Design Focus: The Beer Kitchen
Anticipation for the venue has been fierce ever since Scotland’s second-biggest craft brewer announced plans to bring its successful bar and restaurant concept West last year.
“From day one we wanted to open in Glasgow. It’s been worth the wait and we’re so excited to be on Ashton Lane. It’s a great location and great space,” says Managing Director of Innis & Gunn Retail, David Hall, who has spearheaded the Beer Kitchen concept alongside the company’s Founder Master Brewer, Dougal Sharp.
The huge brewpub/restaurant, which opened last month, has appeal to beer aficionados and novices alike. With a total capacity of 396, it spans 6,000 square feet across three floors in the former home of Ketchup and its upstairs neighbour The Research Club. The brewer is leasing the building from Stefan King’s G1 Group, but has full control over operations.
A £600K revamp of the site by Edinburgh architect firm Morgan McDonnell, who also worked on the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchens in Edinburgh, Dundee and St Andrews, began in January and took three months.
Entering from the popular cobbled lane, customers can turn right into the ground floor bar or head left upstairs to the restaurant and Attic Bar. In the bar, it’s clear that brewing literally lies at the heart of this venture. Glasgow’s Beer Kitchen is the first to have an onsite microbrewery and the gleaming stainless steel brew kit sits proudly in the far corner of the ground floor, just metres across from the bar where the end product is served. Customers can even grab a table right beside it to watch head brewer Digger Robinson at work.
Opposite the microbrewery is a corner display “cellar” encased in thick glass panels decorated with artwork by Edinburgh graphic design agency Contagious, who have also redesigned the Beer Kitchen branding.
Guy Morgan, co-director of Morgan McDonnell, led the Beer Kitchen’s design and build. He said the idea was to be “upfront and honest” about the whole brewing process and to make it as open and visual as possible “to highlight the freshness of the beer and allow people to see that process happen.”
A long, grey and metal bar runs along the back right-hand wall. It’s topped with burnished zinc and fronted with textured cement screed. The back bar boasts 17 metal keg taps and three cask taps set beneath a chalkboard sign detailing what’s on offer. Built-in beer fridges display over 50 types of craft beers and cider while rows of mirror and glass shelves boast a select range of spirits.
At the end of the bar sit three 2.5-hectolitre black and silver beer tanks which deliver fresh pints of unpasteurised, rotating special edition and one-off brews made in the microbrewery. This beer goes straight to tap in seconds through a pipe above the bar. A tall U-shape stainless steel “beer infuser” which sits on the bar top shows beer from the tanks being funnelled through ingredients like fresh watermelon for another unique brew, one of many that can be sampled at a nearby tasting table.
While this area has an industrial feel, a simple colour scheme and natural materials create softness, comfort and warmth. There are seven booths in various sizes upholstered in natural tan leather which stand out against the white Osmo oiled vertical timber pallet walls, light oak tables and oak flooring. This combination is used throughout the bar and first-floor restaurant and creates a look Morgan describes as “a Scandi-Scottish hybrid.”
He adds, “We really wanted to push the idea of comfort and went with natural leather and colours because we wanted it to be quite tactile and have a natural feel and colour that is offset against the wood and metal.”
There’s also a nod to the city itself thanks to Glasgow-based artist David Galletly, who has created intricate cityscapes for every Beer Kitchen. His red and black line drawings of Glasgow’s iconic skyline and famous sites are split across multiple black frames and hung in clusters throughout the bar and restaurant. Meanwhile, Contagious have covered the walls of the stairc
ase leading to the upper floors with funky beer-inspired images
A 60-cover restaurant offering casual dining that’s “all about the flavour” awaits customers on the first floor. The design echoes the ground floor by using the same materials and furniture. A smaller replica of the bar runs along the left wall to an open kitchen. Hall points out, “downstairs the theatre is the brewery so here that theatre is the open kitchen, which equally creates a bit of atmosphere and interest.”
The original brick walls have been restored and left exposed around the black window frames on either side of the room. Running the length of the far wall is a row of booth seating above which hangs another intricate Glasgow skyline by Galletly. A chalkboard wall beside the entrance lists daily specials and sums up the concept: “Food & Beer: the Perfect Pairing”.
Head upstairs and the design shifts to a speakeasy-style Attic Bar – a late night venue that will also host live music and private functions. Apart from the toilets, which were completely refitted, Morgan says it was a case of enhancing what was already there. Some existing elements of the loft space remain, including the magnificent wood triangular bar which will serve Innis & Gunn “hoptails” and two craft beer fridges have been installed at
the back wall.
The windows have new wood shutters whilst the natural brown tones of the colour scheme provide a subtle contrast to the muted greys of downstairs. Reclaimed tables, chairs and barstools reupholstered in three kinds of leather are set around the bar, along with some vintage pieces including a rocking chair, cabinet and TV. Two wooden cherubs flank the bar,and point up to a new hanging metal shelf installed beside the impressive wooden beamed skylight to show off Innis & Gunn products, including the recently launched Kith & Kin Stout.
Glasgow’s behemoth Beer Kitchen was made possible due to a crowdfunding project which raised £2.5m for the company last year, and is fuelling a thirst for more openings in the UK and overseas markets.
With its flagship Beer Kitchen offering unique and experimental beers on a regular basis, Innis & Gunn has become an exciting new player in Glasgow’s craft beer and bar scene and is living up to its motto which loudly and proudly meets guests as they step inside: “Born by unique discovery”.