By Karen Peattie

BROUGHTON Ales, the long-established independent Scottish craft brewer, has launched a £100,000 crowdfunder to help secure its long-term viability and stave off potential closure after losing a substantial chunk of its business due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The brewery, established by David Younger of the Younger brewing dynasty and James Collins in the Borders village of Broughton in 1979, claims to be Scotland’s first microbrewery and is widely credited for spearheading the craft beer movement in Scotland. But co-owner David McGowan said that without a robust pub trade the future looks bleak.

Mr McGowan, a former Diageo executive who bought the brewery with John Hunt and Steve McCarney in 2015, said: “We want to still be here in 2021 – that is the reality. We want to thrive and continue to put out beers that are interesting and innovative. August should be a fantastic month for us but with no Edinburgh festivals, and the pubs, hotels and restaurants just beginning to get back up and running again, it’s not happening.”

With events and concerts the “lifeblood” for the hospitality industry particularly during the important summer trading period and the beer industry a key beneficiary especially when the sun shines, small brewers are vulnerable, said Mr McGowan, whose business employs 11 people and has taken advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough some staff.

“We normally have two vans a day out delivering to central Scotland but now it’s just one,” he added. “As part of a small rural community it all drills down – we don’t need to buy so much fuel at the local petrol station, we’re not buying new tyres because we’re not covering the same mileage, the drivers aren’t stopping off to buy a sandwich.”

While people have been supporting the business by purchasing beers such as the award-winning Old Jock and the Hopo range online and in supermarkets and independent retailers, on-trade levels are only operating at 50-60 per cent of expected levels. “Our online business is growing via Ebay, Amazon and our own online shop,” said Mr McGowan. “Supermarket sales are slightly ahead of last year but this does not compensate for the loss of the on-trade.”