Aldi putting some fizz into Scottish brewing

Jayne-Anne Gadhia will be addressing MSPs and business leaders on Scotland's economic future. Picture: Neil Hanna
Jayne-Anne Gadhia will be addressing MSPs and business leaders on Scotland's economic future. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Beer festivals seem to be two-a-penny these days. However, discount retailer Aldi should be congratulated for its efforts to promote the best of Scottish brewing.

It has just kicked off its fifth in-store extravaganza as demand for something a bit more special than cooking lager continues to grow. The German-owned supermarket chain calculates that, over the past two years, its festivals have generated more than £500,000 for the nation’s micro brewing industry.

Clearly it is thinking pretty big for its latest winter event, which features 47 different beers from 47 new and existing breweries. Not surprisingly, industry leaders have given Aldi a big pat on the back.

Gerald Michaluk, trustee at the Scottish Society of Independent Brewers Association and outspoken boss of the Arran Brewery, says: “The society welcomes Aldi’s initiative and contribution to supporting local breweries. These festivals are good news for the breweries and beer lovers alike”. We will raise a glass to that.

Only here for goody bags

Sticking with beer – an ever-popular subject on the Business Desk – Murray Ainslie and the staff at Edinburgh’s trendy Sygn bar had a tricky task keeping away interlopers at a mid-week launch of a new range of ales. Or, rather, new to the UK.

Monteith’s will be a familiar name to Kiwis as the brand has been going in its native New Zealand for nearly 150 years. Scots drinkers were being introduced to a trio of beers on Wednesday night – a Bohemian Pilsner, an IPA and Southern Pale Ale.

The bottles are set to go on sale at a select few bars for “about £4” as the firm looks to ride the craft brewing wave.

The accompanying burgers were well matched, though we’re less certain about the popcorn on offer.

We also suspect that a certain few gate-crashers managed to get their hands on a goody bag or two as the table was cleared while our man paid a visit to the little boy’s room.

MSPs to get money’s worth

Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia was last week forced to delay the challenger bank’s flotation amid continued turbulence in the markets, which may give her more time to prepare for her appearance next month at the Scottish Parliament

Gadhia, who is also chair of Scottish Business in the Community, will be addressing MSPs and business leaders at this year’s Business in the Parliament conference, which has taken “shaping Scotland’s economic future” as its theme.

“The Scottish referendum showed that politics matter – to people, society and to business,” says Gadhia, who last month wrote to The Scotsman to explain she wanted the country to “have the best of both worlds” and remain part of the UK.

She adds: “I am proud to live in a country which could have so full and so loud a debate about its future, and believe we now have the opportunity to build an even stronger Scotland. I am looking forward to being part of the debate.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney says the two-day Business in Parliament event, which kicks off on 6 November, “is a great opportunity for business people, academics and politicians to come together to discuss how best we can improve economic conditions and enhance economic growth”.

Cover choice a revelation

Part-time rock musician and former monetary policy committee member Andrew Sentance took to Twitter the other day to rail against a BBC poll in search of the nation’s favourite cover version.

The senior economic adviser to accounting giant PwC, who sings and plays bass in a band called Revelation, reckoned Aunty had made a “big omission” by leaving Harry Nilsson’s version of Badfinger’s Without You off its list.

The BBC’s “50 greatest cover versions” include the likes of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, David Bowie’s China Girl and Johnny Cash’s Hurt.

But one member of the Business Desk was most puzzled by an even bigger omission, and surely one of the best cover versions of all time – Dinosaur Jr with their interpretation of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven.