Notes from the road: London, Glasgow
After the stylish launch of my Great Beers of Belgium (published by Running Press, of Philadelphia) at that country's consulate in New York, more support from the diplomatic corps ... the Ambassador graced the London unveiling of my larger new book Ultimate Beer (Dorling Kindersley, New York and London). A very beer-friendly gesture from His Excellency; Belgium features strongly in Beer (the big new book's rather blunt title in Britain), but so do the other great brewing nations. The launch was held at Mash, London's most American-style brewpub. The kitchen there is under the direction of Bruno Loubet, one of Britain's best-known and respected chefs. For the book launch, he served a swordfish pizza with the beer called simply Mash (a lemony, Saaz-tinged golden lager); an endive and artichoke variation with Brooklyn Lager; oysters in pancetta with Anchor Liberty; Toulouse sausage and sautéed apple with Orval; banana and vanilla cake with Schneider Weisse: chocolate and burnt sugar mousse tartelette with Mash's chocolatey, whiskyish Scotch Ale; and an almond macaroon with apricot jam to go with the brewpub's dryish Peach Beer. The non-Mash beers, all of which I have reviewed extensively over the years, are all available at sister bars and restaurants like the chic Atlantic Bar and Grill, in London. The Mash beers are also brewed in Manchester. The brewpub there, called Mash and Air was the company's first.
A newish American-style brewpub in Scotland, too: The Canal Pub and Miller's Thumb Brewery is on the road to Loch Lomond, at Annieslaand, a suburb of Glasgow. The intitial brews were made by Jim Sanders, formerly of Federal Jack's brewpub, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
As this suggests, the brewhouse is a Ringwood/Pugsley system. Beers include Golden Export, with a good hop bitterness; the very malty Red Rooster; the fruity, crisp, Independence Ale; and a very dry, grapefruity, Cascade-accented IPA, called Wood Cutter's. These American-style ales pose a problem for the Scottish bar staff. An enthusiastic and definitely well-intentioned, bartender recommended the Export as being "similar to Czech Budweiser Budvar" and the IPA as "a bit like a Scottish Heavy".
In the city-centre (77 Bothwell at W.Campbell) Leonardo and Company looks like an American brewpub, but is actually a beer-friendly, eclectic, pasta restaurant. Its house beer, called Leonardo's, is the refreshing, fruity (peachy?) Caledonian Blond served under nitrogen, but cask beers are also on tap. There is a good range of Scottish brews, and some Belgians, with a less impressive selection from elsewhere.
Also in the heart of the city (St Vincent Place at George Square), The Counting House is a pub in a spectacular a former bank building. Guest cask beers when I called included the drily malty Wildcat, from Tomintoul. This pub is in the Wetherspoon chain, all of which feature cask ales.
In the West End, the rival Hogshead chain has converted a former school building into a pub. This Hogshead (in Woodlands Rd, near Great Western Rd) has a ground-level cellar, cooled and behind glass, with a dozen cask beers, eight or nine of which are on offer at any one time.
Published: DEC 5, 1998
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