Borders brewery Tempest’s beers go down a storm at Scottish awards event

Gavin Meiklejohn, left, and wife Annika, right, celebrate with staff at Tempest Brewing Co in Tweedbank after being named Scotland's brewery of the year.
Gavin Meiklejohn, left, and wife Annika, right, celebrate with staff at Tempest Brewing Co in Tweedbank after being named Scotland's brewery of the year.
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Tweedbank’s Tempest Brewing Co went down a storm at this year’s British Institute of Innkeeping Awards for Scotland, being named as the country’s brewery of the year.

That accolade, handed out at a ceremony at Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sunday, comes less than a year and a half after the brewery moved from Kelso into its new home on the Tweedbank Industrial Estate.

Annika Meiklejohn with two new beers being produced by Tempest Brewing Co.

Annika Meiklejohn with two new beers being produced by Tempest Brewing Co.

“We’re thrilled, obviously,” said company director Annika Meiklejohn.

“It’s good recognition for the beer we’re making and the journey we’ve had over the past year or so to increase production.

“In that time, we’ve gone from having three full-time employees, including me and my husband Gavin, to 10, and we’ll be looking to take on two more in the next month or so.

“Growth at our old plant had stagnated, but we’ve now gone from brewing 2,500 litres a year to what we hope will be 5,000 or 6,000 litres a year.”

It’s only six years since Annika, 38, a New Zealander, and Gavin, 39, originally from Fife, founded their brewery, initially as an offshoot of the pub they were running in Kelso at the time, the Cobbles.

The pair met while working together at a brewpub in Whistler in British Columbia in Canada in the late 1990s.

The popularity of beers such as Brave New World, a strong India pale ale, and Long White Cloud, another pale ale, soon led to the brewery outgrowing its modest origins, however, and ultimately forced them to make the move to Tweedbank.

Though now leased out to Luca and Olivia Becattelli, the Cobbles, in Bowmont Street, remains the brewery’s tap and stocks its ever-changing range of beers.

They can also be bought in bottled form at the Beer Craft off-licence in Kelso, Villeneuve Wines in Peebles and the brewery’s shop.

Tempest has added to new products to its range this month, and they could scarcely be more different.

They are Totally Radler and Mexicake.

The Radler is a low-strength mix of beer and fruit juice brewed for the ongoing Tweedlove cycling festival in the Tweed Valley.

At two per cent alcohol by volume (ABV), it’s designed to be refreshing and light enough not to impair cyclists’ ability to get back on their bikes afterwards.

“Radler is a German idea, usually made up of beer and lemonade, created for cyclists, and it has a low ABV so it can be enjoyed when cycling,” said Annika.

“I think it was Gavin’s idea to get in touch with the Tweedlove people to see if they wanted a drink for the event.”

At 11 per cent ABV, Mexicake, a dessert stout, is almost five times stronger than the radler and would be an unwise choice for anyone contemplating getting back on the saddle or behind the wheel of a car.

It’s flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, and chillies.

“This is a concept beer,” explained Annika.

“Gavin was trying to create a Mexican cake in beer form, so it has all these spices in it, and vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa, and there are chillies in there too, but it’s not too hot.

“That’s the thing about beer – it can have all sorts of things in it. It doesn’t have to be just water, barley-malt and hops. It’s a dark stout, a dessert stout really.”