Biscuit-flavoured pints face crunch test at new craft beer festival

It has a biscuit-making heritage going back more than two centuries - when William Crawford started a baking business in a small shop in Leith which grew to become a household name throughout Britain.

Greg Wells and Daniel Sylvester are launching the new Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival this weekend.
Greg Wells and Daniel Sylvester are launching the new Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival this weekend.

Now Jammie Dodger, Bourbon Cream and shortbread flavoured pints are about to go on sale when Scotland’s first global craft beer gathering takes over a former biscuit factory in Leith this weekend.

They are being made specially for the event by the Bristol-based brewers Wiper and True, who already make a “milk shake beer."

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Around 30 international brewers are flying in from around the world to take part in the inaugural Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival this week.

Due to feature up to 200 craft beers, it is being staged over three days at the former Crawford’s factory, at Anderson Place in Leith, which is now known as the Biscuit Factory and operates as a year-round space for festivals and events.

Built in 1947 for the firm, which was set up in Leith in 1813, it lay empty for more than eight years before being turned into a new hub for the cultural sector and creative industries.

Around 100 litres of each of the one-off beers have been brewed by the firm, which already uses the likes of pine needles, toasted coriander seed, zest of oranges and lemons, vanilla and chocolate in its products.

The biscuit-flavoured beers are being created to honour the heritage of Crawford’s, which employed more than 700 people by the 1950s before merging with two other firms to form United Biscuits.

The Shortbread Pale Ale will have a butter flavour, Jammie Dodger Amber Ale will feature both strawberry jam and strawberry vodka, while the Bourbon Cream Biscuit Stout will include cacao nibs and malt extract to create the chocolate and butter icing flavours.

A spokesman for Wiper and True said: “The recent addition of two 100-litre fermentation vessels in the brewery has meant we’ve been able to begin a series of experimental brews which test potential recipes and concepts for beer before we go big and brew them to full scale. It also allows us to make beers for one-off events.

“Which biscuits should be our guiding light and become the concept for the development of the beers was an impossible decision, so we decided to leave it down to chance.

“Each of our brewers chose from a hat which biscuit they were to design a recipe for and brew.”

The Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, which is running from Friday-Sunday, is being launched by Greg Wells and Daniel Sylvester, two young beer aficionados who have run similar events in London and Bristol.

Mr Wells said: “A lot of people are now coming into craft beer from backgrounds like cheffing and pulling in influences from molecular gastronomy and fusion food. There is a new type of beer that is about pushing your tastebuds and pushing the flavour. You would maybe only have a third of a pint rather a six pack to put in the fridge.

“It’s about exploring and trying different things. The new beer drinker is very much up for that in the same way that a lot of people are now really into trying out different types of street food. People are looking to be stimulated in a different way.

“From the brewer’s point of view, it is about the craft and the skill of pushing the boundaries of the production process. If they really push the boundaries they could come up with a technique or flavour that becomes a really big commercial success.”