Brewer pours hopes into premises on city’s former beer-making site

IT was once a brewing power-house, but not so much as a drop has been made there in almost a century.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 14th April 2012, 1:00 pm

Now an Edinburgh expert is hoping to bring brewing back to a historic Edinburgh site, which has a beer-making legacy stretching back to the early 1700s.

Andrew Barnett, who runs Barney’s Beers, has submitted an application to transform an old clinic and stables in the Summerhall complex – formerly the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School – into a new micro-brewery.

Before being taken over by the university, the land was home to the Summerhall Brewery, which was at the heart of Edinburgh’s then thriving brewing trade for 200 years, before it was demolished in 1913.

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If Andrew’s application is granted, it will mean that brewing will resume on the site and buck the recent trend of breweries moving out of the Capital.

He said: “I’ve been looking for a premises I could use as a brewery in Edinburgh for a while, and that site used to be one of the city’s main breweries. It’s really nice to have that heritage, even though it’s going to be on a much smaller scale.”

Andrew, who is now 45, moved to Edinburgh around 20 years ago to study brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University. He worked at the Fountainbridge Brewery and for Famous Grouse before he went into business on his own around 18 months ago.

Since then, Andrew has been making his signature Barney’s Beer from a small rented premises in Falkirk – and now he is ready to expand his business.

“I’m really pleased to have found a site so close to home,” he added. “I’ve been looking for over a year. The business has been going really well, but because of the size of the place in Falkirk I’ve only been able to brew part-time.”

He has mainly been supplying draught beers to pubs and is planning to produce more bottled beers from the new site, if his plans get the green light.

He also hopes to offer open days at the brewery, which would be at the back of the new Summerhall arts venue. Andrew is expected to find out by the end of May whether his application to change the use of the building to a new micro-brewery has been successful.

Architect Anne Johnstone, of Edinburgh-based Project Feasibility architects, drew up the plans for the listed building.

She said: “It’s been really good to be involved in a small way. I can’t say I’ve ever worked on a brewery before. It’s quite a quirky use. It’s quite a nice link that there used to be a brewery there.”

The micro-brewery will take up the lower floor of the existing two-storey building.

The last owners of a brewery on the land, Edinburgh United Breweries, sold the site in 1911 and it was demolished two years later.