The Edinburgh Brewers' Alliance
A powerful bond between 14 Edinburgh breweries
Thursday 23 December 2021
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Community is at the heart of beer. That doesn’t just cover the relationship between breweries and their customers, but also among and between the breweries themselves. Whether it is sharing brewing tips, collaborating or lending each other the odd bit of spare malt, it’s a community spirit that attracts many of us to try something different and to pop to our local brewery taproom.
This is the powerful bond that 14 Edinburgh breweries have formalised by joining forces to found the Edinburgh Brewers’ Alliance (EBA). Under the leadership of co-chairs Alistair Brown, founder and CEO at Bellfield Brewery and Vinny Rosario, head brewer and director at Moonwake Beer Co. they aim to share ideas, collaborate, and promote the enjoyment of beer from local independent breweries.
The impetus to set-up the alliance came out of dealing with recent challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased focus from the public on supporting local and independent producers. They had been thinking about how the independent breweries in Edinburgh could potentially work together for mutual benefit.
Alistair says: “While there is of course competition from a sales perspective, there is a strong community ethos amongst the Edinburgh brewers.”
The group is a pretty relaxed, sociable setup, meeting monthly at one of the breweries. As the formal session ends, there tends to be a lot of chat and discussion on all things beer and brewing. Alistair says a number of brewing collaborations have already spun out from these discussions.
"With greater communication, we are seeing more interaction and we hope this will develop,” he says.
The cooperative has been inspired by Bermondsey Beer Mile and similar walking tours in Bristol and Brooklyn, and intends to create an Edinburgh Brewery Trail, showcasing the founding breweries, their taprooms and the experiences they offer, including information on accessibility and how to get there.
Another aim of the EBA is to work together on getting a greater presence for local beer at the Summer and Winter festivals in Edinburgh.
Alistair says: “At present, local breweries are pretty much excluded from the festivals during December and August, despite the fact that many of them are award-winning and have a profile well beyond Scotland. We are hoping that by acting collectively, we will be able to influence the relevant stakeholders to introduce a ‘community benefit’ clause to any public tenders around the Edinburgh festivals.
“An informal discussion at a recent EBA meeting revealed that local breweries actually saw a downturn (rather than a spike) in sales during August, as the festival sucked in customers to the city centre, where they could only drink big brand beer at festival venues sponsored by big brand drinks companies.”
To be eligible to take part, breweries must brew less than 5,000 hectolitres per year, and sign up to a code of conduct to ensure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable at participating breweries and bars.
“Local breweries are a powerful force for good in Edinburgh,” continues Alistair. “We make high-quality products, often from locally sourced materials, and provide jobs for hundreds of local people, directly and indirectly. One of our main goals is to get across the message that, by buying locally produced beer and drinking beer in brewery taprooms, local residents they are helping to protect these jobs and, in time, helping the breweries to create even greater benefits.”
While it’s still early days, the alliance has big plans, including joint campaigns with other cities’ local brewing alliances, to promote craft beer throughout the country. By coming together in unity and clinking glasses with one another, Edinburgh breweries look to grow even stronger together and that means more tasty Scottish beer for all of us.
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