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Scottish brewer warns of challenges despite pubs reopening

David McGowan Image copyright David McGowan
Image caption David McGowan, of Broughton Brewery, said only half of pubs were now selling his beers

Small independent breweries are still facing major challenges despite most pubs in Scotland having reopened, a business owner has warned.

David McGowan, of Broughton Brewery in the Borders, said half as many pubs were now selling his beers as they could not afford to stock the range they had previously.

He said it was having a knock-on effect to microbreweries across Scotland.

His warning came as pubs were closed in Aberdeen due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr McGowan, who lives in Edinburgh, said half of the 250 pubs on his books were now not ordering from him.

He said: “Because of social distancing measures, pubs are not getting the same number of customers into their premises and they also have restricted opening hours.

“This has meant pubs have had to stock a restricted range of beers to minimise costs. So a pub that normally stocks seven or eight beers is now only stocking three or four.”

Image copyright David McGowan
Image caption Head brewer Ian Smith has been at Broughton Brewery for more than 35 years

As a major employer in Broughton, Mr McGowan said he felt a huge pressure to keep the brewery from going under.

He said: “I am anxious for the business and for the workers who have dedicated their lives to the business.

“Our head brewer, Ian Smith, has been with us for more than 35 years and has specialist skills that mean we can produce our hand-crafted beers.

“There is also a knock-on effect from all of this as we use traditional ingredients that are locally sourced so we need to make sure we stay in business for all our suppliers too.”

Image copyright Broughton Brewery
Image caption Broughton Brewery is the biggest employer in the town

Mr McGowan said there had been a revival in recent years in Scotland of microbreweries, a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels (two million litres) a year and with a focus on quality, flavour and brewing technique.

The Broughton Brewery has dropped in production from 600,000 litres a year to 400,000 litres due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “One hundred years ago there were 150 breweries in Scotland and then in the 90s it dropped to 10.

“However, now it is back up to 150 breweries again, which is great as we need to keep this tradition going.

“We need to support these businesses and I would like to encourage people in pubs to look at the choice of products available from local suppliers and to chose that option.

“People think the challenges are over for the hospitality sector now that the pubs have reopened but they are not.

“It is very difficult for the breweries just now.”

Image copyright David McGowan
Image caption Broughton Brewery was founded in 1979

Mr McGowan said he had been forced to drop brewing down to just three days a week due to the fall in demand.

He said: “We normally have two vans out taking beer to pubs but at the moment we are down to just one van because the demand has dropped.”

The brewery produces Old Jock ales and Hopo lagers, IPAs, zero alcohol and gluten-free beers.

Image copyright David McGowan
Image caption Broughton Brewery was established more than 40 years ago

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