Tennent’s Lager is favourite drink in MSPs’ bar

Kenny MacAskill behind the old bar at Holyrood, where Scottish drinks are popular. Picture: Robert Perry
Kenny MacAskill behind the old bar at Holyrood, where Scottish drinks are popular. Picture: Robert Perry
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A Scottish lager has topped a league table of politicians’ top ten tipples at the parliament bar as the independence referendum looms.

Tennent’s Lager has replaced posh Italian bottled beer Peroni as the favourite order at the Scottish Parliament’s watering hole.

And Stewart beers, made in Midlothian, have overtaken Argento Malbec – a full-bodied Argentinian red wine – in the popularity stakes.

Details of alcohol sales at the parliament over the past five years, released under Freedom of Information, also revealed a big increase in consumption of the most popular brands.

Campaigners warned MSPs should lead by example on responsible drinking, while others seized on the fact the national drink, whisky, barely registers in the booze table.

The figures show that in 2008-9 the three favourite drinks at Holyrood were Peroni, Tennent’s Lager and Argento Malbec, but by 2012-13 the top slots had been taken over by a pint of Tennent’s, a pint of Stewart’s Hollyrood – spelled with two Ls to mimic the famous Hollywood sign –and Stewart’s 330ml.

The change in tastes saw Peroni, which topped the table with 1130 sales in 2008-9, fall steadily to fourth place in 2012-13 when 800 bottles were sold. Sales of Tennent’s Lager, by contrast, more than doubled from 767 pints in 2008-9 to 1867 in 2012-13, taking it from second place to top slot.

Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi said: “It shows our nation is not just good at drinking alcohol, it’s also good at brewing it. The bar also has a great selection of Scottish whiskies, though they may not show on the top-ten list because they are regarded as a treat.”

But Mr Biagi did not think the surge in popularity of Scottish drinks was down to the influx of SNP politicians eager to promote all things Caledonian, revealing: “I suspect the best users of the bar are the journalists in the parliament.”

Paul Condron, marketing director at Tennent Caledonian, said: “We’re delighted to hear that Scotland’s number one pint is also loved in Holyrood. And they are showing great taste by opting for a home-grown favourite, made using 100 per cent Scottish barley and fresh water from Loch Katrine.”

Nicole Lowes, sales co-ordinator at Stewart Brewing – founded as an independent micro-brewery in 2004 and now based in Loanhead – said there did seem to be a growing enthusiasm for Scottishness.

But Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, warned: “Concerns have been expressed about the unhealthy drinking culture at Westminster, with a recent survey finding 26 per cent of MPs think their colleagues drink too much. We don’t have similar research for Holyrood, but all politicians should lead by example and ensure that excessive drinking is not normalised or tolerated at parliament.”

However, a parliament spokeswoman insisted that even the top selling drink saw only “modest” sales of around 36 pints a week.