Borders marquee firm boss now making his mark rolling out the barrels

Isaac Knowles-Gruft and Murray Campbell, boss of Campbell's Brewery at Peebles.
Isaac Knowles-Gruft and Murray Campbell, boss of Campbell's Brewery at Peebles.
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Bottling it is, more often than not, another way of saying throwing in the towel – but not for Campbell’s Brewery, unless it’s a beer towel.

The fledgling Borders business has just started selling its Gunner Blonde Ale in bottles as well as barrels, and that move is paying off as it’s going great guns, having taken more than 2,000 pre-orders last month.

Gunner Blonde Ale, brewed in Peebles.

Gunner Blonde Ale, brewed in Peebles.

The 4.3% alcohol-by-volume beer – brewed in Peebles using local malts and admiral, celeia, sovereign and goldings hops –has also been served by more than 100 pubs since its launch a matter of months ago.

Campbell’s eight-barrel brewhouse was set up in February last year by marquee hire business boss Murray Campbell and is now producing an average of 52 72-pint barrels of beer a week.

The 38-year-old, in charge of Green Field Marquees, also based in Peebles, since 2004, said: “When it comes to beer, and I like my beer, I don’t like fuss.

“I started a brewery to create a series of cask and bottle-conditioned ales that stand out for their quality ingredients and quality production.

“No jiggery-pokery, no complex or madcap inventions – just simple, well- made, great-tasting beer, which I leave in the expert hands of my head brewer Isaac Knowles-Gruft.”

Murray, married with two children, had no previous brewing experience, but Canadian-born Knowles-Gruft, 22, more than compensates for that, having previously been an assistant brewer at Black Isle Brewery, near Munlochy, north of Inverness.

Gunner Blonde Ale, available in 330ml bottles as wellas on draught, is one of two beers the pair produce, the other being the darker and hoppier 3.7% alcohol-by-volume Flintlock.

Campbell’s sources as many of its base ingredients as it can within Scotland, and all the barley malt and wheat used in making Gunner is grown in East Lothian, just a 40-minute drive away.

Flintlock is brewed using crystal and Vienna malts and admiral, cascade, sovereign and chinook hops from Britain, Slovenia and the US.

Gunner stockists include Edinburgh’s Beer and Skittles Bar, Malt Shovel Inn, Milnes Bar, Cafe Royal and Beehive Inn.

Prior to setting up Green Field Marquees with business partner Miles Craig, Murray, a keen mountaineer, worked for a flat-letting business in Edinburgh.

Campbell’s is one of two breweries in Peebles, the other being Freewheelin’, and seven in the Borders, the rest, as listed in this year’s Campaign for Real Ale Good Beer Guide, being Tempest at Tweedbank, Born in the Borders at Lanton Mill, Traquair House at Innerleithen, Broughton and Old Worthy, also at Broughton.