Leith craft brewer eyes massive expansion as its Guinness alternative proves huge hit

Leith-based Campervan Brewery is looking to quadruple output thanks in part to huge demand for a beer touted as a Scottish alternative to Guinness.

Released in January, Extra Black is fast becoming the venture’s biggest selling beer. Plans are now being finalised to replace the firm’s existing brew kit to increase production capabilities. This would quadruple beer production to keep up with demand across the UK and overseas.

Campervan Brewery was founded by Paul Gibson in 2015, as he was travelling around festivals in his 1973 classic VW campervan, producing beers from a portable brew kit. The current brewery was opened in Leith in 2017. A community taproom followed shortly after, with an industrial feel and a variety of seating both indoors and out.

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Extra Black is a Scottish porter - milk chocolate and cold press coffee flavours said to work in harmony with a smooth bitterness. It is unfiltered, gluten free and suitable for vegans. With a prevalence of around 1 per cent in the UK, coeliac disease impacts on beer drinking options for tens of thousands of adults in the UK.

Gibson said: “What started out as a bit of fun research into nitro beers, has turned into our biggest seller this year. We listened to feedback from beer lovers who couldn’t drink Guinness, as it contained gluten. So, we invented our own unique version and made it gluten free. Feedback has been amazing.”

He added: “It’s an incredibly exciting time in the brewery just now. We bounced out of lockdown and our feet have barely touched the ground since. We have almost reached our production capacity, so it's time to expand. We are striving to make beer much more efficiently and are working on a number of projects to reduce our carbon footprint.”

The brewery’s presence in the Leith area of Edinburgh expanded in 2020 with the opening of its “bar and fermentaria”, Lost in Leith, on Commercial Street. As well as offering a range of craft beers from Campervan and around the world, Lost in Leith plays host to a variety of events from poetry and live music to dance evenings and quiz nights.

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