Fall and rise of Usher as classic beer name revived

The Pear Tree pub was once home of the Usher family. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Pear Tree pub was once home of the Usher family. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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USHERS, one of Scotland’s most historic beer brands, will be resurrected this week with help from one of the remaining members of the illustrious family.

Stuart Usher, who is descended from a branch of the family that pioneered the blending of Scotch whisky in the 1860s, has helped to research the history of his brewing relatives.

Mr Usher has been advising Caledonian Heritable, the pub company that owns outlets in Edinburgh including Bannerman’s, Ryan’s Bar and The Dome.

Caledonian Heritable has teamed up with Inveralmond Brewery to open Ushers of Edinburgh, a brew-pub in the basement of Pear Tree House, an 18th century mansion that was once home to the Usher family.

Andrew Usher Sr, who was already a successful spirits merchant, set up his two eldest sons, James and Thomas, as brewers.

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They bought the Cowgate Brewery in 1831 and opened their famous Park Brewery at St Leonard’s in 1860.

Andrew Usher Sr’s youngest sons, Andrew Usher Jr and Sir John Usher, followed their father into the whisky business, with Andrew Usher Jr perfecting the blending technique – later giving £100,000 in 1892 to build a concert venue in Edinburgh, with the Usher Hall finally opening in 1914..

Mr Usher, who last year launched walking tours around Edinburgh, said: “The brewery was started by James and then Thomas was brought into the firm. He was the brains behind it and was very successful.”

Starting this week, a core range of about five beers will be produced in the new pub, along with seasonal ales and other special editions, using equipment supplied by James Sampson at Borders-based Scotia Welding & Fabrication.

Paul Hastie, area manager at Caledonian Heritable, said: “Ushers is a key part of Edinburgh’s brewing heritage and so we’re very excited to be reviving the brand.”

Fergus Clark, managing director of Inveralmond Brewery, added: “Having the brewing equipment visible in the pub rather than hidden away will really add to the atmosphere. Eventually, we’d like to give visitors the chance to brew their own beers and try out different recipes.”

Allan McLean, vice-chairman of the Scottish Brewing Archive Association, welcomed news of the revival of Ushers.

He said: “Ushers’ reputation was spoiled in the 1960s when keg beer was coming in.

“It would be good to see the Ushers name revived. Getting their name back on some respectable beers would be a positive move.”#

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