Ffll & IRINK

Punting on The Canal

It cost over £2m. It brews its own beer. It makes its own food. Just what is THE CANAL? Words: Jonathan Trew

Ron McCulloch, head of the Glasgow- based entertarnment company 819 Beat, doesn’t seem to make many mustakes. As the man behrnd the former Maxaluna, the three Cul de Sacs and the award-wrnnrng Tunnel nrghtclub, he seems to have developed some heightened form of bUSIflGSS acumen Wthh operates Irke a brzarre erth sense. To date, he has demonstrated that he unerrlngly knows what hrs customers want. Sometimes he seems to know what they want before they do,

His latest venture, The Canal, a converted C-lrsted, art deco burldrng on Bearsden Road rs hrs most ambltrous venture yet. A former offrce block and trmber merchants, the burldrng has been gutted and extended, wrth the new space frtted out In perrod red buck and 1930s trimmings.

Along wrth a bar and games area on the ground floor, a restaurant on the frrst floor and a beer garden on the rooftop, The Canal has a purpose-burlt mncrobrewery at Its heart. In the Unrted States, mrcrobrewerres have

The Canal can brew up to 1250 gallons of beer a week that's a handy 10,000 pints which should satisfy even the drouthiest tippler.

become bug business. They were orrglnally establrshed to provrde an alternatrve to the hegemony of the natronal brewrng companies, but as more and more peOple fostered an Interest rn hand-crafted beers, mlcrobrewerres proliferated.

The Amencans wisely deCIded that If

you’re gorng to sell frne beer then rt would make sense to offer customers food as well and so the combrnatron restaurant/brewery came Into berng. The Canal's mlcro-brewery, Wthh trades under the name of The Muller’s Thumb Brewrng Company, provrdes all the beer that rs sold In The Canal. Brewed on the premises by master brewer, er Sanders, formerly of Federal Jack’s mrcrobrewery In the States, there are erght drfferent beers avallable over the bar. Sanders has set out to create a range of beers to SUIi all palates from the porter-like Black Canyon wrth Its deep coffee aromas to the lrghter Thumb Blond whrch has a great clean, floral bouquet. er of the beers are frltered and the other two are cask- condrtroned. The Canal can brew

The Canal bar will attract ale enthusiasts

up to 1250 gallons of beer a week ~ that's a handy 10,000 prnts whrch should satrsfy even the drouthrest trppler.

Beer apprecratron takes place In the wood-panelled bar. Plenty of booths guarantee rntrrnacy, whrle the deep- backed leather charrs ensure comfort. The more sporty can chance thelr arm on one of the two full-srzed Amencan pool tables; they are huge. Alternatively, you can exercrse the grey matter on the backgammon tables.

The restaurant doesn't operate a bookrng polrcy, so would-be drners have to order a table at the TGCGDIIOH. Customers are then grven therr own pager Wthh summons them from the bar when therr table rs ready.

The restaurant lS partrally drvrded between booths and an open-plan arrangement which allows dlners to watch the krtchen brrgade at work. The menu makes a clean breast of rts Amerrcan orrgrns wrth burgers, przzas and Caeser salads makrng themselves felt among the baby racks and Cajun blackened chrcken. The mandarrn shrrmp salad comes Wrth sweet mandarin oranges, grrlled Jumbo shrrmps and slrced almonds whlle even the humble cheddar and ale soup rs served with crrspy smoked bacon, fresh parsley and a doorstop of fresh bread. It’s hearty food, done well. There rs lrttle that rs complicated or unnecessarrly fussy on the menu, but the food us well prepared and presented. In keeprng wrth the Amencan motrf, the portrons are substantral. Those keeprng an eye on expandrng walstbands wrll fund the

dnshes that are low in fat marked with

a tuck, whrle the spicy foods have a


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The restaurant is light and spacious

chrllr drawn beside them.

The Canal proffers a sllghtly drfferent spun on the usual premrses that place as much emphaSIs on eating as they do on drunkrng. It's an Interestrng concept that McCulloch hopes to roll out across Scotland and the north of England, with nrne more of the mrcrobrewenes planned by the year 2001. If you really want to buy Into the Idea, then The Canal sells a range of Outdoor gear subtly branded with the Miller’s Thumb logo. Judgrng by Bug Beat’s prevrous successes and

the popularlty of the mrcrobrewery/ .

restaurant In the States, one suspects that we’ll be seerng rather a lot of Muller's Thumb over the next few years.

The Canal. 300 Bearsden Road, Anniesland, Glasgow, 954 S333.

Le Sept

7 Old Ii’slznzar/cr’t Close Edinburgh

lunch and dinner Monday to Thursday. Friday. Saturday and Sunday open all day


0131 225 5428

25 Jun—9 Jul 1998 THE UST 93