Be prepared for a slew of brews from the United Kingdom in the coming weeks. I just got back from a three-week journey to Ireland, Scotland, and England and brought back as much beer as my suitcase allowed.
I figured I start my journey through UK beers with a style that is neglected on BBG but seems to be everywhere overseas…the lager.
West Brewery, located in Glasgow, Scotland, opened up back in 2006 and is the only UK brewery to brew all of its beers under the laws set forth in the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law of 1516. They can be found across the UK and offer a slew of beers in a variety of styles.
Their flagship beer, which I have for you today, is St. Mungo, a Helles lager named after the patron saint of Glasgow. It’s made with Dextrin, Extra Pale, and Light Munich malts as well as Perle, Tettnang, and Tradition hops. It packs a moderate 4.9% ABV and each bottle was a reasonable £1.49 (or roughly $2.15).
Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the beer. But it poured a clean and crisp light copper color with very little head building up. There was never more than half of a finger of eggshell white foam atop the liquid and it faded rather quickly - after a few moments all that remained was a dusting across the top.
The aroma was standard lager – pale caramel malt with some biscuity undertones. There was a light honey sweetness as well as cereal-like component to it.
My first sip started off very cleanly. There was a light carbonation that was followed by flavors that mostly followed what the nose offered up moments before.
Right away I was struck with a malty saccharine flavor. A bready sweetness led it all off with the caramel notes adding some nice touches behind.
The hops provided a light burst of lemon zest and just the tiniest hint of bitterness before the malts swooped back in and sliced out the citrus with a corn flake-like flavor that added some more sugary notes.
Everything ended just as quickly and cleanly as it began. The corn flake flavor quickly fades off leaving almost nothing behind…almost. The malts do leave a caramel taste that sits for just a few fleeting moments before they too evaporate and leave you ready for more beer.
I’m not a fan of lagers…there’s no hiding that. But, that said, this one is super easy to drink and actually has a very solid flavor to it. It’s nothing special, a standard European lager, but it’s one I could drink again…and again…and again. Perfect for a football game (either American or Scottish football).
Up next, located just a mile (or 1.5 km) north, is Drygate Brewing Co.
Drygate has been around since 2014 and, just this year, Rate Beer gave them the award for best brewery taproom in Scotland.
Currently they offer four year-round beers – a lager, an IPA, a rye IPA, and an apple ale. And I would have loved to tried that apple ale but, unfortunately, I was only able to find their IPA – Gladeye (not that I’m upset with trying an IPA…I love ‘em!).
Gladeye was made with five hops (Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, and Simcoe) and four different malts (Crystal 400, Light Munich, Pale, and Torrified Wheat). It’s sold in 500 mL (16.9-ounce) bottles with each one packing a 5.5% ABV and costing a very modest £1.75 (~$2.50) …which is practically a steal!
This IPA poured a clear copper color with two fingers of head building up. The slightly tan foam was dense and hung around for a while and slowly began to fade away, leaving big bubbles stuck to the side of my glass.
On the nose there was a nice balance of hops and malts resulting in a mixture of aromas and possible flavors. Up front there was the aroma of light citrus and piney hops but right behind the hops were sweet caramel and bready malts. Sprinkled in were some floral and grassy notes as well.
There was a slight carbonation fizz to start off the sip that quickly faded. From there the hops strike first with flash of bitterness and notes of grapefruit and lemon. From there, the sip turned sweeter as the malt added biscuity and caramel notes that actually played well with the hops.
Towards the end of the taste there was a huge pop of citrus – orange, lemon, and grapefruit – that made this IPA even sweeter, and juicier, than it already was.
As that late burst of fruit flavors fades away, so too does everything else. Gladeye ends really cleanly, with no lingering dryness or any off-putting flavors. In fact, the only reminder that you’ve actually just took a sip of beer is a slight citrusy, slightly bitter aftertaste that quickly disappears.
Gladeye, as it was quickly excavated from my tulip glass, leaves huge splotches of bubbles the entire way down and the 5.5% ABV is never noticeable, hidden behind the incredibly balanced flavors.
Drygate has created a really nice, super balanced IPA. Perfect for day drinking as, for the quality and the price, you could easily have three or four and not be too full or too drunk. Gladeye is well made and worth it.