Edinburgh's heritage has a long association with breweries. Throughout the history of the city, brewing takes its place as one of the oldest and most important industries.
At the turn of the 20th century the city was home to no fewer than 35 breweries. More than a hundred years later, the city’s rich traditions are giving rise to a new generation of artisan brewers.
Among many of the new leading lights is Innis & Gunn, which has enjoyed a growing global reputation and a meteoric rise in sales since being founded in 2003. Capitalising on the popularity of the craft beer movement, its expanding range of cask-conditioned ales is now a firm favourite with consumers in the UK, Scandinavia and North America. Also shaking up the way craft beer is marketed, Innis & Gunn has recently launched two virtual reality (VR) experiences. Designed to transport customers to Scottish landscapes inspired by the flavour profiles of the brands' flagship brews, these are available in two London pubs; the Brewhouse and Kitchen in Islington and Highbury.
In addition to established names such as the Caledonian Brewery, which has been ever-present in the city for more than 140 years, Edinburgh has seen significant growth in micro-breweries.
Founded in 2010 by Andrew Barnett, a graduate of Heriot-Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Barney’s Beer produces finest quality cask and bottle conditioned beers in the former home of the historic Summerhall brewery which dates back to circa. 1705 and ran for over 200 years. In December 2013, Barney's Beer was declared one of the top 5 craft brewers in Scotland by The List magazine.
In a further success for Heriot -Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, two master's students Matt Johnson and Patrick Jones founded Pilot Beer in 2013. Specialising in unfined pale ales, their products are now stocked in drinking establishments throughout Edinburgh and beyond.
Other additions to the scene include lager specialist the Edinburgh Beer Factory, inspired by the artist Eduardo Paolozzi, who was born in Leith and is regarded as the founding father of Pop Art, Stewart Brewing, who even allow you to brew your own in their Craft Beer Kitchen and Bellfield Brewery, the UK’s first entirely gluten-free brewery, which has secured listings in more than 100 bars, pubs and restaurants after only four months in the trade. They have just launched Lawless Village IPA and Bohemian Pilsner which have been taken on by several distributors and the beers, accredited by Coeliac UK, feature the ‘crossed grain’ symbol, which shows that they are suitable for those who are intolerant to gluten..
With ever-more discerning consumers drawn to quality and provenance, Edinburgh's burgeoning micro-brewing industry is combining tradition and authenticity with modern, sophisticated production techniques, branding and distribution channels, squarely positioning the city, once again within the global alcoholic beverages market.
Five must visit Edinburgh craft beer pubs
The Hanging Bat
A craft beer utopia where customers can try before you buy from their range of some 20 keg and cask taps and more than 100 bottled beers.
133 Lothian Road Edinburgh EH3 9AB, thehangingbat.com
The Potting Shed
Unforgettable décor and most importantly 17 taps offering a selection of UK microbrewery beers, with a distinctly Scottish bias.
32-34 Potterrow, Edinburgh, EH8 9BT, www.thepottingshededinburgh.co.uk
The Stockbridge Tap
Currently the Campaign for Real Ale’s Pub of the Year 2016, set in the heart of Edinburgh’s equivalent to Shoreditch.
2 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh EH4 1HN
The Guildford Arms
A bastion of Edinburgh real ale and craft beer scene. You can’t get more central, just a 2-minute walk from Waverley train station for thirsty travellers.
1-5 W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA, guildfordarms.com
The Royal Dick Bar
The former veterinary school is today home to Barney’s Beer microbrewery. This fascinating place has a history of brewing dating back to the eighteenth century.
1 Summerhall Pl, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, www.summerhall.co.uk/the-royal-dick