Our March #WhatTheFood event proved to be extremely popular with spaces selling out the afternoon they were released. And rightly so, this time the theme was ‘Craft Beer’ and we were hosted by local craft brewers Pilot Beer, who invited us into their premises just off Leith Walk as we tried to answer the question;
‘What’s the fuss about artisanal beer?
Pilot showed us how brewing works, told us a bit about the buoyant current craft beer scene in Scotland, how to tell a good beer from a bad beer, and gave us an honest account into how difficult it has been to set up a new brewery and break into the market.
Pilot was born when Matt Johnson and Patrick Jones met while studying for masters degrees in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in 2012, and it’s still just the two of them. A shared view that there was something different to be done in brewing – not traditional real ales, but not just another U.S. craft beer clone either – led to them home-brewing together, which eventually led to buying a second-hand brewhouse and moving to the heart of cosmopolitan Leith, commencing brewing right at the end of 2013.
They say not taking the easy road runs through everything they do; having dismantled the plant themselves, moving it to Leith and rebuilding it; digging out the drainage (pro-tip: pay real men to do that), installing the flues and building the cooling system. Quite a change from Patrick’s background in finance and Matt’s prior career as a graphic designer (which comes in handy for their distinctive bright branding of Pilot’s Beer.)
They gave us valuable insight about what it’s like to to set up a craft brewery from scratch in a busy market place, told us about the brewing process from hops to finished product and let us sample 6 of their distinctive unfined, and therefore naturally vegan beers; which include those brewed with cocoa nibs/coffee, orange peel and even parma violets! They even had their new pop up bar out on show which was ready for their visit to the Great Scottish Beer Celebration in Glasgow.
Matt and Patrick were brutally honest about the costs, peaks and troughs of running a small brewery, issues with supply and demand and the various pros and cons of options for expanding their business. We all went home with hops in our pocket, a decent amount of beer in our belly and a little more knowledge about brewing for a living. Thanks so much to Matt and Patrick for hosting us.
Keep asking #WhatTheFood?! And see you at the next event!