Glasgow is a city where beer lovers are spoiled for choice, with several standout bars catering for even the most discerning beer fan, and Bavaria Brauhaus is a prime example.
It’s inspired by Germany’s beer halls, in particular the famous Hofbräuhaus, and offers Munich’s ‘big six’ on tap (amongst others) as well as serving up some great grub.
A stone’s throw from Central Station, you’ll find it easily thanks to the Bavarian flags flying outside this imposing, and impressive-looking, B-listed former bank.
Despite the temperamental Scottish weather, the seats outside and beer-barrel tables are generally busy – on the day I went, the sun was shining and the outdoor terrace was jam-packed.
This bar oozes atmosphere and transports you to Bavaria. The barmaids are dressed in dirndls and the barmen sport velvet waistcoats (alas, no lederhosen!). Huge chandeliers hang from the high ceilings which are adorned with murals, and a balcony level has its own little bar and a bird’s eye view of this 6,500sq ft venue.
In evenings there’s often live music, with Saturdays featuring an oompah band with a contemporary twist. They play everything from traditional songs to ‘oompahed’ versions of pop classics. When I was there we enjoyed an eclectic mix ranging from Ein Prosit to A-Ha’s Take On Me.
The drinks menu is vast and informative and has a ‘bier styles’ guide to walk you through your options: Bright biers – Helles, Pilsners and Kölsch; Wheat biers aka Weizenbier / Weißbier; Dark biers or Dunkel; Altbier and Unfiltered Bier.
I went to Bavaria Brauhaus with the boyfriend and two beer-loving friends who quickly pointed us towards the springtime special – Hobrau Maibock. It’s Munich’s oldest bock beer and is traditionally tapped in Hofbräuhaus am Platzl at the end of April. The tapping of the first barrel is a key event on the beer calendar.
It didn’t disappoint. It’s perfectly clear, with a rich copper/amber colour and boasts the toasted malt and caramel flavours I love. It’s also worth noting it’s 7.2 per cent which is far too easy to forget while slurping down this moreish drink.
To help me decide what to choose next, I called on the expertise of our chirpy (and eventually long-suffering) waiter Andrew, who humoured my 20 questions and gradually-worsening banter as the evening progressed. He told us staff training includes beer tasting so they know their products inside out. I bet this is one workplace where nobody moans about going on a training day.
Setting a beer challenge
I told him I hated weissbiers and challenged him to find me one that would change my mind. I think my exact words were ‘I don’t want a beer that tastes like a bunch of flowers’. He recommended the Paulaner Hefe-Weissbeir Dunkel, a 5.3ABV beer described as ‘light chocolate and cocoa with roasted malt aromas, finished with notes of banana and caramel’.
When it arrived I eyed it with skepticism and joked that it looked like dishwater. Okay, half-joked. It was a murky, muddy-looking, cloudy brown colour and didn’t scream ‘drink me’.
But I gave it a smell test and it didn’t have the same pungent whiff that so often puts me off a weissbier.
Andrew lurked by the table until I’d tasted the beer, to find out if he’d succeeded in his mission. I was slightly surprised by the taste. It was lighter and more watery than I expected. But its subtle flavour was just what I wanted in a pre-dinner beer…not too rich or heavy. Andrew left with a triumphant and slightly smug ‘I told you so’ face.
I went back to the Maibock for my next pint because it was too delicious not to. Then I moved on to the 5.3 per cent Hacker-Pschorr Gold because it’s refreshing and big on malt which I can’t resist.
I found room to squeeze in a sneaky half pint of Maibock before the end of the night, justifying my third return to this beer with the fact it’s seasonal and may not be available next time.
The food menu is styled like those you’ll find in an authentic Bavarian beer hall, and features a feast of options, from wurst platters and schnitzel to burgers and steaks.
Our friends had arrived earlier than us and ordered a Black Forest Sharing Platter to curb their appetite until dinner time. It arrived on a wooden board that was overflowing with an array of cooked and cured meats, pretzel, rye bread, bratwurst, pickles, dips and more.
When it was time for main courses I was tempted to go for the Currywurst, which I’ve had on previous visits and never disappoints.
But I went for my ultimate favourite, the Käsespätzle with Black Forest ham. It arrived in a mini frying pan and was topped with a generous helping of crispy fried onions, with a lightly dressed salad on the side. It was SO good!
The boyfriend ordered the same as me, and our friends went for the Hendl Schnitzel (a huge stuffed and breaded chicken escalope which was tender and tasty) and one of the Bratwurst options.
New offering coming soon?
This wasn’t my first visit to Bavaria Brauhaus and it certainly won’t be my last. There are too many beers I’ve still to try and too many dishes I’ve yet to sample.
The bar staff also told me there were plans to introduce a beer flight to the menu, providing the chance to try small samples of lots of different beers, which sounds great.
I’ll be watching this space for the new addition and am definitely planning a visit to check it out.