Tucked behind the mighty Tennants metropolis in the East End, you’ll find a small, micro-wonder of a brewery, aiming to make craft beer hip again
For those who live in Scotland and are partial to indulging in a craft beer or two, the name Drygate might be familiar to you. The Glasgow-based micro-brewery has gained a lot of love from beer drinkers up and down the nation in a short space of time, making it highly likely that you’ll find the company’s products occupying a space on most shelves in all good big-name supermarkets. So, to find out a bit more about the company, and of course to sample some of their finely crafted treats, we set out to their little brewery in East End to see just how they make their beer.
The first thing you notice upon arrival at their trendy little beer shack, is that it’s completely overshadowed by Tennant’s whoppingly huge production factory, with Drygate’s facilities tucked away just next door to it. While Tennants may lend their land to the small-brewery, that’s pretty much where the similarities between the two companies end.
Through the doors of the building, you’re greeted with a restaurant style setting, with wooden benches and industrial style décor climbing across all the walls and ceilings. It’s style seems to fit the bohemian, indie vibe of the companies’ products — which are all available in the neatly tucked little bottle shop to the right of the main entrance. In said shop, we encountered a wide range of established guest beers, from favourites like Brewdog, to Williams Bros, and even some rather more rare and, err, interesting flavours, like a peculiar chilli and mango IPA.
Back through the restaurant, you’ll find the bar (shock, horror; right?), with 26 rotating taps pouring out a whole heap of deliciously tempting tipples, from saisons to stouts, IPAs to pilsners, and all with some exceptionally thought-out names. Picks of the bunch include Disco Forklift Truck, Sugar Shack Moose Attack, Take Me To The River, and — our personal favourite — ‘Godspeed You!’ Black Saison, which is everything you want in a beer’s name. That being said, everything about Drygate’s drinks are greatly thought-out, from the packaging designs, to titles, and of course the all-important taste.
While sat at a table near the bar awaiting imminent tour of the brewery, we can already see exactly where the tour will be taking place, thanks to the panoramic windows which peek through the entirety of the brewery next door. Being a micro-brewery, it’s all on one level, so the glass gives, as they describe it, “complete transparency” to customers, allowing us to see exactly what’s going into their brews, and how it’s done too. It’s a nice feature, and one that makes the company come across quite earnest in their ‘no secrets’ style marketing.
Once stepping into the brewing area, we’re shown around by an insightful and friendly tour guide, who takes us through a small glass paned room first. We’re informed this is an area which guest beer companies rent out to brew their own small-batch, often experimental beers. While only having a small amount of metallic kit in comparison to the big room next door, we’re told that this little baby is capable of producing up to 500 bottles of small-batch beer — something they found out through their ‘home-brew’ event, where members of the public could come and pay to create their own beer for a day, comically resulting in far, far too many drinks for what was a very reasonable fee.
As we progress through to the main room, we’re talked right through the brewing process from the ingredients start, to the finished fizzing product, while showing us around through the many filtration tanks and general beer-whiz equipment that make their beverages taste so fine. The artwork from the main headliner bottles, like ‘Gladeye IPA’ and ‘Bear Face Lager’ have been enlarged to a massive scale and printed on the tanks too, adding a certain artistic touch to what would otherwise a rustic, but still supremely cool, beer factory. While it may be quite toasty and smell of mildly-simmering beer (not that that’s a bad thing), the information is pretty enlightening for any fans of beer — or those of us who like to know what sort of bits and bobs are chucked into the products we’re guzzling down.
After the tour, we’re taken back to the bar for the last part of our experience, where we’re given four beers (1/3 pints, let’s not go too crazy) to sample, to get a sense of the wide variety of flavours Drygate throw on your palette. Delicately placed in a four-piece wooden chalice holder are a gluten-free Pilsner, the hoppy ‘Seven Peaks’ IPA, a tart-tingling sour Gose titled ‘Take Me To The River’, and an intensely rich ‘Orinoco’ chocolate, coffee milk stout. Apart from being some of the most contrasting tastes you could put next to one another, each drink has an exceptional amount of detail in flavour and serves to be a vivid selection of the type of drinks Drygate offer.
For a measly £10 per person, anyone can come along on a Sunday and get a tour of Drygate’s facilities, something which — we can confirm — is well worth doing.