The Story of Harviestoun Brewery
Harviestoun started life in a shed on 5th October 1983. Fanatical home brewer Ken Brooker hosted what would become his legendary Tuesday tasting nights sharing great beers with local friends. This ethos of simply producing superb beer that people love remains with the business to this day.
As Harviestoun’s reputation for great beer grew it was time for our first brewery. It was here that we first me Harvie the mouse, a resourceful and determined character, our mascot was born.
Schiehallion was launched, named after the Scottish Mountain whose symmetry was used to measure the weight of the world in Victorian times. This refreshing pilsner remains the brewery’s number one seller to this day.
New products were developed by Harviestoun legends such as master brewer Stuart Cail, who would test these on a kit operated by a friend in his shed. One of them was Bitter & Twisted. A light, hoppy beer might not sound very ‘out there’ today, but back in the late 1990s it was truly revolutionary.
Local farmer Ian began taking our spent grains and hops from the brewery, which he continues to do to this day.
A team-inspired idea to age some of our beer in whisky casks was conceived. A few short months later Old Engine Oil Special Reserve was born.
Harviestoun was tamed! Our track record of innovative, brilliant beers hadn’t gone unnoticed. Founders of Caledonian Brewery, themselves the pioneers of cask real ale in Scotland, Sandy Orr and Donald MacDonald decided that admiring Harviestoun from afar was not enough. After 23 years of brilliance a new chapter began as part of Caledonian.
We became the first brewery to formally partner with a distillery, Highland Park. To this day, we work together to produce one of the most revered barrel-aged beers around, Ola Dubh. Our journey as Scotland’s most decorated brewery continued, as Bitter & Twisted won Best Ale at the World Beer Awards.
The year we proved that good things come in threes. Schiehallion won World’s Best Pilsner at the World Beer Awards. To date, we’re the only British brand to hold this award. We also became the only craft beer ever to be sold and then return to independence, as Sandy and Donald focused on nurturing and building the Harviestoun story. Finally, brilliant young brewer Amy joined the team, mostly to prove wrong a male friend who laughed when she said she wanted to be a brewer.
A year of ups and downs. The snow was so bad that none of the brewers could get in for a week, but spirits were raised when Ola Dubh won World’s Best Speciality Dark Ale and Old Engine Oil won Europe’s Best Standard Porter at the World Beer Awards.
Our commitment to local ingredients moved up a notch as we committed to using only malted barley from Alloa maltings, just four miles away. Our brewery team headed further afield for their first IBD (Institute of Brewing & Distilling) study tour to Belgium, because in brewing there is always more to learn.
The hard work on Ola Dubh paid off again as it won UK’s Best Wood-Aged Beer at the World Beer Awards. By this time, it was referred to as “All I Do” by the brewery team, because it is incredibly difficult to blend a host of exotic and complementary flavours through a six-month maturation.
Another year of threes! Not content with our commitment to a local malting, we agreed with a local farmer to grow our very own field of barley to be malted in Alloa and delivered directly to the brewery.
Master Brewer Stuart celebrated 20 years at Harviestoun whilst Brewhouse Operator Davie celebrated 25 years. Almost half a century between them.
Our new executive team of Kevin & Stu had a great idea. Our award-winning brew Schiehallion was named after a monumental local mountain, so why don’t we climb it? We did, raising cash for a charity close to our hearts, Euan’s Guide. The year also gave rise to a branding transformation, with a complete rebrand, while staying true to our authentic beer expertise and an increased drive on innovation. A revolutionary 0% ABV dark ale, Wheesht, was born, coupled with a raft of refreshing authentic lager brands.
Innovating to find the next great beer never stops and the latest development by junior brewer Lisa is launched as Heaven Cent session IPA.
A changing of the guard as Master Brewer Stuart Cail retires after 25 years with Harviestoun. When one era ends another begins as Amy Cockburn takes over from Stuart as Master Brewer ready to lead Harviestoun into its next phase.
28 years after it was first brewed Schiehallion continues to delight, winning overall champion Cask Beer of Britain at the annual SIBA awards. For all the changes though the Harviestoun story some things remain the same. A great beer is a great beer.