Friday, 19 October 2012

What to do on a cold Scottish Day?

After our amazing adventure to Italy and Spain, It was time to get back to reality. We said goodbye to the warm weather and returned to Glasgow, where the weather was turning cold and grey as winter was soon upon us.  It was time for us to knuckle down and get into the day to day life of living and working in Scotland. After a busy few weeks, the day finally came when I had some free time, and wouldn’t you know it, It was pouring with rain and quite cold. So what was I to do on my day off?  I decided to look into some traditional Scottish pubs. The ones which were cosy and warm, the perfect place to be on a winters day. As far as Glaswegian pubs go, they don’t get any more traditional than “The Scotia”. So I braved the wet and went for a short walk to check it out. 

The Scotia was established in 1792. It’s Glasgow’s oldest pub. It’s located a short distance from the famous River Clyde. At the time the river was a thriving waterway for many sailors travelling through the area. When boats ported in Glasgow, The Scotia was the nearest pub. By 1862, the pub had already established itself as one of the most popular pubs around, but this was boosted even more when the 'Variety and Music Hall’ opened up right next door. This attracted a new cliental of performers and theatre goers to the Scotia. This influx of new patrons helped influence and shape what the Scotia is today, a music venue.  The pub is now one of the cities most popular live music venues. 

I’ve noticed many things about the Glasgow pub scene. One being that the city is littered with tiny (what they call) “Old-Man Pubs”. The type of pubs which are often quiet with a half dozen old men, hunched over a pint talking about football.  These are the types of places which can be quite intimidating to foreigners like myself. I’ve been into a few of these places already and have not felt welcome. I have to be honest, as I made my way to the Scotia, I expected a similar type of 'unwelcoming' atmosphere. I could not have been more wrong. As I walked in, I was instantly greeted by the man behind the bar. It was just the sort of pub I was hoping for. It’s low ceilings made for a cosy feel. The typical pine wood interior is exactly what you’d expect from a traditional pub. Around the bar was a collage of labels from previous beers that they have sold. Usually I’m not a fan of tacky signs or label behind the bar, but here it seemed to suit. It all added to the charm of the pub. As I pulled up a stool, I decided to try something new. I couldn’t go past the “William Wallace Scottish Ale”.  I’d tried traditional ale’s in London, and even though I could appreciate the flavour and I understood why people loved them so much, for me personally, It’s not my cup of tea. However, I love being adventurous, So I ordered a pint of the William Wallace. 

The William Wallace Ale is brewed by the TSA (Traditional Scottish Ale) Brewing Co.  They specialise in many different hand crafted Scottish beers. The William Wallace, is a pale ale which was made for people like me, who don’t usually drink ales. As I sipped on my beer, I could taste the hop flavours, but they weren’t too over-powering. Dispite it’s dark chocolatey colour, it was very refreshing.  It’s probably a bit to bland for your hard core ale drinkers. But for me it’s perfect. It’s advertised as having a fruity taste, but when you hear the description fruity, you may think citrus, which I don’t think this beer is.  If I was to pick any kind of flavour, I’d say nutty with a dry bittersweet finish, but overall quite refreshing.  The William Wallace was a good choice for me. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it has converted me to ales, but it was a nice change. I’d recommend it to any non ale drinkers. 

It’s was difficult to leave the warm and cosy atmosphere of The Scotia and make the walk home. But I’m sure I will return again on another cold and wet day in Glasgow. 

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