WILLIAMS Bros has signalled its confidence in the potential for further major growth in the Scottish craft beer sector by outlining plans to grow capacity as much as five-fold.

In a move underlining the growing global appeal of craft beer made in Scotland, the brewer revealed it is examining how to radically expand the existing 60,000 hectolitre capacity of its Alloa site.

The company said the investment is partly aimed at offering brewing, canning and kegging facilities to small scale brewers looking to move into the export market.

Scott Williams, who set up the brewer with his brother Bruce in 1992, as an offshoot of the family home brewing business, said: “I’m working on increasing output at William Bros quite dramatically.

“I’m trying to scale up the brewing and the packaging facility so that we can do a lot more contract brewing for people, and make it more approachable for Scottish breweries to sell their beers abroad by getting the economies of scale and flexibility.

“You can go to Tennent’s and big breweries and get your stuff done cheaply, but you have to do a huge volume to be able to do that. We’re hoping to plug that gap in between.”

While the plans are still at an early stage, Mr Williams signalled that the company’s aspiration is to be able to do “five times what we are doing at the moment”. The goal, he said, is to offer small brewers a flexible packaging service, taking on brewing, canning and finishing products for them.

Asked to comment on the parts of the brewery which will have to upgraded to meet that target, he added: “We’ve got a lot of that resource already. A lot of it is technology, a lot of it is space and infrastructure. It’s aspirational, it’s not definitely going to happen, but you have got to have a dream.”

Mr Williams said there remains considerable scope for Scottish craft brewers to grow. In spite of the sector’s rapid growth, it still only represents some four per cent of the overall beer market.

“I think in America it is sitting around 12 per cent, so that’s what the aspiration is for the craft industry,” he said.

And he added that the Scottish sector will be helped towards that target by virtue of having “some of the best brewers in Britain”. Highlighting the output of peers such as Borders-based Tempest Brewing Company and Livingston’s Alechemy, Mr Williams said “there’s loads of fantastic, up and coming breweries out there, and there is certainly a lot [looking down] into England.

“The volumes seem to be going up all the time [and so is] the interest,” he said.

“It’s disproportionate in Scotland. The interest in craft beer is like London and Manchester. London, per capita, is probably ahead of Scotland, but Scotland is pretty much second in our interest in craft beer in the UK.

“And they win lots of awards - Scottish breweries win lots of awards at UK competitions. Whether it is [down to] the water I don’t know… but it is disproportionate again, when you consider the number of breweries and how well Scottish breweries do.”

Asked to elaborate on why he believes Scottish brewers are proving to be so successful, he highlighted the “proximity to BrewDog” and the movement of brewers from the famous craft brewer into other, smaller companies in Scotland.

“I think water has definitely got something to do with it. There is something about the quality of the brewing water,” he added.

“You can mimic that down south by filters and stuff like that [but] it is never quite the same.

Noting that the impact made by graduates from Heriot-Watt University’s famed brewing and distilling course cannot be understated, he added: “There is a lot of creativity in Scotland, [there] always has been. I think that has obviously got some impact.”

Meanwhile, Williams Bros has just expanded its presence in the bar and restaurant scene with the launch of a craft beer and curry outlet, Crossing the Rubicon, on Glasgow’s Great Western Road.

The venue, which offers 18 taps of beer and a broad range of curries, is based in the former Oblomov bar. It is the latest addition to Williams Bros’ Inn House Brewery stable which includes Inn Deep, also on Great Western Road.

Williams Bros is also a joint venture partner with Tennent’s Lager owner C&C Group in Drygate, the microbrewery, bar and restaurant in Glasgow’s east end.