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Indie brewery profile: Drygate, Glasgow

Glasgow's newest brewery, Drygate, was launched recently after much anticipation. But what's the story behind it? Indie Breweries finds out...

I've heard that the cats behind Drygate are too cool for beer school. I've heard they're all trendy typefaces and industrial-chic bar design and repeated usage of the word 'collective'...

They're cool alright. Even the press release isn't your average Word doc, instead involving .wav audio files where each brewer explains what Drygate is all about, and a plethora of nicely composed photographs taken by an achingly hip photographer you've probably never heard of. Plus, their logo looks like a funky caterpillar.

How did it come about?

It was a 'when Scott met Stephen' kind of moment.

I'm intrigued.

Scott Williams - of Williams Bros. - was approached by Stephen Glancey - chief executive of alcoholic drinks manufacturer C&C.

Williams says: "I was approached by Stephen Glancey who had been watching what other international breweries were doing, particularly those in the US, and he wanted to break the mould here too. He admired what we were doing at Williams Bros. He showed me the Drygate building and said: 'There's a blank canvas, what can you do with it?' 

"As a Glasgow native I'd always wanted to brew in the city, so this helped to accelerate things. For both us and C&C, Drygate is about investing in the next generation of craft brewers, letting them take the reins and brew fearlessly."

Hmm... Drygate's origins don't sound hugely independent...

But its practice does. Launched at the end of May, Drygate describes itself as the UK's first experiential craft brewery. It's situated in Glasgow's East End next to the Necropolis and St Mungo's Museum and the very un-indie Tennent's HQ.

Drygate wants to open up the brewing experience to the public and is offering groups or individuals the opportunities to book the premises to brew their own - use the equipment, go home with the results, the lot. This package, The Studio Kit, will be available from the end of June.

If you own a mouth with which to drink Drygate's brew, it's not too cool for you.

Right next door to Tennent's, eh? Cosy. What goes on inside the doors of Drygate then?

For a start there's a panoramic glass wall that allows visitors to observe the brewing from the bar and kitchen.

Forget beer - this sounds like prime Grand Designs material.

Right. The building itself is a shadow of its 1960s box factory former self and now boasts an exterior as beautifully glum as a Joy Division single, only with pitch-black cladding and keenly angled roofs instead of terminally gloomy vocals. The next-door graveyard only adds to the effect.

Is the head brewer a goth?

There is no head brewer at Drygate. Three brewers share the role.

Sounds anarchic. Bet there's mayhem in the mash tuns and gallivanting in the beer garden.

Hardly. These are professionals: Jake Griffin, previously of Loch Fyne; Alessandra Confessore, who has food and drink qualifications coming out of her ears; and Edward Furmston-Evans, who's done a little bit of everything prior to the current role. Griffin describes his move into brewing stemming from "a desire to be thrifty," after using fruit left over from his allotments to make beer in the past.

You mentioned a bar and kitchen, too. And they're on the premises?

In a classic 'why has no one thought of that spectacularly obvious and fantastic idea before' kind of way, Drygate has a 120-cover eatery, beer hall, outside terrace, private dining and private pods serving food from the team behind Edinburgh's The Vintage. We've had a look at the menus online, and now we're hungry. Think hot smoked salmon salads, potato and almond gnocchi and great slabs of beef to share with bone marrow roasties and confit shallots.

Should have put a warning on that descriptive bit. There's drool on the desk now. And I presume this kind of grub is perfectly complemented by Drygate's own brews?

There are over 200 beers available in the bar, but yes, Drygate's own three are part of that list. Outaspace Apple Ale is aromatic and hoppy; Gladeye IPA has notes of caramel and citrus; and Bearface is a hop-heavy lager that "refreshes the body".

All three have Glasgow School of Art alumni-designed labels, natch.

Anything else?

Where do we start? DIY beer club is held at Drygate every Thursday and invites homes brewers to meet and discuss the nuances of making yer own. There are classes on the history of the American craft beer revolution, Meet the Producer nights, evenings devoted to knowing your dunkel from your dubbel, a bottle shop, and a gallery and venue space with capacity for 300 people.  

So you could live there, basically?

There's no mentions of beds - yet. But in the future, who knows. From where we're standing, Drygate is on to a pretty exciting thing.  

Drygate brewery, 85 Drygate, Glasgow G4 0UT @drygate

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