WHAT WE DO
We aren’t led by profits or investors or even the public (sorry). We make the beer we like, and rely on to the idea that someone else might like it too.
We don’t brew the same beer twice, unless we really, really like it. As such, our Glasgow Porter is our only regular. Otherwise, we brew what takes our fancy, with what ingredients we can get, or are particularly in season. Our IPAs - forever changing, based on what hops take our fancy - have become particularly respected.
It took years. Too busy studying or slogging through shift work, the idea of owning a brewery always took a back seat. We never stopped planning, though. And we never stopped brewing. Our homemade equipment and plastic buckets never grew (too) dusty.
Owen is a technical brewer. He has brewed more and for longer than the rest, and was instrumental in inspiring James and Richard in turn. Within a few all-grain brews, James (with Owen's guidance) brewed his first commercial beer, with Dark Star Brewing following his runner up place in the UK National Homebrewing Awards. James then won the national Institute of Brewing and Distilling competition, with what was to become Stewart Brewing's Skeleton Blues. Meanwhile, Richard learned. With minimal aid, he brewed all of the beer served at his own wedding and to great acclaim. He even threw one of them into the above IBD competition, where it still picked up a medal.
All it took to kickstart the first steps towards an enterprise was one week of annual leave. James scoured the area for the cheapest premises available, and he found our home in Cumbernauld. We applied to HMRC and, before we were ready, we were officially a brewery. We had bills to pay and duty returns to complete, and so beer had to flow.
We are unlike any brewery you'll ever have heard of. We have crafted it from pieces of equipment we've scrounged, swapped for and borrowed. Our vessels were created from old jam storage tanks. We wrapped them in coils of copper pipe and insulated with camping mats. They're cooled using a couple of old pub beer chillers. Our boiler and hot liquor tank are made from Italian olive oil pots, in which we drilled some big holes for some heavy duty electric elements.
We’ve slowly upgraded bits of it, piece by piece. Our home pumps and flimsy tube designed for dairies was the first to go - now our hose is the most expensive thing in the brewery. We’ve still got our extractor that we ripped out of an Italian restaurant, and it still channels our steam is channelled through tumble dryer tubing. We like it like that.
You may question our sanity, but building everything ourselves has a few advantages. We could not afford to do it any other way - we had no outside investment. And no debt. And because we’d done it all before as homebrewers, we knew what worked: you could not have designed a better mashing system than ours, which is cobbled together from another jam tank, a homebrew pot and some perforated stainless steel discs. Our unique (and enormous) stainless steel mesh basket acts as a proportionally huge hop filter, giving unprecedented hop contact, flavour and aroma.
It may be rough, and it may take a little longer than most, but it can produce half a ton of damn fine beer.