Glasgow – Scotia Bar

The Scotia pub in Glasgow is listed in the Good Beer Guide and it also couldn’t really be much nearer to the hotel I’m staying in. As with many cities, there’s competition and debate as to which is the oldest pub, with the Scotia claiming that they are the earliest having opened in 1792. It has gone through numerous incarnations, some periods when it had a bit of a reputation and some when it has become more peaceful and a haven for authors.

The service was friendly and I must admit to having expected a slightly more generic interior, but there’s a real feel of character inside.

It wasn’t overly busy when I was there, although the barman said that the folk band were arriving soon and that it would become more lively.

There are old photos, maps and illustrations on the wall. This pub has also seen its fair share of performers, not least Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty. The pub also advertises that they’ve had a horse in there drinking a bucket of Guinness and The Scotsman newspaper notes a local saying about that incident:

“We’ve had a horse in here, drinking. It was a wedding reception. They brought the horse in, the horse got drunk, whereupon it went out and collapsed in the road. The council had to get a crane to lift it.”

I was just little disappointed that the beer selection was slightly generic, for some reason I thought Belhaven would have something slightly more interesting. Then I realised I had forgotten something, which is that Belhaven is owned by Greene King. I make no further comment on that…. I opted for the 80 Shilling Ale from Belhaven Brewery which was OK, but that’s about as far as I’d go, although it was at least well-kept.

Anyway, this is a proper pub with some real heritage, so visiting is recommended as the service is friendly and the environment is clean, albeit slightly dingy. Glasgow has been a bit lax at times in maintaining its historic buildings, so there aren’t as many old pubs as there perhaps should be, so that makes this one even more special. A couple more innovative guest ales would be nice, but there’s a unique feel to this pub and I did like it. I can clearly see why this beer is in the Good Beer Guide, although I feel that’s more down to the atmosphere and heritage rather than down to the real ale.