'Beer-Searcher's 'Baton charge' to Scotland is underway - Scott Lloyd reveals some of Scotland's finest Breweries - their history and their ales along the final stages of the Queen's Baton Relay'.



Day 39, Tuesday 22nd July - The Commonwealth Games Glasgow - The home straight!


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on the - Clockwork Beer Company


Clockwork beer co

The excitement is palpable - a multicultural mix of colours and music, creating a unique Glaswegian tartan of humanity, as the Baton passes through the City's major landmarks for the last time.  One such is Mount Florida, within sight of Hampden Park and some two hundred metres from this, our last featured brewery - The Clockwork Beer Co on the Cathcart Road, south of the Clyde in the south east of the City.  This Micro-brewery of considerable renown, was originally a pub owned by Robin and Gay Graham, purchased and re-furbished in 1997, becoming Glasgow's first brewpub.  A portfolio of Thistle Pubs Co 111, including Clockwork were subsequently acquired by Maclay Inns, with Clockwork operating as the de facto Maclays brewery, now brewing its's own range of beers as well as Maclays recipes, for their pubs around Scotland.


Recently refurbished, this brewpub, five minutes from Hampden Park, offers regular cask guest ales from across the UK, in fact Timothy Taylor caught my eye - and frequently, imported German beers are available on tap.  It is a cavernous interior with evidence of micro-brewing equipment extending overhead the dining area and disappearing into an extensive brewing plant, evidenced through a window in the bar.  Bottled beers from around all parts of the globe rub shoulders with Clockworks own brews; Cartside Red; Hampden Roar; Original Amber; Craft Larger; to name just four.

Clockwork Beer co

The Craft Lager 4.8% is not for devotees to the mass produced varieties, this lager is dispensed under low levels of carbonation - aromatic, generously hopped, and light with a soft malt texture and finish.  The Oregon IPA 5.5% offers sweet citrus/lemony flavours, hints of west coast Redwoods, rich malt textured with a pleasant bitter fresh finish.  I am honour bound to mention the Maclay Liberty Ale 4.5% - another classic American pale ale, loaded with tangy citrus fruit that positively sings of independence, escaping confidently from sweet malt undertones, all superbly balanced.  Don't leave any behind! Ask for the handy two-pint takeaway cartons!


This will be a busy place once the games get underway with large screen viewing, quiz nights, live music, brewery tours, and next Friday, Tap-Takeover day features our friends from the Arron Brewery, and hopefully Arran Dark!


Like the games, Clockwork Beer Company offers a truly International flavour of both beers and recipes, a fitting place to end our last days Baton relay.  It is amazing to think that all 71 nations and territories represented in these games have now had a visit from the Baton since it left Bucking Palace in October. Tomorrow, Wednesday, will see the Baton opened along with a message read by the Queen.

Day 38, Monday 21st July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches central Glasgow


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on the - Drygate Brewing Company

If you are an early riser, and generally I'm not, it is possible to see the start of the penultimate day's baton relay at Anderston (6.45am).


We are still north of the Clyde, but only just!  Here, it is impossible to escape those past and present who have had strong affiliations with the area, and we're talking James Watt, David Napier and his cousin Robert, William Quarrier, Thomas Lipton, Duncan Macae, just to name a few.  Yet, just over a mile beyond City Hall and the old fruit market, my affiliations draws me to Drygate, and the Drygate Brewing Company.


James Watt would have known nothing of this 21st Century gleaming brewhouse sparkling with full width floor to ceiling windows, an incandescent gallery kitchen, 24 gleaming beer taps and a potential 200-strong beer list, most of which homes in on two ranks of spotless steel Mash Tuns, visible through a glass panoramic wall.  This is contemporary brewing - watch the brewing process, as you enjoy the delights of the adjoining 120 cover restaurant, the 70 seater beer-hall and the 60 cover roof terrace.


Opened in May this year at a cost of £2m, and in time for the games, Stephen Blancey of C&C and Scott Williams of Williams Brothers say as far as they know, this is the UK's first experimental craft brewery.  There is even a mini-me studio kit, accessible to all, whether amateur, trade or turning pro - 'you don't even need to know what a hop is', says Colin Johnston - Operations Director.  It can be as simple as book, turn-up and brew! There is no head brewer, three young highly qualified brewers share the role, each complementing the other.

Scott Williams has bequeathed the initial recipes for the core range of beers, thereafter the current team will create new and differing brews.  Currently, Outaspace Apple Ale is aromatic and hoppy; Gladeye IPA has notes of caramel and citrus; and Bearface is a top-heavy larger that 'refreshes the body'.

Internationally, brewers have engaged visitors in beer-production on-site, but to have a combined restaurant/bar complex, an interactive visitor involvement programme, a bottle shop, beer classes and 'meet the producer nights' would seem to have broken the mould of conventional Brewing - as we know it!

Day 37, Sunday 20th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches GLASGOW


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on TENNENT CALEDONIAN BREWERY

Back in the metropolis, yes its Sunday, but you wouldn't think it! Refreshed from South Lanarkshire, the busyness of Glasgow proper now seems less of a blur, less of an impact on the senses. The Baton route dips and dives, and somewhere between Glasgow Green and Springburn Park Relay is Dennistoun. North of the River Clyde and in the east end of the City, this was once the home of the Glasgow singer Lulu, who moved here as a girl from Brighton. This was a respectable neighbourhood - such, that until the 1960's, in a city renowned for its alcohol abuse, the Dennistoun area was "dry"!


Some small distance away in Duke Street can be found Wellpark Brewery home of the Tennent Caledonian Brewery which isn't so dry!


Wellpark is one of Glasgow's oldest businesses, brewing even prior to 1556 when Tennent was established. Nowadays the brewery is a 'one stop shop' that benefits Tenants brands and those of industry customers. A training academy, a commercial team and an immense bottling plant.

Tennent say that scale does not impact on quality, high standards of brewing, using historic yeasts, water from Loch Katrine and exceptional malted barley among others, gives their beers a distinctive quality and a unique flavour. Their flagship pints - familiar to most -Tennents Larger, Magners Original and Caledonian Best. The Best benefits from triple filtering, a blend of 10 different malts, producing a malty roast flavoured pint that is both sweet and smooth, with a pleasant hoppy bitterness and a hint of coffee.


Tennent also say that they are creating new partnerships with Scottish craft brewers, such as Orkney Dark Island (cask), Williams Bros - Cock o'the Walk (cask) and Joker IPA (Keg).. This may seem a 'crafty' move, but, the more craft ale delivered to market can only further penetrate what is, after all, still only a very small percentage of all beers consumed in the UK......... Now, where's that Baton?

Day 36, Saturday 19th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches EAST DUNBARTONSHIRE


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on the - CRAIGMILL BREWERY & STRATHAVEN ALES

Strathaven Ales
The Relay Baton has reached East Dunbartonshire, but  Scott, quite unashamedly, has diverted south east to South Lanarkshire to look at the beautiful countryside surounding Strathaven, a mere 30 minutes from Glasgow and an opportunity to walk to the Spectacle E'e waterfalls on Kype Water that winds its way to the River Avon.
Strathaven brews ales. In fact, Craigmill, the home of the current brewery, has been supplying the Strathaven brewery since the early 1800's, when the brewery was atop the hill from the mill, just on the edge of this once busy weaver settlement. The original brewery burnt down in 1847. The former 17th Century flour mill, now converted to hand crafted brewing, bottling and despatch is the home of Strathaven Ales, that re-emerged in 2005, with friends  Crag and  Douglas Buchanan and Allan Young.
Duchess Anne

Sitting quaintly on the banks of the beautiful River Avon, this brewery secretes a 500 gallon stone clad copper brewing kettle, with a live flame that 'burnishes the malt, via a coil - producing a rich roasted flavour and a distinct taste.  Their brewing capacity can top almost 40 barrels a week of crafted ales.  Among the regulars are the malty Old Mortality dark ale 3.5%, the sweet Clysedale pale ale 3.8%, the citrusy Claverhouse red ale 4.5%, the dark Craigmill Mild 3.5% and the Duchess Anne - Blonde 3.9%.


Now, Scott has a penchant for Blondes and Duchess Anne, named after the first Duchess of Hamilton, brewed with malted wheat, pilsener (larger) malt and flavoured with Meadowsweet - will do very nicely! If you want to track down Duchess Anne try Longtitude: -4.049621 and Latitude: 55.665968 but be quick, or Lord Kelvin 4.2% might beat you to it!

Day 35, Friday 18th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on the - LOCH LOMAND BREWERY

Loch Lomond Brewery

Leaving Jamestown for Clydebank, a runner, seeking a more leisurely journey, could do worse than to hire a small pleasure craft, to let the boat take the strain!  The River Leven, flowing from Loch Lomond is reputed to be the second fastest flowing river in Scotland, it would make quick time!  Our runner, already dehydrated from a previous leg, should make landfall after Jamestown in Alexandria.


A few metres inland, and next to the Loch Lomond distillery are the delights of the romantically named Loch Lomond Brewery.  This would provide a most welcome break.  'From Pale Ales to Rich Stouts, we have something for you to try', say proprietors and brewers, Euan and Fiona.  They might also say that their passion is to create 'drinkable ales and something a bit different' - 'Ales with a twist'!

The brewery made its first trial batches between 2009 and 2011 when the brewery launched with three recipes, and they now have in excess of twelve, with the Ale of Leven 4.5% still their most popular, a SIBA Regional winner in 2013.  Another, is their Loch Lomond 6o/- (Sixty Shilling) - an award winning dark chestnut cask/bottle/ box ale with distinct malt and caramel flavours.  Both ales have won awards at the SIBA 2014 Festival.  Like our relay runner, I cannot linger longer, except to add that January's Meg's Tail Ale 4.8% leaves me hoarse!  It is Euan and Fiona's Burns inspired ale, brewed using distillers peat smoked malt.'  Teamed up with a slight sweet citrus finish'!  Visit Website

Day 34, Thursday 17th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches Houston - RENFREWSHIRE.


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on the HOUSTON BREWERY

Houston Brewery - Beer Searcher

From a disused cellar in the Fox and Hounds, Houston - a Baton arms length from today's relay runner - sprang a brew plant capable of producing up to 40 barrels a week.  This micro brewery was founded by Carl Wengel and his wife Caroline in 1997.  It was from here that cask ales were being produced from the early 1990's.  Prior to that the pub was owned by Carl's family, described as a listed building dating back to the 1780's.  Without doubt at at a time when cotton mills on a grand scale were employing workers in need of refreshment and sustenance.

Under new ownership, and recognised as one of Scotland's first gastro pubs.  The Fox and Hounds, along with the brewery has ongoing plans for future expansion. With a cushion of many award winning beers, major supermarket orders and the ongoing success of their bottled ale, Houston Crystal 5%. Carl, the Under head brewer, will no doubt continue to bring years of experience to their crafted ales.

Peter's Well - Houseton Brewery

Ales such as their award winning Peter's Well 4.2% - Champion Beer of Scotland 2000 and Champion Beer of Britain 2011.  Houston was selling upwards of 60% of its annual production to pubs in Scotland and northern England, with the remainder through the Fox and Hounds, a haunt for both young cubs and the older Fox....!  Visit Website

Day 33, Wednesday 16th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches Thornliebank- EAST RENFREWSHIRE


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on The Kelburn Brewing Company - Barrhead

Kelburn Brewing

For followers of the 'Baton', Thornlibank is a mere hop, or should I say flight of the ever present Kingfisher over the Dams to Darnley Country Park; and to Barrhead, where the successful family owned Kelburn Brewing Company is based and run by Derek Moore, his son Ross and daughter Karen. The Brewery was formed in October 2001 and commenced brewing in April 2002. Derek will tell you that his love of quality ale led to the forming of the Renfrewshire Branch of CAMRA in 1981.  Experience gained in the Houston Brewery resulted in both Derek and his son creating award-winning ales.

Hop, Sip & Slump - Kelburn Brewing

The Kelburn Brewing Company has an impressive arsenal, with no less than seven seasonal ales and eight regulars and fifty awards pinned to their shields.  Brewed to celebrate the Commonwealth Games, Hop Sip & Slump 4.2% is well on its way to the Bars.  This is a crafted British Barley ale with not a hint of devolution in the air.  Rye malts which will sustain the bitterness and whole New Zealand hops making a pale hoppy ale that might break a few records - certainly a well balanced session ale. Before we say goodbye to Kelburn, congratulations are in order for their Dark Moor - a worthy winner of the title: Champion Beer of Scotland.."Hoots Mon"... Visit Kelburn Brewing Website

Day 32, Tuesday 15th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches Androssan - NORTH AYRESHIRE


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on the - ISLE OF ARRAN Brewery - Just across the Firth of Clyde.

Arran Brewery - Beer Searcher

In the shadow of Arran’s imposing Brodick Castle, with panoramic views of Brodick Bay and Goatfell Mountain, sits the Isle of Arran Brewery.  This high-tech micro-brewery blends naturally with its stunning surroundings.  Built to the highest standards, to ensure that quality and consistency are maintained, the brewery combines the art of traditional brewing with a natural blend of the island’s unique water and the finest ingredients.  The result is a range of ales which, like Arran itself, offers something very special. 


'Arran Premium ales are pure – free of artificial additives and preservatives'. The brewery reveals an Isle of Arran Dark ale 4.3%, 'offering a smooth drink of weight and substance'.  Their Arran Blonde 5.0% is a pale golden beer, 'clear and zesty', while Arran Ale 3.8% 'combines a clean freshness with a significant presence'.

Arran Brewery Blonde Ale

Despite the 'occasional' presence of rain, this is the time to pick-up a 'Blonde', enjoy the delicate floral hop aroma, there is a subtlety, and a well balanced finish that will accompany most seafood and smoked salmon dishes. Of course, if you were on the Ardrossan to Brodick last Friday, you may well have picked-up a 'Blonde' for free!!


Arran is only about 2 hours away from Glasgow with a 40 minute drive followed by a 50 minute ferry crossing - every excuse for a visit!  Visit the Arran Brewery Website

Day 31 - Monday 14th July - The Commonwealth Games Baton reaches Port Glasgow INVERCLYDE


Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd reports on  - WEST


West Brewery - Beer Searcher

The making of 'truly great Scottish beer' started in 2006.  Ever since then WEST have been brewing the finest artisan lagers and wheat beers in the UK.


All beers are brewed in strict accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516, which WEST believe is simply the best way to make great beer.  Free from chemicals, preservatives and additives.  In establishing German roots in Glasgow, the company ethos can be best described as 'Glaswegian at Heart, German Head'.  A new state-of-the-art brewery is currently being built in Port Dundas - Glasgow North to increase output.

West Brewery - St Mungo

WEST is the only UK brewery to produce all of its lagers and wheat beers in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516, merging centuries of traditional practice with state of the art equipment.  It was a delight to meet Petra the Managing Director, at Imbibe (Olympia) recently, and to sample the distinguished ST MUNGO 4.9% abv, their flagship ale.  Full bodied but easy drinking, ST. MUNGO is a hybrid between a true Bavarian Helles and a northern German Pils.  Naturally carbonated, its malty sweetness is contrasted by a subtle hop bitterness.  Clean, crisp and refreshing, ST. MUNGO is a perfect food accompaniment.  Visit the West Beer Website.