Reviews and events

Lunch at…Drygate, Glasgow

imageLast week I found myself with a free day in Glasgow, and with a list of recommendations I hoped to cover as much of the city as I could. Despite my best intentions of having a day-long trek from the West End to Merchant City, two things had slightly curbed my enthusiasm. Firstly, it was Leap Day, and Brewdog had inconveniently decided to give all their staff a day off from serving customers, so that was two venues crossed off the list. Damn them, and their being nice to their employees philosophy.

Secondly, I had a 6/10 level hangover and needed a bit of peace, so rather than traipse the busy streets I went for a look around Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art until I could summon some desire for Beer. Eventually, I ended up at Drygate, the Microbrewery/Beer Hall/Restaurant that opened in 2014 as a result of a joint endeavour between Williams Brewery and Tennents Caledonian. Seeming like an odd match at the time, the behemoth Wellpark Brewery casts a long shadow and there was, and is, a fair bit of scepticism about the motivation behind the idea of a larger Brewery ‘muscling in’ on the Craft scene and also why Williams decided to get involved. Regardless of that debate, I’ve generally heard that its a nice place to visit, but that the Beer hasn’t generally made much of an impression. I hadn’t had a chance to try any of their Beers previously, and although I was a bit disappointed to see the upstairs Beer Hall was closed, it was understandable on a Monday lunchtime. The ground floor restaurant looked welcoming though, and the menu looked like it would satisfy my cravings.

Starving, I was immediately drawn to the Ox cheek and cheddar sandwich when I scanned the menu. Presented with a board with the ingredients laid out fastidiously rather than preassembled I had severe mental eye roll, but once I got down to construction I was more than happy. Crumbly buttery cheddar, peppery pulled cheek and chippy chips that didn’t require soss enhancement.

Alongside the food menu, there was a limited draft list of Drygate/Tennents products offered but clearly plenty of other beers on behind the bar. I came for the Drygate beers, so ordered Gladeye IPA and Ax Man Rye IPA, but got Gladeye and the Bearface pils. Maybe I just look like a lager lover, or maybe my bear face planted the thought in the waiter’s mind, either way I wasn’t in the mood to correct him.

Bearface is what I would term as a medium quality craft lager. Superior to your standard pils, and if you’d told me this was Tennents I’d be pleasantly surprised, as it isn’t, I’m slightly underwhelmed. Crisp of course, but without significant bite. In contrast, my half of Gladeye IPA powered through the salty sheen of the cheek n chips admirably. Caramalt and Cascade are the main combo here, with a bit of Vienna Malt that adds to a sweet, sticky finish. Pointed but not piney, it’s a solid enjoyable beer and had I more time I’d have ordered another. As well as the Restaurant and Beer Hall, there is also a small bottleshop with a good range of Scottish and UK bottles, and so I managed to pick up the Ax Man Rye for later tasting, along with a couple of others.

Drygate is a pleasant, swish place to spend a lunchtime and although the look is familiar to anyone who’s visited a modern beer bar, it’s done well and is more welcoming that many of its peers. It even comes complete with the de rigeur display diagrams explaining the brewing process, although I think they could have left out the definition of water. Even beer drinkers are familiar with it.

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Leeds Beer, Boozers and Breweries

Something Beery this way comes…Tall Boys Beer Market

 

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Leeds is great for a Beer, as you probably know. Pubs and Bars galore serving up all manner of treats for the thirsty foam fanatic. However, we all have those responsibilities and reasons for being called away from the Bar and back home before Beer O’Clock strikes, and it’s in these instances that that Leeds City Centre has limited options for those looking to stock on supplies for the Craft-inclined.

Exciting news then, with the emergence of Tall Boys Beer Market and their plans to establish a specialist Beer Shop in Thornton’s Arcade. Located at the upper end of Briggate, passing through to Lands Lane, the ornate Arcade is home to other independent retailers such as OK Comics and Chimp, and is one of Leeds’ hidden shopping attractions, nestling between the more brash commercial surrounds.

In order to get the lowdown on what might be in store, I dropped a line to Tall Boys  for a quick chat.

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about your background to start off with – have you been involved with any previous/related ventures, or worked for any other beer-related businesses? 

Tall Boys Beer Market is an independent bottle shop opening in Leeds City Centre. We are Ben, Cody and Nick and collectively have around 20 years experience in pubs, bars, music venues and festivals around Yorkshire.

Why have you chosen to start the business? Will you have a particular focus for the shop (e.g local beer/a specialism in beer from any particular overseas locations), or will you be looking to stock a wide range of Beer from a variety of sources?

We aren’t going to pretend you can’t already get a good beer in Leeds, we believe that we have some of the best bars in the country and that Leeds is at the forefront of exciting new food and drink offerings. But people’s desire for good beer is continuously growing and we can provide an alternative to your standard city centre off-license and a more affordable option than a bar. Our range will consist of the best brews from around the UK and the rest of the world and we’ll have growler fills, monthly beer parties and an online store too. 

We will aim to have an ever-expanding range of different beers from all over the world, but one of the most important things we want to achieve is a customer-curated range. If the people that buy with us are getting excited about American craft brews, we’ll stock them, but if they want more locally brewed ales, then we will gear the list towards that. We want it to be collaborative. The shop will also have a number of draught beer options available in growlers, which we are really keen to be bringing to Leeds at an affordable price.

With a strong lineup of specialist retailers in the Arcades, how you you see your position in relation to other shops and businesses in the area? 

Fortunately, we’ve already got a great relationship with lots of local independents, and the support we’ve had so far has certainly been encouraging. We’ve worked with a lot of the good bars and breweries in Leeds already but it’s been great to see other sorts of businesses rallying behind us, such as Village Bookstore and Laynes Espresso. We’ve also been working with Awesome Merch and we are super excited to have Leeds based illustrator, Idiots Pasture on board.

With an established business such as Beer Ritz in the suburbs and the prospect of Brewdog converting their current bar in to a Bottledog branch, you’ve got some tough competition! Do you anticipate hosting events and tastings?

We think Beer Ritz is great, but we want to give Leeds a city centre option. As for anyone else opening, there could be ten more around the corner, but we’ve identified the need for a good beer shop in town and we’re just excited about that for now. 

Within the shop we have two floors to play with. We have some exciting plans for the first floor in the future, but for the time being it’s going to be a drink-in beer café for our monthly events.

Do you have an anticipated opening date yet?

We haven’t released our opening date just yet, but it’s sooner than you’d think, so follow us on twitter, facebook and instagram (@tallboysleeds) to stay updated!

So, very soon the Beer Geeks of Leeds will have another location to congregate and converse within. A dedicated beer shop in the City Centre will be a welcome addition and once they open, I’ll be straight there to check what’s on offer. I just hope I can keep a lid on the Growler until I get home, otherwise I’ll find myself on the Tall Bloke’s Job Market…

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