A real Glasgow West End challenge is to be walking down to the end of Byers Road and not go into the Three Judges for a cheeky pint. The golden script and enormous windows commanding the corner of Byers and Dumbarton Roads lure you in.
You know what’s inside: eight real ale pumps and a cider pump, which change ever week, so you never quite know what you are going to find. You do know you will come across beer from some little brewery you have never heard of, beer from your favourite Scottish and English microbreweries, and you know that it will be good.
The Judges has won numerous CAMRA awards and the staff are knowledgeable about their ales – most importantly that means they know how to care for the casks. The pub makes that CAMRA membership worthwhile because CAMRA members receive a ten percent discount.
There is more to the Judges than just real ales. If ales aren’t up your alley, they have the usual suspects like Tennent’s, Guinness, Belhaven, and Peroni on tap. It’s a pub where you can still have a conversation without shouting over a PA turned up to 11. They have a TV, but it’s usually off unless there is rugby or live horse racing on. The pub’s affection for rugby is unmistakable, given the Six Nations flags decorating the ceiling along with badges commemorating the hundreds of beers that have passed through the pumps.
If you fancy live music, they have jazz on Sundays or if the pub quiz is your thing, they have one of those on Mondays. I attempted the pub quiz and had the distinction of coming last, concluding that it’s a tough one, at least for people who are terrible at pub quizzes. The winner received a £30 voucher to the pub, which pays for about eight pints as the prices are competitive for the West End, averaging £3.50 for a pint.
The Judges hasn’t gone the way of the gastropub; you can buy a pie there during the day and that’s it. Not a bad thing, as it’s a beer drinker’s pub and doesn’t need to be anything else.
It has a warm ambiance inside, with old school dark wood panelling, a high Victorian ceiling, benches around the nooks and crannies on the edges, tables in centre, and loos so small you can’t swing a cat.
The downside, of course, is that on a Friday or Saturday night, the pub gets rammed and you have to shout over everyone else who’s in there, but that’s to be expected in such a popular and well-regarded establishment.
There is a vibrant mix of locals and students, not surprising as real ales are gaining appeal among more demographics than middle-aged white males. West enders appreciate the Judges’ vibe: it’s not a football pub or a pub with a DJ, but rather one you visit to enjoy quality beer and catch up with your mates.
The Three Judges
141 Dumbarton Road G11 6PR
0141 337 3055