Dozens of Scottish craft brewers gathered at West in Glasgow yesterday for an informal forum to discuss whether and how they could benefit from working together on some issues.
One major item on the table was the idea of a bottling co-operative. For many of the very small brewers a bottling line of their own is completely unfeasible. Williams Bros do a ton of contract bottling for other micros who otherwise rely on the cask ale market. But it's not just the one-man-and-his-shed operations. You'd be surprised at the big names who currently ship their beer south of the border for bottling. Whether any of them would switch to a Scottish co-op remains to be seen; for quite a few of the more remote brewers Glasgow isn't really much closer than England. Some brewers cautiously welcomed the idea; others were less interested, depending on how much they thought they might benefit.
There's definitely a culture clash between the more ambitious micros and those that are content to carry on selling a relatively small amount to traditional real ale pubs. Everyone seemed happy to be there though.
Scottish micros seem in good shape and there are several major brewery expansion projects in planning or already underway. Expect more whisky-aged ale in the future and there's at least one new outfit preparing to launch with a style of beer new to the UK.