(Yes, that would be a shameless reference to the Village People song.) The west I am referring to is however WEST Brewery in Glasgow. It’s the only brewery in the UK to produce its beer according to the Reinheitsgebot - the German Purity Law that demands only water, barley and hops be used in the making of the beer. Using an intimate fusion of German traditions, modern technology and the finest ingredients (throw in a lot of tender loving care) and the result is some of the finest beers I have EVER tasted – even rivalling Munich’s Augustiner (my favourite of Munich's breweries) for that coveted special place in my heart.
I discovered WEST by sheer accident, shortly after my summer interning in Germany. Serendipity had it that after staying at a friend’s place in Ayrshire, I hitched a lift back to Glasgow with her parents and was dropped off literally around the corner. With it being a very rare sunny day, I decided to walk into the city centre, cutting through Glasgow Green (one of Glasgow’s many parks). As I wandered past the striking Templeton Building I saw the word “brewery” outside and was sold. The faint aroma of brewing hit me only afterwards. I salivated: this was somewhere I must visit.
The Templeton Building on Glasgow Green - it certainly caught my eye!
The next week I made an excuse to take my friends. We got dressed up and made the short walk from the city centre to the Green. Walking in that first time felt just like walking into the living room on Christmas Day – a kind of giddy excitement that still remains when I visit to this day. The smell and taste in the air is indescribable. There is always the cosy sound of friendly conversation. The atmosphere is always welcoming – a sense of homeliness. The use of the space, décor and lighting lends itself to a kind of pleasant intimacy without it feeling crowded. There is even a beer garden looking out onto the Green and the People’s Palace if you are lucky to visit on a sunny day.
And I’ve not even got on to the beer – Oh! The beer! There are the regulars like my favourites; the crisp, I think in some ways almost fruity, St Mungo lager and the rich, aromatic Munich Red. It is almost a ritual for me to have a pint of each, starting with the latter, before a half pint of something different – usually one of the seasonal beers, like Oktoberfest and Weihnachtsbier. If peckish, I go for a warm, freshly baked pretzel on the side (unsalted is my preferred choice).
Nowhere else is such a delight for the senses. WEST has become one of my favourite places in Glasgow, and the beer ranked so highly in my books that I endeavour to drag every German I know there. If you are ever in Glasgow I strongly recommend you give it a visit – if you don’t then you truly have missed out!