Pubs raise a glass to the revival of McEwan's Lager

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IT'S an 80s revival which will lead to cheers in pubs across the Capital – McEwan's Lager is back.

The brand, which became synonymous with the city's Fountain Brewery before it closed in 2005, has been reintroduced at a handful of Edinburgh pubs.

Now known as McEwan's Lager Cold, the original McEwan's was introduced in the 1970s and reached the height of its popularity in the 1980s, with big- budget adverts such as the famous "chin heads" making headlines.

The original brand was discontinued in 2003 and the new lager is being produced not in Fountainbridge, but at a number of breweries in England. Described as a "true session lager" by Scottish and Newcastle, the firm is positioning the drink as a "value for money" brand within its own range of beers and those of parent firm Heineken.

The return was today welcomed by local pubs and politicians.

Scott Anderson, a barman at the popular Victorian-era Bennets Bar in Tollcross, said the lager had proved a success since its return.

He said: "It has been a big seller. It is cheaper than the two premium lagers we sell but I think a lot of people prefer it to Miller, which is what we had before.

"It has been quite a big hit with the tourists actually because of the appeal of the Scottish name, but locals like it, too."

Opened by William McEwan in 1856, the Fountain Brewery was chosen for its proximity to the railway line.

For almost 150 years the distinctive smell of hops from the Fountainbridge brewery was a feature of the city.

Famously, Denis Thatcher once downed a drink during a visit to the brewery while campaigning with Mrs Thatcher in 1987.

The then Prime Minister apparently looked on tolerantly and handed him the remainder of her drink to finish off.

A total of 170 jobs were lost when the brewery closed.

Former Lord Provost Eric Milligan, a long-time champion of Edinburgh's brewing heritage, said: "It isn't a lager with a long history, it was probably at its height in the 1980s when it was vying with Tennent's for being the lager of choice in Scotland.

"Of course, they famously sponsored one of the football teams in Glasgow, which was a bit of a kick in the teeth at the time given it was made only a stone's throw away from Tynecastle.

"But I wish them well, it is good to see them bring back a Scottish brand.

"However, if they are serious about looking at the city's brewing past then they should look at bringing back Edinburgh Porter, which at one time was more popular than Guinness across the whole of the country."

Michael Hardy, trading director of Jygsaw Brands, which manages the marketing of Scottish and Newcastle's heritage brands, added: "McEwan's Lager was at a bit of a crossroads but we saw an opportunity to relaunch as a slightly lower abv (alcohol content], but one that also offers value for money.

"It is early days, but things are going well. We are finding that people are identifying with the Scottish element of the brand name and there has been a strong appeal from the more traditional pubs and clubs where the drink is at home."