TENNENT’S lager-maker C&C Group yesterday unveiled a joint venture with Alloa-based craft brewer Williams Bros, marking its entry into Scotland’s thriving real ale market.
Plans have been filed with Glasgow City Council to launch the Drygate Brewing Company next to C&C’s sprawling Wellpark site. If councillors approve the plan, then the brewery, which would be built in a 1940s box factory, could open in the spring.
As well as a brewery, Drygate wants to open a visitors centre with a restaurant, along with a “centre of excellence” for students and home-brewers to develop recipes. Sixteen jobs are expected to be created at the site.
Scott Williams, co-owner of Williams Bros and managing director of Drygate, thinks the project could also help regenerate the wider Duke Street area.
He told The Scotsman: “I met Stephen Glancey, chief executive at C&C Group, about a year ago at a beer festival. He invited me along to Wellpark to talk about how we could work together.”
Williams said the project will cost about £1.6 million, with C&C and Williams Bros contributing equally. Drygate is also applying to the Scottish Government for a regional selective assistance grant to help finance the project.
Williams added: “C&C will be like a benevolent big brother. Big breweries in other countries tried to understand the craft beer market by creating their own businesses within it and it never really worked because people saw through it. I think that was one of the reasons why C&C thought they would work with someone who already has a good reputation in the craft beer market, so they can get to understand the market better and enjoy it better.”
He will use Drygate to brew some of William Bros’s existing beers – such as heather ale – as demonstrations, but he will also use the site to create other tipples. “We would welcome other brewers to use the brewery as well to experiment,” he added.
The maximum output from Drygate will be around 5,000 hecto-litres (hl) – where one hecto-litre is 100 litres – compared with 20,000hl for Williams Bros’s Alloa site and some 2.4 million hl for Wellpark.
“Scale-wise, it will be a little Meccano set brewery beside the main brewery,” Williams quipped.
Sales of craft beer have risen by more than 40 per cent in the Scottish off-trade during the past two years, Drygate said. There are now some 1,000 micro-breweries in the UK – the most since the Second World War – with more than 50 north of the Border.
In May, Dublin-based C&C – which bought Tennent’s from Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2009 for £180m – unveiled plans to make a “whisky beer”, which will be aged in Scotch barrels. But a C&C spokesman said that beer would not be made at Drygate.
While Drygate applies for planning consent, Petra Wetzel – the owner of the West brewery on Glasgow Green – is also pressing ahead with plans to turn the former Diageo cooperage at Port Dundas into a brewery.
News of the Drygate brewery plan comes a day after whisky industry veteran Tim Morrison revealed he has applied for consent to build Glasgow’s first distillery in 100 years.