SCOTLAND’S only plough-to-pint real ale was pulled for the first time at its Borders brewery last week and sampled by local licensees, writes Mark Entwistle.
They had gathered at the new Scottish Borders Brewery near Ancrum to sample the inaugural brew, christened Game Bird, produced by the fledgling brewing business run by John Henderson at his home, Chesters Estate.
Work on the brewery, housed in a converted farm building, was completed last month and John produced his debut beer two weeks ago.
By using home-grown malting barley from his farm and artesian spring water, John has created the only plough-to-pint real ale being produced in 21st-century Scotland.
He told TheSouthern he had invited licensees from across the Borders to join a steering group for the brewery to help guide its future and ensure the products produced are what real ale drinkers want.
“The response to our first beer was fantastic. The licensees provided really positive feedback on its taste and gave valuable input on our future plans,” he added.
Licensees from 14 premises across the region attended the tasting, held in the new brewery building.
John continued: “We are now open to take orders and our first ale is on sale in select local establishments including the Fox and Hounds in Denholm and the Horse and Hound in Bonchester Bridge.
“We have brewed a second beer and plan to have an official launch for both ales in mid-March.”
John, whose background is in advertising, re-trained at Brewlab, at the University of Sunderland, and has been working with a brewing consultant to develop his new products. He has recruited two employees for the Scottish Borders Brewery – an assistant brewer and a sales administrator.
John continued: “This is a very exciting time as we see our plans coming to fruition. I believe the Scottish Borders Brewery is in a great position to offer something new to the real ale market while playing a valuable role in the continuing sustainability of the farm.
“It goes back to the roots of micro-brewing in Scotland when farms produced their own estate ales. By using our own barley, our own water and feeding the spent brewing grains back to our own cattle, we are making the most of all our available resources and in the process creating some great beers.”
Game Bird is a light four per cent amber ale brewed with Styrian goldings hops for an easy-drinking style.
Stewart Mabon, owner of the Fox and Hound in Denholm, said: ”We have just put the first beer from the Scottish Borders Brewery on tap.
“John has done an amazing job in getting this project off the ground and created a great new beer that our customers are all ordering. It’s already a best seller.”