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That pint in your hand has to come from somewhere

In a writer's job you get to meet some extraordinarily talented people. Take the man who built his own house to take full advantage of truly stunning Borders scenery, the welder and fabricator who constructs whiskey stills and creates breweries in sizes from nano to regional, the home-brewer whose Blonde is a highly marketable fusion of soft mat and crisp apple flavours, and the Isle of Man TT sidecar racer.

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The Scotsman  

The Scotsman

Caledonian Brewery rolls out Wee George pilot

HEINEKEN is opening a pilot centre within its Caledonian Brewery – famed for its Deuchars pale ale – as the world’s third-largest beer producer looks to tap into the growing craft brewing market. Edinburgh’s last remaining brewery from the heyday of the 1800s will produce two to three new test brews each week from its experimental line, which will operate as a “brewery within a brewery”.

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DRAM Scotland  

DRAM Scotland

New American pale ale from Caledonian

Caledonian Brewery has extended its range of beers with a new American inspired Pale Ale, Coast to Coast, the first beer to be developed in its recently-opened pilot brewery, Wee George. Coast to Coast, is a 4.6% ABV ale, brewed with full leaf fresh-packed American hops imported from Yakima Valley on the West Coast, married with British East Coast maritime malt. The ale, a permanent addition to Caledonian’s range, is now available to on trade on draught.

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SLR Magazine  

SLR Magazine

‘Wee George’ set to boost Caledonian’s craft offering

Caledonian Brewery has furthered its ambitions in the growing craft beer category with a new pilot brewery aimed at driving innovation. The pioneering pilot brewery, which has been nicknamed ‘Wee George’ in a nod to the brewery’s founding father George Latimer, was commissioned on 1st Jun. It has a 400L capacity and will produce two to three brews a week. Caledonian said the development will allow it to grow its presence in modern craft, bringing a variety of new beers to its customers and consumers alike.

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Beer Guild  

Beer Guild

Caledonian launches first beer from new pilot brewery

Caledonian Brewery is extending its range of beers with a new American inspired Pale Ale, the first beer to be developed in its recently-opened pilot brewery. Named Coast to Coast, the new beer is a 4.6% ABV polished bronze ale, brewed with full leaf fresh-packed American hops imported from Yakima Valley on the West Coast, married with British East Coast maritime malt. A flavoursome beer, Coast to Coast has a strong hop character and notes of lime, passion fruit and kiwi fruit.

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Sam's personal nanobrewery plant

Sam's personal nanobrewery plant

From Pints of View

Scotia Welding & Fabrication operates from the Borders, just off the A697 between Lauder and Greenlaw. The business is owned by James Sampson. Sam, as he likes to be called, started off as a qualified welder, working for a number of companies in the trade.

This did not inhibit his leisure pursuits, such as sidecar racing. In such a sport, being able to work with metal was a considerable plus. Sam worked for other people, worked in partnership but finally, found he was happiest working for himself. Sam's company has been operating since 1994.

Like many of us, Sam has always enjoyed a drink, particularly beer and whisky. If you have more than a passing interest in what you are drinking, you notice things, and then you like to find out more. For many of us that has been the route with real ale. First drinking beer, most beers, then becoming dissatisfied with the lack of flavour and blandness, perhaps also the fizziness. But not only did Sam notice the characteristics of the drink, but also the fact that more and more beers were appearing, produced by new, small breweries.

One thing these companies had in common was a need for brewing equipment. Many of them were starting up on shoestring budgets so they would be desperately searching around for second hand vessels to convert. For example, dairy equipment was widely sought after.

However such conversions require high levels of skills in working and adapting metal. It is also absolutely fundamental that there be no rough edges or sharp corners, nice places for bacteria to hide and multiply.

If you are passionate about drink, are highly skilled in welding and metal working, and prefer to run your own business, this situation looks like a really good business opportunity, and so it has proved for Sam. A lot of time is now spent on adapting and constructing bespoke brewing equipment. The geographical coverage of the usiness is impressive, from Shropshire in the English West Midlands to the Scottish Highlands.

As a business based in Scotland, Scotia has another advantage. The country has, of course, another even more well known indigenous drink in production, and because the brewing and distilling processes are so similar, there is a demand for equipment refurbishment and replacement, associated with the whisky industry. Sam has just completed the construction of his own pilot brewing plant at his premises and there has been discussion concerning a ministill.

© CAMRA Edinburgh & South East Scotland

"Welder spots an opportunity in micro-breweries"

The Scotsman: Welder spots an opportunity in micro-breweries

From The Scotsman

An engineering firm that has carried out work for the Belhaven and Tempest breweries is building a plant in the north of England as drinkers continue to show a thirst for craft beer.

Scotia Welding & Fabrication, based near Lauder in the Borders, is ­carrying out the work for Pamela and Ray Swan, who are creating the Old Potting Shed Brewery in a former joiner’s workshop in Gateshead.

James Sampson, 49, launched Scotia in 1994 and switched into working with micro-brewers following a downturn in his traditional exhibitions market after 9/11.

His first assignment was installing brewing equipment for Tempest in Kelso, with subsequent work including tasks for the Belhaven brewery in Dunbar and Fyne Ales in Argyll.

Sampson also worked with Barney’s Beer in Edinburgh, which was set up last year at Summerhall, in the former Royal Dick Vet School, reviving a tradition that stretched back to the 1800s, when Summerhall hosted a large production centre.

Sampson, who started his career making distillation equipment in Prestonpans for the whisky industry, said: “We’re heading back to the stage when each village is going to have its own micro-brewery.

“People are far more interested in where their beer is coming from these days.”

Scotia has also carried out work for the Hearsall micro-brewery in Coventry and the Stonehouse Brewery at 
Oswestry, in Shropshire.

The welder has benefited from a beer revival, which was triggered by the introduction of small breweries’ relief (SBR) in 2003 by the-then Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. Under the tax break, brewers producing less than 5,000 hecto-litres a year pay 50 per cent less excise duty.

Figures released in September by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) showed that there are now more than 1,000 breweries in the UK, the highest total for 70 years and up from fewer than 100 in 1972. Camra said that 158 breweries opened in the year leading up to the launch of its latest Good Beer Guide, an “astonishing” record.

Data published on Friday by the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) revealed that beer production is up 6.8 per cent year-on-year, with its membership swelling by a further 100 breweries, to 651.

More than half of those members said their business would be forced to close without SBR, which would dent the economy as micro-breweries now employ nearly 5,000 people in the UK, up 25 per cent in the past year.

Two-thirds of Siba’s members have launched their own businesses since SBR was introduced.

But Scotland’s booming brewing industry was dealt a blow last week when the 
Arran Brewery “slammed the brakes” on its expansion plans after being turned down for a £1 million Scottish Government grant to expand its plant on the island.

Article by Peter Ranscombe

© The Scotsman Publications Ltd

Get in touch with us

To get in touch with Scotia Welding & Fabrication simply call on 01578 722 696 or 07990 554 270. If you have a question about welding, fabrication or our microbrewery services send us an email using our contact form, or you can visit us at: Scotia Welding & Fabrication, Brigadoon, Pyatshaw, Lauder, Scottish Borders, TD2 6SH.