A Glaswegian friend of ours in London had told us of this epic quest that all Uni students must partake in – Ring of Fire. You see, the tube in Glasgow is a circle, and the goal of this pub crawl is to get off at every stop on the line, have a pint, and jump back on. Needless, no one makes it fully around.
We opted for the more sensible plan of finding some of the coolest bars around and checking them out.
Okay, I admit it, we did this over two nights. I considered lying and making myself sound like the kinda gal that could do it in one, and decided I care too much about maintaining an honest relationship with you, my friends. So! Eleven pubs in two days!
Night one. When we got to the city, I had looked into potential microbreweries that were present, and had found West brewing. After a relaxed walk across the city up to the Necropolis, we begin our journey there. This was a vast, mildly corporate establishment, with some fantastic food and brews on offer. It was extremely busy – we were told we couldn’t sit at the bar to have our beers, but we coped and found a table in the bar. We had a lovely schnitzel sandwich, and a couple of their Munich Reds. But as delicious as it was, it was a bit pricey, so we moved on, to discover more of the city.
As West is Not in the city centre, and we were without a vehicle, we decided to jump in a cab. Be wary – cab drivers will take you for a ride here (literally) – and we made the mistake of not checking to see if the meter was on. The drive from West to Merchant City was completely unnecessary and we paid a fiver, when he could have told us that it would have been a five minute walk. Anyway!
We needed to regroup, and do some research. We found ourselves at the fairly standard Victorian Libertine, where I we each had a half a lager and queried the barman on the coolest pubs in the city. We won’t reveal his name as we don’t want to get him in trouble for recommending other places, but he was very helpful indeed. Then we turned peckish and wandered across the street to another gastropub, The Blackfriars, which is spoken pretty highly of online.
The ladies working the bar at this pub were absolutely fantastic. As usual, when we ordered, our lovely HSBC friends had cut off our bank account because we were traveling, and the pub was super helpful about letting us get cash back when paying for our food and letting us use their telephone to ring the bank. Then we split their posh Sea bass and Mac n’ Cheese, washed down with a pint of bitter, before continuing our quest.
Funnily, one of the areas we had been recommended turned out to be right where we were staying – Sauchiehall Street!
Upon arrival, we hit up The Art School first, without realizing that it is in fact a student union! That would explain the cheap nachos and beers that were in abundance, and none of it lacking quality for the price. I only wish there were more affordable artistic establishments like this one, without being an SU. Next we mosied across the street to Nice N Sleazy – which actually turned out to be a very cool bar, and they had one of our favs, Budvar, on draft! With brilliant wall murals and a great range of beers, live music and events, this bar meshes art with dive bar in a very appealing way. The only problem we were having at that exact moment was that it was rather loud – but we were getting hungry again…
So food Pit stop!!! The pizza cone! A delicious invention! Crammed with cheese and sauce and goodies galore! Mmmm…
And finally we end night one at the Black Sparrow, in their gorgeous beer garden out the backside. It’s still August but it’s chilly, and the heaters are welcome. We drink a couple of Weihenstephans, and retire for the evening.
It was the following afternoon that we had our fantastic tour of Tennent’s brewery – but that was only the beginning. We had put our luggage in the hold at the coach station, and were ready to do a fast paced race to all the cool pubs we hadn’t made it to the previous night!
First stop. The Ladywell! After filling up on fresh Tennent’s, and trying their new aged stuff (wow!), we stop across the street for another Tennent’s, in celebration of the lovely afternoon. Karaoke is in full swing and Will treats me to a dance – but it’s already four o’clock and our coach is at midnight!
We hurry up the road so we can catch a bus to take us to a pub our Libertine friend had specified – the Squid & Whale.
Now, I will say that we were told that there would somehow be a magical pirate ship out the back, but this was not the case. However, the creole temptations on the menu and great beer satiated us, and we pigged out on a load of fried pickles with, oddly, Strawberry Frulis. Then onward ho to Ashton Lane!
Up a few tube stops is this famous narrow alley, packed with cool and kitchy pubs galore.
First we hit The Wee Pub (part of The Ubiquitous Chip), off Ashton Lane, where we treated ourselves to some good old Doom Bar. With a cozy ambiance, I could easily make that kind of place my local. Then the obvious choice was to have a half at Jinty McGuinty’s, which was rammed to the gills. A fairly typical “Irish” pub (ha), the place was extremely popular, with standard beers and a nice smoking garden off the side. And finally, our last stop on the Lane was Brel – with only fifteen minutes left before we needed to get the tube back to the centre.
We got a couple of beers, and headed upstairs, for a bit of piece and quiet. Of all the pubs, it had the most “crafty” sensibility, with hard wood decor. We had been told we could sit up there, and the view and beers were a lovely send off. The only problem was it seemed that where we were sitting was the staff walkway, and they kept telling us we should be downstairs, and as we were nearly down with our beers we were pretty firmly shooed away. Ah well, it was time to go anyway.
Before we knew it, midnight had come and it was time to board our Megabus Gold sleeper coach – which was FABULOUS! Now, I must say the only other time I’ve taken a coach down from Scotland at night was from Edinburgh, through the mountains, with a hangover, after just having consumed my first haggis a few years before. So maybe my “fabulous” is someone grander’s “okay”. But with comfy, if narrow, faux leather beds, bottles of water and blankets provided, we were in heaven, and slept off the crawl straight through back to London.