Now that’s what I call a pint: The rise of Fife’s small breweries ...

Sandra Duncan, Martin Dean, Andy Dean and Robyn Duncan-Dean. Pic: FPA
Sandra Duncan, Martin Dean, Andy Dean and Robyn Duncan-Dean. Pic: FPA

With all the worries over beer shortages hitting the headlines about the big drinks companies, it may get you looking elsewhere next time you grab a pint.

And you’d do well to look closer to home than the multinational beer firms, as Fife is fast becoming a hive for breweries.

There at least 11 breweries in the Fife area right now, and the drinks sector in the Kingdom appears to be booming.

Nowhere was this more obvious than the recent Kingdom of Fife Real Ale Festival which was held in Glenrothes.

Mick Green, of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Fife, said brewing firms in Fife were definitely on the up.

READ MORE: Video: Success of Fife’s 20th Real Ale and Cider Festival

“The breweries in Fife are quite small at the moment, but they all start small.

“It’s growing well in Fife, and the beer festival proved it. We had something like 700 people over three days, and not many places can boast those sort of figures.

“I think now people are getting bored with just the same thing from the big companies.”

Homebrewing has seen a resurgence in recent years, meaning more people are likely to make the leap to commercial brewing.

Coul Brewing are an up-and-coming brewer which has just moved into new premises in Glenrothes.

At the real ale festival their pale ale Baby Badger was highly commended.

They’re launching four new beers this summer, two pale ales, an 80 shilling, and a stout.

Andrew Dean, head brewer at Coul, said: “I’ve been brewing for about 20 years. I was homebrewing before I was almost old enough to drink the stuff.

“In about 2014 my brother and I did a commercial brewing course.

“It’s always been at the back of our minds as we’re quite successful homebrewers.

“At about July last year we decided to have a stab at it.

“We could now do at least 300 litres twice a week.”

The difference between home brewing and commercial brewing has been fairly straightforward for Andy.

“It’s much the same really, it’s just about the same amount of work.

“Now we’re using larger vessels and using pumps to move it around. It’s essentially the same process, you just get more.

“When I started it was kind of an anorakish thing to do just to get cheap beer.

“Whenever you went into homebrew shops it was always done on the cheap.

“But I would say in the last ten years there’s been a real shift from doing it on the cheap to people trying to make the best product they can.

“The advent of the internet, with people sharing tips, along with being able to buy kit from Europe and the US, and that’s really stirred it on. It’s become really trendy now.

“People like Brewdog and the Williams Bros have made people think ‘oh, I can do that’.”

Ian McGrath of Beath Brewing made the move two and a half years ago to brewing commercially.

He names his beers after song lyrics, which includes Fairytale in New Beath, and the oddly-named Unicorn Invasion of Dundee.

“I just enjoy brewing,” says Ian.

“And I was making so much of it I just had it everywhere. I just really wanted to get it into the shops and sell a few bottles.”

And with all these firms in such a small area, you’d think it could get overly-competitive, but Ian says in fact the brewing community in Fife can be quite close-knit.

“A lot of the smaller breweries, we all keep in touch with each other, and we share shipments of ingredients as you can get things a lot cheaper if you buy in bulk.

“We share what we can to keep the prices down.

“We don’t see it as being in competition with each other. We just work together to open the market.

“More access to ingredients, and just the satisfaction of doing it. And hearing stories of people starting up and doing it themselves, you just think, ‘you know what? I can give that a go.”

So we could well soon see many more breweries open in Fife, as more and more people start to realise for themselves; “I can give that a go”.