What is believed to be the oldest font dispensing draught Budweiser Budvar in the UK has just undergone an extensive restoration and make-over compliments of the brewery’s UK operation . Installed in 1989 in the top end central Glasgow pub, the Babbity Bowster, the font has been dispensing a steady four kegs a week of the iconic Czech beer ever since then.
According to Gareth Laurie, manager of the Babbity Bowster , which is owned by his father Fraser, the Budvar font was installed in 1989, the year of the Velvet Revolution in what was then Czechoslovakia. It arrived just four years after Fraser Laurie opened the pub and it has been a feature of this celebrated outlet ever since.
Down the years, according to Gareth Laurie, a number of attempts have been made to acquire the font, including one from Budvar UK. The Lauries have rebuffed all these approaches seeing it as something of a talisman. It has to be admitted that their enthusiasm for it has not been misplaced. From a gutted and roofless 1790’s building in Blackfriars Street the Lauries have created a pub, a bar a hotel and a restaurant with a reputation second to none that appears along with other top operators in the likes of the Michelin Pub Food, the Good Beer Guide, the Good Pub Guide to name but a few. After 25 years service the font had begun to look a bit in need of a refurb and the Lauries consented, but reluctantly, to its leaving the premises for this purpose.
Budvar’s man in Scotland, Jonathan Barnes explains that the Budvar offer to replace the font rather than restore it was made before, as he puts it “the font became an object of veneration and a treasure for the Babbity Bowster”.
A note for the curious: According to Fraser Laurie the Babbity Bowster was the name of a late eighteenth century Scottish courtship dance that takes place in the bedroom. Babbity means “bobbing at” and a bowster is a bolster. (2014-08-27)