Little wonder is making big impression on beer buffs in Borders

Small is beautiful for a pint-sized Borders business breathing new life into a hitherto-vacant town centre shop unit.

Friday, 23rd September 2016, 1:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:03 pm

Rutherfords, believed to be Scotland’s only micropub, is a new entry in this year’s Good Beer Guide, published by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) and edited by Roger Protz.

It might be occupying a former knitwear shop, but there was nothing woolly about Simon Rutherford’s thinking when he opened it in in the Square in Kelso in July last year as it has since gone on to build up a regular clientele of about 300, gathering accolades aplenty along the way.

“Has being in the guide made a difference to us? Absolutely,” said Simon, of Chirnside in Berwickshire, also a sometime graphic designer, photographer and property developer.

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“We’ve already had people coming down from Glasgow by public transport to visit us just because they’ve seen our entry in the guide.

“It’s widened our appeal and got us noticed further afield.”

The Newcastle-born 49-year-old can have up to eight barrels of beer on the go at any one time, all gravity-fed rather than dispensed via handpump, but usually settles for four, sourced from breweries including Born in the Borders at Lanton Mill, near Jedburgh.

Rutherfords is able to accommodate 35 punters inside and a further 20 or so outside, weather permitting.

Kelso is one of only three Borders towns to boast multiple entries in the guide, the other pub there featured being the Cobbles, in nearby Bowmont Street.

Run by Luca Becatelli for the last two years, it acts as a tap for the Tempest Brewery at Tweedbank and offers two of its beers on handpump and a further five or so on craft keg, as well as its entire range in bottles.

“It’s important for us to be in the guide. It’s good to get recognised,” said Luca, 46.

Hawick is another town with two entries – the Bourtree, part of the JD Wetherspoon chain, in Bourtree Place, and the Exchange Bar, also known as Dalton’s, in Silver Street.

The Bourtree has been managed by Kristofor Mooney, 33, for the last two years, and he said: “I am delighted that the Bourtree has been recognised for the quality of its real ales by Camra members.

“We offer our customers an excellent range of real ales at all times on five handpulls, including some from regional brewers and microbrewers.

“About 90 % of our beers are from Scotland, and demand for real ales is growing. It’s up about 20% year on year here. It’s a proper thing just now.”

The Bourtree was opened in the town’s old 1897-built Conservative club in 2012, just under a decade after Jim and Eileen Paris took over the Exchange Bar in 2003.

“We usually have just the one beer on, but we’ll put a second one on at busy times like the common riding,” said Jim, 61.

“Born in the Borders is one of the breweries we use most.”

Peebles is the only town to outdo Kelso and Hawick, having three entries – the Bridge Inn, in Portbrae; the Cross Keys, in Northgate; and the Crown Hotel, in High Street.

The rest of the Borders’ 18 entries are the Cross Keys at Ancrum, the Black Bull Hotel in Duns, Earlston’s Red Lion, the Ladhope Inn in Galashiels, St Ronan’s Hotel at Innerleithen, the Canon at Jedburgh, the Border at Kirk Yetholm, Leitholm’s Plough Inn, Melrose’s George and Abbotsford Hotel, Town Yetholm’s Plough Hotel and the Buccleuch Arms at St Boswell’s.

This year’s guide, the 44th, is out now, priced £15.99.

Besides Tempest and Born in the Borders, the other brewers in the region listed are Ale House Rock and Freewheelin’, both in Peebles; Broughton Brewery and Old Worthy, both at Broughton; and Traquair House, near Innerleithen.