Glendola Leisure has created brewpub Shilling Brewing Co in Glasgow. Interior pictures by James Harris
The elegant building on the corner of West George Street and West Nile Street in Glasgow has been through a number of incarnations over the years. Most recently Horton’s Bar & Kitchen, the grade B-listed 1920s premises were previously home to horror-themed pub Frankenstein. However, Glendola Leisure has taken the site back to its origins, stripping back architectural clutter to reveal the beautifully proportioned hall of what was once the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Working with leading hospitality specialist Jestico + Whiles, it has invested £1.5m to transform the space into 160-cover brewpub Shilling Brewing Co, with stylish contemporary design complementing the historic features.
Its name is inspired not just by the currency once held at the bank but also by Scotland’s historic shilling system for describing the strength of different ales. It reflects the bar’s specialism in craft beer, offering independent brews from around the world on draught and in bottles and cans as well as a core range produced on the premises. Open from midday seven days a week, it also offers a menu of artisanal pizzas, cooked fresh in a cupola oven using dough raised with brewers’ yeast.
The beers are made under head brewer Declan McCaffery who has a BSc in brewing and distilling from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and comes from working at breweries around the UK, including Clockwork Beer Co in Glasgow and Offbeat Brewery in Cheshire. The core range is led by the 5.2% ABV Unicorn IPA, named after a heraldic symbol of Scotland, plus the classic-style 4.4% ABV Glasgow Red ale and the 3.9% ABV blonde ale, The Steamie. Rotating small-batch seasonal beers have included Full-On Nettle Racket, a 6.5% ABV farmhouse ale made with foraged nettles.
They feature in the short list of beer cocktails such as The Spiky Horse, which combines Unicorn IPA with the complementary flavours of peach, elderflower, rosemary and The Botanist gin. The malt flavours of Glasgow Red ale match the red apple and spicy Bulleit Rye whiskey in Red On Rye, while El Fantasmo de Oro adds The Steamie to Don Julio tequila, chilli pepper seeds and lemon juice.
The brewery itself is in the basement, where the fermentation tanks can be seen behind a glass wall in the Brewers’ Room – a private meeting room with capacity for eight people. On the ground floor, the brewery’s two copper storage vessels sit on an elevated gantry behind the bar, creating an impressive backdrop to the space with its 20ft high coffered ceilings. The decluttering – which included the removal of a mezzanine floor and a steel staircase – allows more natural light to pour in from the original full-height windows and makes more of features such as the fluted marble columns that now frame the view of the wood-burning oven. “We have worked carefully to reveal the original interiors and have overlaid contemporary features that resonate with the building’s rich history,” explains James Dilley, head of hospitality and interior design at Jestico + Whiles.
The concrete floor is embossed with a large inset star, signing the way to the bar, alongside a raised dining area with timber flooring seared with the Shilling branding, with theatre-style curtains allowing it to be turned into a semi-private zone. One stand-out feature is a mural of a majestic, chained unicorn, boldly painted by Glasgow graffiti artist Gaz Mackay, aka Gaz Mac.
In the basement alongside the Brewers’ Room, the bank’s original foot-thick steel vault doors lead to the bathrooms tiled in a black-and-white chequerboard pattern. Jestico + Whiles was also responsible for the bar’s graphics and visual identity which references the traditional swirling “guilloche” patterns printed on banknotes, including a purpose-made typeface called Brew Type.
Shilling Brewing Co is a “shining example” of how Glendola Leisure combines design-led environments with top-quality products and service, says its managing director Alex Salussolia. It is the fourth business for the company in Glasgow after Waxy O’Connor’s, Alston Bar & Beef and Gordon Street Coffee. “This is our first step into the brewpub market – a new on-trade experience where the art and science of brewing can be observed by everyone who visits,” Alex adds. “Glasgow has led the way in Scotland’s beer heritage for centuries, and we are excited to now be playing our part in contributing to the next chapter in the city’s beer story.”
Shilling Brewing Co, 92 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1PJ
Tel: 0141 353 1654
Behind the scenes
Design: Jestico + Whiles
Main contractor: Hugh Stirling
Artwork: Gaz Mackay
Bar stools: LaPalma, Ambience Designs
Dining chairs: Andy Thornton
Brewers’ Room table: Koda Studios
Curtains: Southern Drapes
Partition curtains: Clarke & Clarke
Banquette back upholstery: Digital Print by Digetex
Banquette seat upholstery: Whistler Leather
Dining chair upholstery: Panaz Fabrics, Digital Print by Digetex
Electric blinds: BAB Projects
Custom printed wallpaper: Tektura
Lighting scheme: Blinding Light
Ceiling lights: Buster + Punch
Target spotlights: Atrium
External signage: Clyde Signs & Graphics
Concrete floor: Creation Flooring
Bar units: ServaClean
Brewery supplier: Brewing Vessels, Maru Projects
Pizza oven: Gozney Ovens
Bathroom ceramic tiles: London Mosaic, Walls and Floors
Bathroom vanity: Caesarstone
Sanitary: Villeroy & Boch, Hansgrohe
Originally published in the August 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.