The world of brewing is almost incomprehensibly vast; there are about 100 breweries in Scotland, all producing different beers with different brewers and more popping up across the country all the time. When you think of how much beer that is, it starts to boggle your mind a little.
But, as with most other breweries, we don’t tend to think too much about that. Not because we don’t like other breweries, not because we don’t drink anyone else’s beer, but because when you work at a small brewery you’re so focussed on what you’re doing that you physically can’t think about anyone else. Any other small producer will tell you that like us, they operate with small, tight-knit teams and everyone mucks in on whatever they can lend a hand to. And believe us when we say that everyone on our team works immensely hard with an incomparable passion for what they do.
When you have such a small team, making so much beer and trying to get it out into the world, you do kind of have to stay in your little bubble and concentrate all your energy into making your brewery the best it can be. From the beer, to marketing, to events, to sales, everyone needs to be working together and share the same ethos. You forget, that you’re just one of a hundred breweries in the country, so when awards shows roll around…you’re suddenly reminded of how much other amazing beer is being made in Scotland.
Last night, eight of us travelled into Edinburgh for the Scottish Beer Awards; a celebration of the industry in Scotland, where we were nominated for 9 awards. We were in the company of so many other people in the industry, other teams just like ours. All of the beers and teams nominated deserved recognition, it was incredibly humbling to see so much talent and so many good beers listed.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wanting us to get on with saying what we ended up winning, so we’ll get that out the way so we can continue talking about the awards and about what they mean for us:
Best IPA – Gold – Brave New World
Best Porter/Stout – Gold – Red Eye Flight
Best Specialty Beer – Gold – Mexicake
Best British Style – Gold – Old Parochial
Best Pale Ale – Silver – The Pale Armadillo
Growth Business of the Year
Scottish Brewery of the Year
So we did pretty well we reckon. Now, it’s easy to be jaded about awards ceremonies, there are awards shows for everything these days, but this is different. These are the first Scottish Beer Awards, it hasn’t been done before and the fact that it’s possible to host them with so many amazing breweries entering is a huge testament to the growth in the beer industry in Scotland over the last few years. It’s been just under a decade since the first craft breweries started popping up, it’s crazy to imagine that all those teams that attended the show just didn’t exist a few years ago.
It’s not just that, although that is impressive. It gets much more personal than that for us.
The last year and a half has been the most monumental in our brewery’s history. We’ve said time and time again how big it was for us to move to Tweedbank and increase our capacity and buy a bottling line and make more beer and hire more people. It has been an immense amount of work. Over the last year, we’ve started selling into Aldi, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer, and Morrisons. We’ve started working with distributors across the UK. We’ve started exporting our beer into Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and we’ve been in talks to start going into New Zealand; our spiritual home. We’ve taken on new people, went to events all over the country and internationally, we’ve deepened old relationships, and forged new friendships in the trade. And through it all we’ve kept our same core values and ethos of being fresh, innovative, and championing production quality.
We were nominated for 6 taste awards, and we took home 5; the 4 Gold awards mean we took home half of the taste awards. The judging for the beers was blind tasting, meaning the judges didn’t know who brewed what, they just had to go by what’s in the glass. The fact we took four Gold awards says to us that we’re doing things the right way by being so focussed on production quality. We don’t let beer leave the brewery unless we are absolutely happy with the quality, and we constantly test the beer for consistency and quality from brew to bottle. We use the best ingredients we can source, we don’t take short cuts, and we do everything ourselves. These awards are validation for us from our peers and from industry experts, that this is the way to make a damn good beer.
With the two business awards, it’s further validation but from a different perspective. It’s one thing to make good beer, but it’s another to make good beer and be successful in getting it out into the world. We’re not a big company, we’ve got a team of 13 wonderful, passionate people who put their all into making our brewery work; they’re what makes Tempest what it is. The Growth Business of the Year award is a reflection of how much we’ve managed to pack in since moving to the new facility in Tweedbank, the demand for what we make has been overwhelming and incredible.
Of course, the top accolade of the night was Scottish Brewery of the Year. Out of all the breweries that entered, it feels incredible to be named the best. Everybody on the team works so hard, we’ve always done things our way and tried to stay innovative and creative and never allow ourselves to see any boundaries with what can be done with beer. Like we said at the start, it’s almost necessary when you’re a small brewery to only focus on what you do and do it to the best of your ability. So when someone outside of that environment comes along and gives you an award like this, it makes you appreciate that people are recognising the work you do. People have seen our ethos, our way of doing things, how hard we work, how much we try to be passionate and creative, and how dedicated we are to quality, and they think all of that warrants an accolade like Brewery of the Year.
For us, we’re going to make sure we appreciate and use our recent awards to continue to push forward in getting as much good beer into the world as we can. It’s given us that lift to prove to ourselves that what we’re doing is good, and we are so proud. If this is what we’ve done in less than 2 years after moving to our bigger brewery…then you better keep watching because this is only the beginning.
We’d like to thank a few people to conclude this blog, firstly thank you to KD Media who organised the awards, and to their judging panel who awarded us so many amazing accolades. Thank you and congratulations to our fellow nominees and winners, and to all the other breweries in Scotland that have been making the industry what it is today.
Thank you to our friends and families, who support and motivate all of us to keep doing what we do. Thank you to our customers including bottle shops, bars, restaurants, distributors, importers, and buyers who help us get our beer into the world.
And finally thank you to every single person who has bought or tried one of our beers in the last 6 years since we started in 2010. Without you, we wouldn’t be here.
Annika and Gavin, Doug, James, Graeme, Kate, Shannon, Brennan, Rowan, David, Scott, Greg, and Steven.