Glasgow: Pubs

Posted on 2 September 2004 in Pubs, Travel and Holidays (3 comments)

Now it's a rare person who doesn't go on holiday and have a pint or two. And I am not one of those people. So naturally we went to the pub.

And lo, this is the tale of us going to the pub.

The Counting House

Our first pub visit was to a branch of Wetherspoons. It was big and it was right next door to the tourist information office. Tourist leaflets in hand we ventured in.

A former grand looking bank, there was a huge bar and central room, and several side rooms including two no-smoking areas. It is ultimately though a Wetherspoons and you know what to expect - lots of beer and cheap prices. There were about 8 or 9 handpulls on, although depressingly one was Courage Directors. Caledonian's 80/- and Deuchars however were also there as were several other Scottish and English beers.

However it has to be said that there was one prime reason that this pub sticks in the mind. Its main bar area had several large statues running along the ceiling. Some were holding scales, others scrolls. And if you looked at them from just the right angle, the ones with the scrolls looked like they were holding giant erect penises.... A good family pub.

The Counting House, Saint Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2DH

Tennants Bar

On the recommendation from some staff at the BBC's Glasgow office, we headed up to the West End to get some tea on Saturday. We had a rather Anglicised currie in a former cinema now called Creme de la Creme before looking for a watering hole.

Annoyingly we'd left our list of recommended pubs at the hotel so began scouring the streets before stumbling on the Tennants Bar. We later found out it was on Catherine's "list of pubs to avoid" although given it had 12 handpulls I was glad we didn't.

Yes it was a bit blokey but it seemed alright so we propped the bar for a bit and had a few pints. Annoyingly one beer was London Pride, but I settled for some Orkey Dark Island (a lovely Scottish 60/- - or to the English, a mild) and and a pint of Harviestoun's Gold Rush before rushing off to get the Subway home. If you like your ales, pop by.

Tennents Bar, 191 Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8TN

The Edward Wylie

Sunday evening was planned to be something special - trying out a couple of historic pubs in Glasgow city thanks to the Camra National Inventory.

Unfortunately it didn't go according to plan. We ain't big footie types and it was the day of the Celtic/Rangers derby. Pubs full of drunk blokes celebrating/drowning their sorrows didn't appeal and the bouncers stood outside The Houseshoe Bar didn't appeal (even though we couldn't see inside). We decided to try the Steps Bar instead but whilst patiently waiting to cross the road, noticed not too far away someone being given a mighty kicking and staggering around, as a gang ran off into the distance. It was then we noticed with shock, the bloke lying on the floor nearby.

In a kind of stunned way we stood and watched as a crowd of people (who were nearer) went to assist before decided that we'd head for somewhere we knew would be safe - back to the Counting Houses instead which was quiet and friendly and football free.

Having decided we needed a change, we headed for another Wetherspoons nearer the hotel - this was The Edward Wylie. A rather modern and hotel-like bar, it did at least have Harviestoun Schiehallion - a rather pleasant handpulled lager.

The Edward Wylie, 107-109 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 7JL

Upstairs at the Ubiquitous Chip

Monday was time for more adventure as we were back in the West End. We'd heard about the Ubiquitous Chip and its nice food and so decided to try the upstairs bar.

Interesting this was the first time on our trip that I'd seen the traditional Scottish beer founts - brass founts where the beer is served by air pressure in the cellar. And a lovely pint they do serve - both Caledonian 80/- and Deuchars IPA were on offer. We also had some food - very nice too.

The place was rather simple with a slightly student feel to it, but cosy non-the-less.

The Ubiquitous Chip, 12 Ashton Lane, Glasgow G12 8SJ

Clutha Vaults

Early evening and we found the Clutha Vaults near the banks of the Clyde. Big folk and poetry venue by all accounts, but it was quiet when we arrived. More Scottish founts - once you see one, they keep on appearing! Beers were Belhaven and more Caledonian.

It was everything you expect a folk bar to be - dark and slightly dingy. Seats needed recovering - they were full of holes - but the beer was good. Shame we didn't get to see any live music!

Clutha Vaults, 167 Stockwell Street, Glasgow

Steps Bar

We finally got there and what a place! To me this was a real gem, decked out in pure 1930s design - lots of curves and use of fluorescent lighting. The bar itself is a masterpiece - curved wooden columns holding up a top bit. Think Titanic style design and you won't be far off. Fantastic!

Unfortunately it was rather marred by the loud TV pumping out racing results to no one, and it had an atmosphere of old blokes. Oh and the only 'Heavy' you'll find is keg Tennents 70/-. Maybe it's different in the evening, and they've got one hell of a whisky collection. If you're in the area, it has to be seen.

Steps Bar, 62 Glassford Street, Glasgow

Horseshoe Bar

Another on the CAMRA list - lots of ornate mirrors, a very long bar and lots of horseshoe shaped things. The central island bar is huge with many twists and turns, and huge spirt barrells in the middle, plus beer founts mixed in with beer engines.

Oh and did I mention one of the guest ales was Fraoch - a divine heather ale? I didn't? Oh well...

And if you want a three course lunch, it costs £3.20. Although one of the desert choices is fruit and jelly... Anyway... With all that, there has to be a catch. And there is.

TVs. Everywhere. Often two together. There were probably something like 20 of them. A bit over the top? Probably. It did spoil what was otherwise a very nice pub interior.

Horseshoe Bar, 17-21 Drury Street, Glasgow

Frankenstein 1818

In Edinburgh there is a Frankie themed pub. It's in a former church, is suitably gothic looking and is an experience. It's a bit of fun.

There's one in Glasgow. It is in what looks like an old bank. It is not suitably gothic looking. It looks like some trendy wannabe bar with some Frankenstein stuff randomly plonked about. There are loads of annoying TVs showing (for some unknown reason) Fashion TV. It looks crap. It looks very crap. It is a let down. It just goes to show that if you have a concept, you have to have the right venue. And this isn't it.

Frankenstein 1818, 92 West George Street, Glasgow

The Sir John Moore

The final pub on our weekend was The Sir John Moore - another Wetherspoons very close to our hotel. Again chance to sample some Orkey Dark Island (yummy) it was again hotel bar like - modern and non-descript. Ultimately like The Edward Wylie, it's located in hotel land and in a modern building. What more can be said decour wise. The staff were nice and friendly and the beer good though.

And with all that drinking, we went to bed...

The Sir John Moore, Argyle Street Glasgow G2 8QW

< previous | top ^ | next >

Share this page on

Your Comments

Jamie Wallace said:

Andrew, great review on the Glasgow pubs you visited! Would you mind if we add a link to the site we're building on Historic Scottish Pubs?

Posted on 12 August 2008 at 12:47 AM

Andrew Bowden said:

Feel free!

Posted on 12 August 2008 at 9:14 AM

Peggy Costello said:

I was a vistor in Glasglow in May, 2008. Walking Byers Road and found Tennant's Pub. I really enjoyed my lunch there and the men behind the bar were just great. I loved the look of the Pub. I felt very comfortable in there. The other patrons were friendly. If I lived there, I imagine I would patronize it on a regular basis. I am not a "tavern" type person (if there is such a type) but enjoyed this pub. I am from Ohio, USA

Posted on 23 December 2008 at 1:28 AM

Have your say

Sorry but comments on this post are closed, but you can still email me.

Cookies Policy | Contact Us