In The West Port basement, Paul Miller of the new Eden Brewery unveiled a range of their new ales to the University of St Andrews Real Ale Society. This public tasting was an opportunity for Mr Miller to try out his beers on an impartial audience as they were tasted blind alongside some more established brands.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, society members favourably comparing some of the Eden brews to old favourites produced by much more established companies. Both The Falcon and The Clock (two of Eden’s darker beers) went down particularly well, and judging by how they were ranked in comparison, breweries such as Brewdog and Harviestoun would do well to keep a watchful eye over their shoulders once Eden gets fully up and running. Mr Miller’s aims to ‘make great and innovative beer, improve people’s perception of beer as a craft product and create a brand the town can be proud of’ are laudable indeed and will soon see him garnering a lot of support.
The location for this new venture will be the old paper mill in Guardbridge subject to approval, just outside of St Andrews. This has been the location of a distillery in the past and Mr Miller is keen to utilise the original water source that once went into producing whisky at the site for his beers. Indeed, although in recent years Fife has been something of a dry spot for breweries, this has not always been the case. As recently as the Nineteenth Century there were two breweries in the town itself.
After many years of a relative brewing drought, the occupation now seems to be coming back to the region. This year, Bob Phaff set up the St Andrews Brewing Company in Glenrothes while other relatively recent arrivals on the scene are Luckie Ales (Auchtermuchty) and the Fyfe Brewing Company (Kirkcaldy).
Mr Phaff couldn’t believe there was no St Andrews brewery in existence when he first arrived in the town and immediately jumped on the opportunity to set right this flaw. He cites the ‘great potential market’ of St Andrews as one reason to set up shop here and also mentions the proximity of Heriot Watt and their internationally renowned brewing institute as another beneficial influence. Although his choice to set up at this point in time has been somewhat coincidental, he is glad to have ‘timed it around a hopeful boom’ in Fife brewing.
The other most recent contributor to this boom also mentions the St Andrews market as being key to his choice to set up here. Mr Miller believes that the demographics of the town provide a ready-made audience for good quality, locally produced ale. His choice to set up now is more a result of patience than any conscious effort to join in the real ale revolution (his idea for a brewery in the area had been brewing for a while) but he is as keen to champion and grow the real ale category as he is his own beers.
As for the future of brewing in Fife, Mr Phaff is very positive and ‘can imagine five or six more in the next ten years, no problem’. As far as Fife and St Andrews brewing goes, the future is bright; the future is a golden ale with some hoppy notes.