Monday, 23 January 2012

A Walk around North-West Glasgow: 21st January 2012

I couldn't make it out for a long walk today so had to content myself with having a wander around some local hostelries in the North-West of Glasgow. It's perhaps not the most fashionable area of Glasgow from a beer point-of-view (compared to Partick and the Merchant City) but there are some decent pubs and also a couple of new/redeveloped ones. It's the middle of January so I wasn't expecting the places to be that busy on a fairly dreich & blustery Saturday afternoon but I thought there could always be the odd exception.

View North West Glasgow in a larger map

I started off in Milngavie, as far north as the Glasgow low-level trains reach. I've never been too sure about the place - it's nice enough but there doesn't seem to be much of an old 'centre' to it - it actually reminds me a little of some New Towns such a Stevenage or Livingston, I think due to the re-development that happened in the 1980's. In the midst of the main shopping precinct is The Talbot Arms - a one roomed, fairly old fashioned pub with some interesting window designs.

Today it was busy with the early football being screened on 4 TVs, but darts was also being played and there were papers available to read. The cheery barmaid offered me some tasters of the real ale, but I went straight for the Houston Mercury (also on were Houston Braveheart and Ayr Leezie Lundie as well as Pedigree in bottles), in really good condition.

They now do an all day breakfast, rolls, baguettes & chips (which I hadn't realised) which must be a welcoming sight for those people finishing The West Highland Way. It's a good place and easily the best pub in Milngavie.

Heading south out of Milngavie on the main road I came to The Burnbrae, now a Belhaven/GK restaurant/pub with a Premier Inn attached just up the brae.

There's a new extension round the back to allow even more diners, but I was quite happy to stay in the small bar area at the front for drinkers. Normally there's an interesting (normally English) guest ale on but today there was only Inveralmond Ossian as well as Belhaven IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Belhaven Robert Burns (which to be fair was not at all a bad 70/-) and there were also new fonts for WEST St Mungo and Munich Red which were being promoted on a blackboard. My Bearsden/Milngavie friends of a certain age all say this 'new' Burnbrae is nowhere near as good as the 'old' Burnbrae (definite rose-tinted spectacles), but I've always had a good meal when I've been in for food, and I like all the bric-a-brac, newspapaers, 1/2 pints of nuts and real fires blazing away.

I'm now pretty good at finding my way through the maze of streets from Milngavie to Bearsden and I managed to zig-zag my way to Drymen Road and then eventually to Bearsden Cross and the recently opened den (it used to be 55BC).

It's a long, narrow place with the front area used for drinking and casual dining during the day, whereas the seating at the back of the place seems a bit more formal. It's trying to be a pretty trendy place with red seats, grey benches, and silver tables, but the staff were certainly more than welcoming and chatty. I thought about having the coffee and cupcakes but decided that a draught WEST Hefeweissen (£3.85) was the better choice (St Mungo & Budvar were also available). There were quite a few people in this afternoon and I hope the place does well - it certainly is a more than welcome addition to Bearsden Cross.

Next I took a slight detour to St Germain Loch, just to the south of Bearsden. I'd recently seen a pair of swans flying north up the centre of Bearsden Road at an altitude of approx. 10 feet, an unusual and amazing sight. The swans had then veered off to to the west and I wasn't sure where. One possibility was this tiny loch surrounded by a housing estate & sheltered housing complex, and although there wasn't a completely clear view to the whole of the loch, the amount of wildlife present indicated that my guess could well be correct.

I then re-joined the main road in the direction of Anniesland Cross until the Forth-Clyde Canal and Lock 27, unsurprisingly situated alongside lockgate number 27 on the canal.

In the summer-time it's a great place to have a (cold) beer outside on the tables overlooking the canal, but in the midst of winter the lack of decent beer drove me away without trying anything.

Opposite Lock 27 are the decaying ruins of a brewpub, The Canal/Miller's Thumb Brewery, which shut down 8-9 years ago. I did go in quite a few times and although their own beers were not that great, at least they were vaguely interesting in the ocean of Tennents Lager then prevalent in that part of the city (actually - I do remember a decent, hoppy American IPA, but kegged and pretty fizzy - maybe they were just making craft beer ahead of their time!). It's a real shame to see the place like this and I'd also be interested in knowing where all the brewing equipment has gone.

From here it was a short walk down Crow Road and then through a supermarket car park to The Esquire House on Great Western Road, a Wetherspoons conversion of a local drinking establishment.

I've always thought this to be one of the better Wetherspoons in Glasgow - service is almost always efficient with the queues fairly self-policing, they have had a number of meet-the-brewer events and since you can see Anniesland station from the front windows, with the aid of WiFi and smartphone travel Apps you can judge drinking time and departures really quite well - important! Today I had a half of Stewart Cauld Reekie - a nice, sweet, warming stout with loads of alcohol heat.

Opposite The Esquire House is the old Ascot Cinema/Bingo Hall, now luxury flats, but the impressive art-deco front entrance is still present.

Finally it was a further walk south down into Jordanhill to The Three Craws, an Ember Inn (part of the Mitchell & Butlers/Nicholson's group).

It's in a bit of a strange location, between a car showroom and a petrol station, but Jordanhill station is just over the road so I'm guessing it gets a lot of after work (or after shopping) trade. I've never really thought the place was all that welcoming to the drinker, but they've recently renovated and it's a lot, lot better - good to see the improvement. Now you get hit with a distinctive sign at the front - go left for the pub, go right for dining (or else ?!) and on the left is a new large display cabinet full of beer and beer 'memorabilia' (although there's some weird choices in there) as well as a lot more tables, chairs and sofas.

On hand-pull today there was Deuchars IPA, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted and a couple of guest beers - Brentwood Blonde and Worthington Red Shield. The Brentwood was an OK golden bitter, but the Red Shield was excellent - an amber ale with a great malt/bitter balance that I could probably have drunk all night - a good end to my local wander.

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