Drygate Brewery, First Experimental Brewery in the United Kingdom

My day started with a search for things to do in Glasgow. I opted to go to the necropolis first, since it was too early to start drinking. I saw that it was next to the Tennent Wellpark Brewery that offered tours. When I left the cemetery I hurried down the hill and saw that there was a place called Drygate Brewery Co. I entered, as it was very cold, and asked about the tour. They were not Tennent, but a “microbrewery.” Lucky for me, they had a tour that was just about to start. Then they asked me what do you prefer, something industrial or boutique? With that they convinced me.

Drygate Brewery Tour

I wrote to my friends who were staying in that neighborhood. They told me they wanted to participate in the tour. Shamefully I asked a family if they could wait about ten minutes while they arrived. Luckily, they told me they were  not in a hurry. We waited in a restaurant called “Drygate Brasserie”. At the end of the tour ate lunch. It has a good menu with local and fresh ingredients. The bread is made with the same grains they use to make beer.

Next to the restaurant there is a bar with 26 types of draft beer that rotate. The staff helps you select which one is ideal to combine with your dish. Since we had done the tour gave us a tasting of four quite large beers. The one I liked the most was a dark one with a coffee, vanilla and chocolate flavor. It is called Orinoco and was marketed as a breakfast stout. But a supermarket chain had them change the label claiming they were promoting people to drink very early.

Branding

Drygate Brewery Co. is the first experimental brewery in the United Kingdom. They are part of the Tennent Wellpark Brewery family, in conjunction with Williams Bros Brewing Co. It opened in May 2014. The building they use was built in 1964. It was many things before it became the brewery, including box factory cardboard, workshop and bottling plant. They preserved the original structure of the building, including the roof with seven sawtooth peaks. The brand logo was created with these peaks.

Be sure to pay attention to beer labels. The branding of Drygate Brewery Co. is quite alternative and they did it in association with Glasgow School of Art. Students created beer labels, for their signature beers including Gladeye, Bearface, Outaspace and Ax Man. Another, which has a lot of stripes, was made for a son of a collaborator who is four years old. Beer names arose from occurrences or from students.

Brewing

The guide explained to us the process of brewing. If you want to make your own beer you can buy a “Drygate Studio Kit” and make it on site. They are promoting new brewers which can practice with experienced people. If you manage to develop a good beer creation then Drygate Brewery Co. can buy it from you.

To make beer you need four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. Hops grow in the courtyard using the fence that divides the property with the necropolis.

To begin, Scottish barley grain is split into grist in the roller mill and elevated into the mash tun. Malt is combined with warm water releasing starch and enzymes which turn into sugar called maltose. Then the clear liquid wort and the residual grain is separated. The wort is boiled to sterilize it.

Bittering and aromatic hops are added to flavor the beer. The wort is cooled, then yeast is added for fermentation. Sugars are turned into alcohol and CO2.

Beer is then stored at low temperature to improve the flavor and stability. Dry hops are added for more aroma and flavor. Finally, the beer is packaged in kegs or casks, hand bottled or sent to be canned.

Wellpark Brewery

The Drygate brewery is inside the Wellpark Brewery complex that was founded by Robert Tennent in 1556. It is the oldest continuous trade in Glasgow. In addition, it is the oldest brewery in Scotland. In those times, it was much safer to drink beer than water. The original name it was “Drygate Brewery” but in 1740 they bought 2 hectares (5 acres) of a nearby brewery. They expanded the business and changed the name of the area. Originally manufactured strong stouts and ales for export. In the mid-19th century, J&R Tennent was the largest exporter of bottled beer worldwide.

In 1885, Tennent started producing lager. They built a new brewery on the site at Wellpark, which was completed in 1891. J&R Tennent produced the first draught lager in 1924, the first canned lager in 1935 and the first keg lager in 1963. The company ceased to be a family company in 1963 and was purchased several times. It currently belongs to the C&C Group of Ireland.

With an investment of £ 1 million, Tennent remodeled its visitor center in Glasgow. In 2018, they opened what they want to become the biggest beer attraction in the United Kingdom. As Ireland is no longer part of the United Kingdom, at least they do not have to compete with Guinness Storehouse en Dublín. Visiting the history center of Tennent has no cost, but you must pay to take a tour of the brewery.

You like beer? Then be sure to tour one of the many breweries in Glasgow like Drygate Brewery Co. Scotland is also famous for its whiskey. On my trip I visited the Ben Nevis Distillery.

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