Thirst for craft beer boosts number of Scottish breweries

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The number of breweries in Scotland has increased by almost 230% since 2010, thanks in part to drinkers’ growing taste for craft beers.

In 1970 there were 11 breweries in Scotland, but a new report from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) said that number has “increased massively”.

There are now 115 breweries across the country – of which more than four-fifths are micro-breweries.

The Spice report said: “Globally, beer consumption has been falling for decades. However, this has not dampened the significant brewery start-up rate, responding to consumers choosing to drink more expensive, specialised beers.

“Scotland’s craft breweries have flourished over recent years with a plethora of new breweries entering the market.

“Year-on-year over the period 2010 to 2018, the number of breweries has increased. This rapid period of expansion has resulted in the beer manufacturing business base increasing by 229% over the eight-year period.”

While just four local authority areas contained breweries in 2010, now half – 16 of the 32 separate regions – are home to at least one brewing business.

“Both urban and rural areas have benefited from the explosive growth of the sector,” the report found.

“Edinburgh and Highland local authority areas have the highest intensity of brewing activity in Scotland.”

Beers from Scottish brewery BrewDog (BrewDog/PA)

It added: “Whilst Scotland’s brewing sector has increased by 229% since 2010, the majority of this growth has been in micro-breweries. Micro-breweries represent 83% of Scotland’s brewing business base.”

Breweries had an average turnover of £271,310 in 2018 – lower than the average business turnover of £673,000.

But 10% of breweries had sales levels worth over £1 million, while just over half (52%) had turnover levels that were below £100,000.

The research also found Scotland has 128 malt and grain distilleries, giving the country the largest concentration of whisky producers in the world.

In addition there are more than 60 distilleries producing gin in Scotland, with more than 110 varieties of Scottish gin available.

Overall, the spirits industry makes up 3% of Scottish GDP, with nine out of 10 distilling jobs in the UK being located north of the border.

Average turnover across all Scottish distilleries was approximately £5.3 million each in 2018, according to the report.

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