brewery owner John Henderson has added a pub to his growing portfolio of businesses.
His Scottish Borders Brewery, based at his 1,800-acre Chesters Estate, has bought the Cross Keys pub in nearby Ancrum.
Mr Henderson plans to turn the establishment into a mecca for real ale enthusiasts.
His “plough-to-pint” microbrewery was set up in January last year and has attracted a loyal following to its award-winning range of real ales.
It supplies more than 200 outlets across central Scotland and the North of England with its cask ales, all of which are created using the brewery’s own home-grown barley and spring water.
Earlier this year it scooped two top regional business awards at the Scottish Borders Business Excellence Awards.
The brewery produces real ales such as Game Bird, Foxy Blond, Dark Horse, Holy Cow and Wee Beastie.
These will now be on sale in the Cross Keys, which is the Scottish Borders Brewery’s first licensed premises and Mr Henderson says, with three Scottish pubs closing every week, he bought the premises to ensure its future as a village pub.
“Basically, it’s been just the locals that have been supporting this place for the last two years and it was down to being a ‘one light bulb over the bar’ sort of thing.
“The question was could you do something with it, and I think it definitely has real potential and, hopefully, this is a good news story for the local community in Ancrum and the surrounding area.
“The pub is a key feature of the village and I want to build the Cross Keys into a real community hub – a place you can go to enjoy good company and great beer,” he said.
“The real ale sector of the drinks market is continuing to prosper and pubs that offer high quality cask ales are growing in popularity as destinations.”
Mr Henderson has ambitious long-term plans for the premises including the introduction of food and accommodation.
“The Cross Keys is a historic, traditional country inn and I aim to retain all its existing character. Its central location means it is ideally situated as a base for visitors to the Borders, especially cyclists and walkers, so in the future I’d like to offer both food and rooms.
“At the moment, however, our focus will be on growing the Cross Keys’ reputation as a relaxed, friendly pub that serves an excellent pint where locals can expect to see familiar friendly faces behind the bar.”
In addition to the Scottish Borders Brewery’s own real ales, the Cross Keys will also feature guest ales from around the region.
Mr Henderson continued: “I am keen to support products from other local brewers as part of the offer at the Cross Keys. I really hope to build the pub into a showcase cask ale bar for the Scottish Borders.”