THE concept of a brewery operating a pub is as old as ale itself, but while giant brewers have faced controversy over the supply of their own products, craft brewers are being encouraged to pour their own pints.

There is a difference of course. The centuries old beer tie forces tenants to buy products from their landlords. In England and Wales this was relaxed in 2016, and in Scotland, pressure is mounting for similar change.

For craft brewers, having their own bar gives them an opportunity to showcase their products and further entrench themselves in what has become a fashionable market for those with disposable income.

While such moves are great for the towns and cities where such bars are popping up, it is not without its risks. Making money from selling pints of beer is far trickier than it sounds, but with small breweries like Aberdeen’s Fierce joining big names such as Brewdog, Williams Bros. and Innis & Gunn, in opening a bar, it shows there is enough faith in the sector.

To really grow, however, the export market must be a focus, even if the required investment isn’t as glamorous as opening a bar in a trendy part of town. But this is an industry where gaining distribution in the domestic market is a challenge, never mind overseas.

Plaudits then must go the Craft Beer Clan of Scotland. Operating as part of JW Filshill International, the business has helped about two dozen brewers’ access 15 markets – mainly in the Asia Pacific region.

Recently, the business shipped its one millionth bottle of Scottish beer, and Chris Miller from the company said export markets were crucial for new and established brewers.

Now into its fifth year of operations, Mr Miller said he believes it is the quality of Scottish beer that made it stand out in a global market.

“These are markets that know Scotch, they recognise the quality of Scottish products, where and how they’re made, so we can certainly build on that,” he said.

Perhaps soon, more brewers will begin to eye up premises in these markets as well as distribution deals.