I’ve not had much chance to do my own brewing recently due to the fact I have a wedding around the corner, so disposable income is at a minimum.
However, I have been thinking about the rise of Craft Beer in Edinburgh (just down the road from where I live).
That is due to the fact that Craft Beer in the inspiring Scottish capital is on the rise.
For seasoned beer enthusiasts, you will know what I’m talking about – for those new to this world, you may ask, “what the fuggles is Craft Beer? Is it made from PVC and glue?!”
To which I would reply, “No – don’t be so silly. And put your trousers back on…”
What is Craft Beer?
In some quarters the term has led to a bit of friction and confusion. Is it a new term? A rebranded term? An Americanism?
I like the term. It brings to mind the notion that beer is crafted, made with the same love and care as that of a master cabinet maker constructing a mahogany cabinet.
However, across the pond you can find a less romanticised definition – to the American Brewers Association, Craft Beer is:
“Small, independent and traditional… the hallmark is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.”
So, what about Craft Beer in Edinburgh? To understand the ascension, it is important to understand the origins.
A (very brief) History of Edinburgh’s Breweries
Honestly, you could write a whole book on this subject. Attempting to summarise it may seem foolish, but here we go:
- No region in Scotland boasts such a wealth of brewing heritage as ‘Auld Reekie’.
- Brewing beer goes back hundreds of years – but it was from the 1600s onwards that commercial breweries began to take off. By 1880 the city boasted over 40.
- However, in the 20th century the smorgasbord of independent breweries diminished, thanks to a concoction of mergers, standardised chemically enhanced brewing and economic pitfalls – all leading to uncertain times and insipid beer.
- Famous companies vanished: Abbey Brewery, Holyrood Brewery and Fountain Brewery were cast aside to the annals of history.
Craft Beer Rising
The good news – Craft Beer is on the rise. It spreads throughout the bars of Edinburgh, invigorating the taste buds of drinkers.
This growth seems, in some respect, to have come from:
a) brewers wanting to create exciting beers, full of flavour and character
b) consumers who desire to taste something better than the mass-produced beers that dominated shop shelves and pubs for so long.
The Breweries Return
By the turn of the 21st century, only one brewery remained in the heart of the capital – the Caledonian Brewery.
Then, in 2004, Stewart Brewing was founded.
Their aim of producing high-quality beer and exceptional service has made the brewery a roaring success and has seen the company grow over the past decade.
The initial 10 barrel brew house has expanded and their beer has picked up an array of awards along the way.
Following Stewart Brewing’s achievements, Edinburgh and the surrounding area has seen a mini renaissance. New breweries have sprung up, such as:
Craft Beer Pubs
Now, it’s all well and good having breweries dedicated to the brewing of craft beer, but what you also need is pubs to stock.
Thankfully, Edinburgh enjoys a veritable wheelbarrow full of pubs with craft beer continuously on tap.
In public houses throughout the capital – such as BrewDog, The Hanging Bat Beer Cafe, Cloisters Bar and The Vintage (to name just a minuscule proportion) – Craft Beer is flowing into the pint glasses of happy patrons.
Long may it continue.