Name: Stuart Cook.

Age: 46.

What is your business called?

Harviestoun Brewery. I am joint managing director.

Where is it based?

Alva, near Stirling.

What does it produce?

Harviestoun is an independent producer of high-quality craft beer and is one of the most awarded breweries in Scotland. Our range includes lagers, ales and stouts.

Our most famous beer, Schiehallion, is named after a well-known mountain in Perthshire and was first brewed in 1994. It is unique among British beers as being the only current brand to

win the coveted “World’s Best Pilsner” award.

To whom does it sell?

We have a wide following and distribution of our product range in

UK pubs and restaurants. During the lockdown, with these outlets forced to close, our established online business jumped 2,000 per cent as fans of our beers were driven online to get their brews. We have been blown away by the response.

We now provide an online, next day delivery service (if orders are placed before 1pm), as well as selling across the trade, both direct and through wholesalers. We also work closely with key online E-commerce retailers and have a range of supermarket listings

in Scotland.

The dark beers, in particular – Old Engine Oil, Engineers Reserve and the Ola Dubh age range – are especially in high demand across Europe, China, America, Canada and South Korea.

What is its turnover?

Around £4 million in the last financial year, although the Covid-19 coronavirus has had a significant negative impact.

How many employees?

22, including a female head brewer, which is almost unique for the brewing industry, as well as a Master Brewer with well over 20 years’ experience at the brewery. The Harviestoun Brewhouse rule is that no Harviestoun beer will leave the brewery unless Stuart Cail (master brewer) or Amy Coburn (head brewer) are delighted with its creation and consistency.

When was it formed?

Harviestoun has been brewing in

the shadow of the Ochil Hills, Clackmannanshire, since 1983. Our beers are made with the soft local water and the majority of our barley is grown within eight miles of the brewery.

The brewery is owned by entrepreneurs Sandy Orr and Donald MacDonald who, in partnership with the Sharp family, acquired Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh in 2008.

Harviestoun had been acquired by Caledonian Brewery in 2006. When Caledonian was subsequently sold to Scottish & Newcastle, Sandy and Donald kept Harviestoun out of the sale transaction believing it could thrive as an independent. They have been joint chairmen of Harviestoun since 2008. The business is now led by me and Kevin Giudici as joint managing directors.

Why did you take the plunge?

I joined Harviestoun 18 months ago from Diageo, having spent 16 years there. While at Diageo I set up the grocery business for the start-up Reserve Premium business and loved creating something smaller.

After many years in a large business

I wanted to do the same again. When the Harviestoun opportunity came along, it was just perfect.

What were you doing

before you took the plunge?

At Diageo I had numerous roles throughout sales and marketing. My last role there was head of field sales and key accounts in the on-trade.

What was your biggest break?

Honestly, it is the Harviestoun opportunity. I loved my time in Diageo but I was ready for a challenge. This sort of opportunity, with supportive owners and such good brands, doesn’t come along every day.

What was your worst moment?

The lockdown due to Covid-19. We had just re-set the business where we wanted it to be, had enjoyed five months of like-for-like growth and were ahead of the plan for the first time since I had arrived … and then all the pubs were shut.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Freedom to make quick decisions. One of the reasons I wanted a career change was to get away from feeling bogged down by “committee decision panels”.

What do you least enjoy?

I love being out and about, meeting customers, being at the brewery.

I have found the lockdown and

mainly working from home hard.

There are many of us in the same

boat but this industry is so social and for that to have been taken away

for the last few months has been tough.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

Whether the consumer is at a bar, in the supermarket or ordering beer online,

I want to be the beer of choice when they see our name.

What could the Westminster

and/or Scottish governments

do that would help?

Apart from continued help after

Covid-19, my next ask would be small brewers’ relief. The way of calculating the relief from beer duty that producers get should be reformed to help smaller firms compete with large brewers, who have massive economies of scale.

What is the most valuable

lesson you have learned?

Having recovered from a serious illness in 2007, the year after my twins were born through IVF, I realised nothing is more important than life or death. As a result, while I am passionate about what I do, I don’t sweat on the small stuff. There will always be bumps

in the road, but we all have to get these in perspective.

How do you relax?

If not with the family or walking the dog, you will find me on the golf course trying to improve my handicap.