Brewing up a storm

Brewing up a storm

Annika and Gavin Meiklejohn are toasting the growth of Tempest Brewing Co after moving their beer business from Kelso to Tweedbank.

Scotland is enjoying a beer renaissance. There are now more than 100 craft breweries dotted throughout the country, making everything from traditional pints of heavy and lager through to majorly-hopped American pale ales and Belgian-influenced wheat beers.

At the heart of the beer revival in the Borders is Tempest Brewing Co, which was set up in 2010 by husband-and-wife team Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn and which moved from Kelso to a bigger 30-hectolitre brewery in Tweedbank in February 2015. Since then the company has gone on to win a series of prizes, including being crowned “Brewery of the Year” in 2016 at both the British Institute of Innkeeping Scotland Awards and the Scottish Beer Awards.

Its beers have continued to win accolades too, including four gold medals and a silver at the 2016 Scottish Beer Awards, and a slew of others at the Barcelona Beer Challenge and The Beer Awards.

Tempest’s journey began when Gavin and Annika moved to the Borders from New Zealand in 2007 to start a brewery, having learned the ropes abroad and travelled to Sydney in Australia to study. Instead, fate led them to open and run The Cobbles Inn at Kelso.

TempestAfter three years – during which they transformed the outlet into an award-winning gastropub – Gavin wanted to turn his focus back to his passion for good beer. With a small brewing kit in an old dairy in Kelso in 2010, Tempest Brewing Co was founded, before moving to Tweedbank in 2015.

Annika explains that being just a six-minute walk from Tweedbank station means the brewery can easily facilitate regular brewery-based events, and has helped to attract staff from the Central Belt, who may not have considered working for the company previously due to its location.

The business has grown to employ 14 full-time members of staff and one part-time worker. Annika highlights the company’s proximity not only to Edinburgh but also to Newcastle. “There are good transport links – including the road network as well as the railway,” she explains. “We have pretty good produce on our doorstep, including the best pale malt grown in the UK.”

She adds: “The impact of the Borders Railway has been great for our business. It was actually one of the deciding factors for us moving into Tweedbank from Kelso.

“It’s enabled us to hold meetings with suppliers and other business partners either here at the brewery or up in the city. And it’s increased footfall at our brewery’s shop – we’re seeing that week by week – both from locals and from visitors who are coming to the Borders on the train.

“The last on-site beer festival we held had 1,000 people and 70% of the people who came used the railway to get down here. We are now looking to expand again into a purpose-built brewery, with a shop and taproom.”

To find out more about business opportunities along the Borders Railway corridor please contact Stuart Kinross on 01835 826505 or email stuart.kinross@scotborders.gov.uk