I was on business in Glasgow arriving a day early so decided to take advantage of my free time by visiting one of the institutions of the city, the Tennents Brewery. To a Southerner like myself it may not seem the obvious choice of brewery to visit when a short journey away could take me to a distillery. But Tennents has been an important part of Scottish and indeed British brewing often being at the forefront of the industry. It seemed only right I should make the time for a tour in the afternoon before my main reason for visiting, a whisky class in the evening.
It has been documented that beer was first made in the 1550’s on the Wellpark site on the banks of the Molendiner Burn where Tennents is, and always has based. From humble beginnings trade grew and with a reputation for innovation. The first bottled beer rolled off the production line in 1885 but just 50 years later in 1935 the company was one of the first to produce bottles in cans. This led to draught beer being available in keg by 1965. The site today is fully independent with every stage of the brewing process including bottling done onsite. The largest component of beer is water which they draw from the 11 mile long Loch Katrine which runs the length of Strath Gartney in Stirling.
The 2 hour tour was both educational and surprisingly interesting. I was in a group of circa 12 people and questions abound. We were taken all over the site from the vats where brewing is completed to the bottling line. The later was completed in March 2012 at a cost of £4m. One of the stops was to discuss barley and we were given 5 jars with different degrees of toast to demonstrate how they can impart a marker colour to the beer.
The tour finished with a tasting of 6 or so beers and then your choice of any of the beers on tap which was a nice touch.
Tours of the brewery are available from the Tennants Training Academy and include a tasting and a pint afterwards.