Campervan beer company launches brewery in Edinburgh

Paul Gibson started out making small batches of beer in his garage, and converted a 1973 VW campervan to house a brew kit and dispense beer. Picture: Greg Macvean

Paul Gibson started out making small batches of beer in his garage, and converted a 1973 VW campervan to house a brew kit and dispense beer. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A craft beer business based around a modified campervan is set to officially open its own brewery in Edinburgh next month with an eye to exporting its products amid the boom in micro-brewing.

Paul Gibson, who launched Campervan Brewery in the summer of 2015, said the business was unable to keep up with demand.

He said the positive response “gave me the confidence that I could push on to the next level. It got to the point where I knew I needed to take control of things – I needed to just produce more beer, fast”.

The launch of the brewery, between Leith Walk and Bonnington Road at the new base for the firm, means Gibson is 18 months ahead of schedule on his business plan, having previously planned to continue using other breweries to accelerate production.

It will boost his production capability 20-fold, amid a drive to make and sell 150,000 litres over the next 12 months. Distributors have been brought on board to take his beers across Scotland and into the north of England. “We’re hoping to increase turnover drastically,” Gibson says.

Gibson started out making small batches of beer in his garage, and converted a 1973 VW campervan, known as “The Hoppy Camper”, enabling it to house a fully mobile brew kit and equipped to dispense beer.

He gave up his job in IT about a year ago “as demand kicked off”, and its products – which include a Blonde Voyage ale, a milk stout and a “champagne-style” beer – are now stocked in nine Oddbins stores across Scotland, plus pub/restaurants such as Foundry 39 and The Scran & Scallie in Edinburgh.

The first brew at the new facility took place on Thursday and it will produce the firm’s full range of beers as well as some new ones. The brewer is also applying for permission to open a tap room on-site, so people can sample its beers at source and see how they are made. However, Gibson still plans to get out and about in the van “and brew beer with our producers using their ingredients”.

Campervan Brewery has been working with Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway, and export is to be “a big push” over the coming year with interest from Scandinavia and Asia.

Gibson is also starting to take on staff – his first hire is joining full-time in about a month and he has plans to add another within six months.

A recent report from accountants UHY Hacker Young found that the number of breweries opening in the UK reached a record high of 520 last year. It said the 55 per cent year-on-year increase was accelerated by the demand for craft beer both in the UK and abroad, with many entrepreneurs starting their own business.

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