Independent Scottish breweries to buy from this Christmas
- Craig Angus
- 9 November 2020
Support local breweries across Scotland this holiday season, from Edinburgh to Orkney
Here's to the brewers. They're artists too, you know. Do you think the magic just happens? For every delicious pint sunk after a hard day's work, every stout that's warmed you through an unforgiving winter, every sour beer that's confused and yet amazed you, there's been a team hard at work, tweaking and perfecting their recipes for your pleasure. With pubs and restaurants shut at the end of a difficult year, independent Scottish breweries could do with some direct support from us this Christmas, so batten down the hatches and get some delicious drinks in the house to tide you over. Here are ten of our favourite makers.
A biggie in indie terms, Williams Brothers – based in the historical brewing stronghold of Alloa – are well known in Scotland's pubs and supermarkets for their draught lager, Joker IPA and Talking Head pale ale. The company's excellent Christmas beer, the spruce-infused Nollaig, is available through a limited run of 1L reusable growlers and 5L minikegs this year. Move quickly!
Kippen Railway Station, formerly a busy stop on the Forth and Clyde line, closed in 1934 but thanks to the vision of Paul and Karen Fallen it lives on today as one of Scotland's best microbreweries - a site full of history and character. Their beer has no shortage of the latter. Their first recipe, the American Blonde Odyssey – is still one of their best, while the Chew Chew – a delicious salted caramel milk stout – is also a decent pun on their heritage.
Black Isle Brewery
The Black Isle isn't an island, rather a peninsula just north of Inverness, and is mostly a picturesque land of golden farmland. No doubt this observation has been made and locals are fed up of hearing it. Instead, let's talk about their excellent brewery – a working organic farm where the barley and hops, and the herbs, fruit and vegetables all find their way into the booze.
Also based in the Black Isle, in the town of the same name, are Cromarty Brewing. Highlights from their range include Breakfast in Berlin – a delicious earl grey and orange beer that'll win over any sour beer skeptic, and the coffee-infused stout Brewed Awakening. Buy bottles, cans and the enticingly titled 'party kegs' from their online shop.
Thistly Cross Cider
Plot twist, we have a cider. Cards on the table we have to admit that some ill advised – but ultimately necessary – teenage misadventures may have put us off cider for a while, but we're wholeheartedly back on that train again, and East Lothian's Thistly Cross are amongst the very best in the business. Traditional apple, strawberry and elderflower flavours are available – as too is the intriguing whisky flavoured edition, made using Glen Moray casks.
Founded by passionate brewer Bowei Wang in Glasgow, back in the summer of 2018, Overtone have had an extremely impressive couple of years. Delights available from their range include Rasp-Berry Belter sour beer, and the aptly named Ooft! – a double New England IPA that packs a punch. You can also buy specific gift packs for lovers of stout or sour beers too.
Brewed by a small team in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh, Bellfield's aim is simple – to make excellent beers, all certified by Coeliac UK and registered with the vegan society, to enjoy with food or on their own. We love the bright, citrusy 'Session Ale and the deliciously chocolatey flavours of the Daft Days porter - and we're always game for a mini-keg if you'll give us the option. The List has teamed up with Bellfield to offer 12 Bellfield beers for £20 (RRP £29.40) delivered to your door for free.
Founded in 2019 by four beer lovers who had worked for the likes of The Kernel, Siren and Beavertown in London, Newbarns are based in Leith and have made an – unsurprisingly, given their pedigree – impressive start to life as an independent brewery. Look out for the Oat Lager Beer, and a perfectly judged pilsner. We love their branding too, a gnarly vibe pitched somewhere between friendly Bavarian beer festival and medieval.
A family-run farm brewery based in a 4500 acre estate in the stunning surroundings of rural Argyll, we can't help but feel quite jealous of everyone who works for Fyne Ales, an existence that sounds positively idyllic. No doubt a significant amount of graft goes into making favourites like the session blonde Jarl and the Deep Space Echo, a Bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout made in collaboration with Yorkshire's Magic Rock.
Founded by Robert Lindsay in 2013 after he fell in love with Belgium's beer culture and traditions, Six°North now runs five successful bars across Scotland, and has a fantastic selection of beers available from a well stocked online shop, brewed in beautiful Stonehaven. Choose your own unique selection, or pick from six mixed-cases – ideal if you want to focus on Belgian, easy drinkers or IPAs.
The most far flung of our selections, Swannay can be found in Orkney, on the northwestern tip of the archipelago's mainland. Proudly supplying Orkney with award-winning craft beer, they'll happily send their produce – modern takes on classic drinks – onto our very own, much larger, mainland. Scapa Flow, which references the historic 1919 internment of a German fleet, is a world class pale ale, while another of our favourites, the Orkney Blast, is a deceptively strong barleywine hybrid.