REAL ale maker Arran Brewery has bought the Drummond Hotel on the banks of Loch Earn and unveiled plans to turn it into a lager brewery.
Managing director Gerald Michaluk told The Scotsman that he will re-open the hotel with a bistro serving dishes created with Arran ales and a sushi bar to promote the firm’s saki.
Victorian boatsheds behind the hotel at St Fillans will be converted to house the brewery, while a visitors centre will also be located at the facility.
At least 20 jobs are expected to be created at the site, which aims to attract around 30,000 visitors in its first year.
Michaluk said: “We’re working with the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority to develop our plans for the site, because we recognise it’s in a very special area.
“We’re looking at horizontal tanks instead of vertical tanks to minimise the visual impact.
“We want to create a medium-sized micro-brewery that people can come and see and enjoy rather than just two brewing vessels in a corner.”
The equipment that Michaluk plans to install at Loch Earn was originally destined for his development at the former Rosebank distillery in Falkirk which has been hit by delays.
“We’ve been tied up in the planning process and we’re now waiting to see which impact studies the council wants us to commission,” he said. “Meantime, we needed another brewery so we could produce lagers.”
As well as brewing a range of Loch Earn beers, the site will also be used to bottle lager for Hofbräuhaus, the Munich-based brewer with which Arran signed a distribution deal last year.
Michaluk wants to install equipment with a capacity of between 30 and 50 barrels at Loch Earn, compared with his existing 30-barrel plant on Arran. Refurbishment work at the 30-bedroom Drummond Hotel – which was being marketed by surveyor DM Hall for “offers in the region of £250,000” – is due to begin next month and Michaluk has appointed Jeremy Osborne, a former personnel manager at the Gleneagles Hotel, to run the property. Financing for the project will come from Bank of Scotland. Michaluk said the amount borrowed from the bank will depend on how much cash his company raises through its crowd-funding scheme, which will be launched next month.
Arran can raise up to £4m through the crowd-funding scheme, a technique already used by Ellon-based beer maker BrewDog to fund its expansion.
Bank of Scotland said that it has put together a 12-strong team in partnership with marketing agency VisitScotland to support tourism businesses.
News of Arran Brewery’s expansion into Loch Earn comes amid a busy time for Scotland’s micro-brewing industry.
Earlier this week, Alloa-based Williams Bros unveiled plans to launch a joint venture with Tennent’s lager maker C&C Group to build a micro-brewery at Drygate in Glasgow.
Britain now has more than 1,000 breweries – the highest number since the Second World War – including about 50 north of the Border.