; 7/10
Pint rating: 6.5/10
Overall rating: 6.5/10

Final comment: Enjoyed heading to this bar especially for the pie.

It’s a craft beer thing…

Beer is great. Great beer is greater. Great Irish beer is greatest. Or at least I like to think so. For all the lovers of Irish craft beer, for those who like to brew & drink their own; Hello brewing.ie. No matter what side of the bar or brew kettle you’re on, Irish craft beer is a fantastic thing. The amount of growth in the market in the last number of years is testament to just how good it is and more importantly, why you should be drinking it instead of your usual pint of bland. Venturing into a bar that serves craft beer isn’t as scary as some people might make it out to be. Nine times out of ten if you tell them what you usually drink, they’ll suggest two or three beers that will keep you in your comfort zone but still allow you to try something new.

Home brewing was very much a thing your dad did. Or something you did in college to get really drunk, really fast for really little money. Usually, with disastrous results. I’d say ‘this is not your fathers home brewing’ but in truth it is. However that doesn’t change the fact that you can get very good results at home with even the most modest equipment and budget.

If I can be biased, I think craft brewing in Ireland more or less started with the Franciscan Well (which I’ve just noticed is very due for re-review) in Cork. They were brewing their own way back when Ireland was thinking ‘what the hell is this and why should I be drinking it instead of ‘generic beer X’? It took a few years (and maybe the recession helped) but more people started drinking at home and demanding better beer for their increasingly hard earned and often smaller pay packet. Breweries began to spring up everywhere.

But I’ve gotten off the point, or I’m just attacking it from a different angle maybe. Brewing.ie is a showcase for all that is good about Irish craft beer, no matter if that beer is produced by a commercial brewery or by you at home in your garden shed. Write about it. Take photos of it, shoot video of it. It doesn’t matter how you document it or what your experience level is. At brewing.ie, we want to hear about it.

Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Get us at hello@brewing.ie or on twitter @brewingie

An Bodhran (Cork City)

I have walked past this small pub on Oliver Plunkett street in Cork city many times over the years. I always wanted to enjoy a pint in here and recently headed in around 7pm on a Friday evening. I was due to meet friends in another pub so I just had a swift one. It was quite busy for that time of the evening and most people had a hello or a nod in my direction as I went to order my drink. It is one of those pubs where you can walk in on your own for a pint and feel completely comfortable. The bar staff were a young guy and girl and I was served my Beamish efficiently with a smile.

There is plenty memorabilia on the walls to keep you reading and there was some of the clientele watching sport on the tv. I sat at the front of the bar sitting on a stool and people watching out the window. I really enjoyed the pint and found this to be a very relaxing pub for a pint. I didn’t use the toilet facilities so cannot comment on those but overall this is a grand little pub very centrally located

Pint rating: 8/10
Overall rating: 8/10

Final comment: I would most certainly like to head back here again and will probably do so to catch some of the live music i have heard while walking by in the past.

Elbow Lane Brewery; Angel Stout

Brand new and on sale today but you won’t find it in your local off-license or craft brew pub just yet. Angel Stout by Elbow Lane Brewery is, for now, only available at Market Lane in Cork city and The Castle Cafe in Blackrock. Happily enough, popping in to try the new stout gave me the opportunity to sample the fine food on offer in Market Lane over the bank holiday weekend.

Some would call releasing a stout in Cork a hard act to follow. I must confess that having only really discovered the wealth of craft beers available in the last year or so, my horizons were somewhat limited to two of Cork’s better known; Murphys Irish Stout and Beamish. Then I tried Shandon Stout by the Franciscan Well brewery and I didn’t know which way was up. It didn’t take long before I jumped into craft brew with both feet and with a small push even began all grain brewing in the not too distant past. Having been a coffee drinker (and lover) for quite some time, you’d expect my taste buds to be a finely tuned machine, capable of extracting a wealth of information on every new beer I sample and producing copious tasting notes and an appraisal so detailed it would make any “Antiques Roadshow” host blush. Sadly, not so. Or rather, not yet. I’m no expert but I know what I like. Because of that, I mostly only drink what I like. I buy beer in mixed batches and remember (or take photos of labels) of beers that I like. Then I buy those over and over. Life is, after all, too short for bad beer. Since finding out that some beers actually contain flavour, I’ve delighted in getting to grips with varied ales, stouts and porters from the many new and a few of the more established Irish, UK and American brewers.

So this would be the part where I make out like I know what I’m talking about…
On cracking open the bottle and expecting a all too familiar stout aroma, I was very pleasantly surprised by the sweet smell that almost seemed to jump out of the bottle at me. The carbonation seems spot on (to me anyway) and on pouring I got another wave of wonderful sweet treacle on the nose. After taking a couple of very quick photos I got into it and although I can’t exactly put my finger on it, I’m getting a gorgeous silky dark roast coffee (I’d like to think it’s Cork Coffee Roasters “Morning Growler”) taste. About half way in and I’m picking up citrus flavours that compliment the coffee / sweet taste perfectly. Holy moley, that’s a cracker. I haven’t been this pleased/surprised with/by a stout since Dungarvan’s Coffee & Oatmeal stout in December last year. I’ll most certainly be picking up a few more of these on my next trip to Cork at the end of the month for the home brewing expo. Immediately I want to try it both on cask (hint hint Elbow Lane, the craft brew festival would be perfect) and with a nitrogen mix behind it to give a bit of oomph to the creaminess and head retention.

The arrival of a new craft beer brewery in Cork is to be celebrated. Elbow Lane’s debut has surprised and delighted in equal measures and is a hell of a way to kick off the inclusion of craft beers on Munster Pubs. I’m expecting great things from them with their two upcoming brews; Wisdom Ale and Elbow Lager. I believe both will be available in a month or so.

You can also find Elbow Lane Brewery on @elbowlanecork.