Saturday, 8 October 2011

Scottish breweries in 2011

Maps. They're so fun to make. That's why Ive been going Scottish brewery map crazy. Because I can and it's fun.

My copy of the Good Beer Guide 2011 came yesterday. It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. Just extract the Scottish breweries and hey presto, I can bring Scottish brewery maps right up to date.

It's not just idle vanity compiling this map. There's a purpose, too. Showing how much the geography of Scottish brewing has changed. Now, bearing in mind the earlier maps, take a look and see if you can spot what has changed:

View Scottish breweries in 2011 in a larger map

Quite a change, isn't it? While there's still some clustering around the population centres of central Scotland, the breweries are spread much more evenly across the country. In particular, the white spots in the Highlands and Islands have largely disappeared. It's very significant. Areas where there had never been commercial brewing are now populated with microbreweries.

What does it tell us about beer in modern Scotland that the major cities of Aberdeen and Dundee have no breweries, but the Orkney Islands and Isle of Skye both have two? In the 19th century, brewing clustured close to centres of industry and population. The reverse now seems true.

Glasgow is the only town with more than one brewery. But poor old Edinburgh. Once of international importance, now down to just a single brewery. How sad. All the great names are gone. In fact, only one large brewery remains: Tennent in Glasgow. I wonder what the second largest is?


Barm said...

It is really weird in Scotland that the market for microbreweries is in the cities, but the breweries themselves are seemingly wilfully as far away from the cities as possible. A lot of the new breweries are the result of farms diversifying – Fyne Ales, Black Isle and others. Rural locations also have advantages of availability of cheap space and lower business rates. In addition, I don't know about Edinburgh but Glasgow City Council is extremely hostile to pubs and brewing and has been for ages.

You seem to have missed out WEST in Glasgow from the map. Is it not in the Guide? I know they don't brew real ale but they've been listed before.

Barm said...

Oh, forgot to guess at the second biggest brewery. Probably Belhaven or Caledonian. Looking at the building you wouldn't think the Caley would have the capacity to pump out the amount of Deuchars IPA it does, but the stuff is everywhere. Belhaven sell oceans of smoothflow "Best".

Otherwise, Harviestoun might be in the running. It's indicative of the massive destruction of Scottish brewing that Harviestoun, founded in the late 1970s, is also the fifth oldest brewery in Scotland after Tennent, Belhaven, Caledonian and Traquair House.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, I'm glad I created these maps because they make it really obvious how the industry has moved.

I was hoping you'd point out any omissions. Yes, West is in the Good Beer Guide brewery section. But that wasn't where I found the breweries. I looked in the pubs section. Easier that looking through all those 700-odd breweries. And West wasn't mentioned there.

Velky Al said...

You forgot the Colonsay Brewery: