Originally the Scottish Commercial Bank, designed by James Miller in 1930 in the American Art Deco Style, 92 West George Street is now home to the Shilling Brewing Company.
Glasgow has a rich a varied brewing heritage stretching back to the 5th century when St Mungo and his order were brewing and baking for the poor of the city. Tennent’s opened in 1556 and has been brewing in the east end since.
Of course, beer goes back much longer than that; the earliest written records in human history are about beer and go back to 4500BC from ancient Mesopotamia. Indeed, many anthropologists believe that civilisation started as tribes transitioned from hunter gathers to farmers so that grain might be grown for the making of beer and bread. So, by partaking in some pizza and a few beers today you are enjoying a tradition that harks back to time immemorial.
Shilling Brewing Co makes a nod to the commercial history of the building and draws on the rich brewing heritage of the city, with the first brew pub in Glasgow City Centre. Our beers are made right here behind the bar in the traditional British method with just 2 vessels; a mash tun and wort kettle. Our head brewer Declan has concocted an initial 4 beers to delight old and new beer drinkers alike. Think of the Brewhouse (point behind the bar) as a big kitchen. We’ve got 2 pots and just 4 ingredients that go into the beers we make here, discounting the nettles of course!
We start with malted British barley and soft Scottish water. The malt comes to us crushed from the maltster in a variety of styles from bready pale malts packed with lovely starch for making alcohol, to the sweeter caramel malts which are used in our red ale for colour and to add those toffee and caramel flavours. These malt will release the sugars required for making alcohol and form the backbone of the beers colour and flavour.
In the mash tun we combine hot water and the carefully selected malts, depending on the recipe, mix them up, close the lid and allow the the enzymes present in the malt the time to start converting the powdery starch granules into the sweeter maltose over the course of an hour.
After this, the mash is gently washed through with warm water to release any remaining malt sugars and the resulting sweet liquid, now called wort, is transferred across to the vessel on the left; the wort kettle for the boiling stage.
It’s at this stage the 3rd ingredient is added; hops. These climbing flowers were first cultivated by the Germans in the 8th century and are added to beer to impart aromatic and bitter flavours. Different varieties of hops are used here at Shilling from the earthy British varieties to the new world American and New Zealand hops; bursting with tropical fruit aromas. Different hops are added at different times of the boil; the bittering hops at the beginning and the aromatic ones at the end. You’ll know they have been added as the herbaceous, floral aromas fill the restaurant.
Once the boil is complete the wort is chilled down and passed into the old bank vaults below where our fermentation cellar is kept. It is here that the brewer’s yeast is added to transform the wort sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Depending on the ale being produced the fermentation time and temperature will vary but typically it will be 3-5 days for the yeast to do its work. Towards the end of this process, more hops are added to impart even more aroma to the beer.
When fermentation is complete, the beer is chilled to begin the process of maturation. Flavour profiles will develop and yeast will fall out of suspension. After about a week the yeast (and hops) will be extracted and the beer is pumped up and into Conditioning Tanks on our mezzanine deck above the bar.
After about a week of conditioning on the deck, the beer is checked for clarity and carbonation and adjusted as necessary.
The beer is then moved along the mezz and into our serving tanks to pour straight from the source. This cuts out the need for kegging and also ensures we have beer as fresh as it can possibly be.