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How breweries in your area have fared during the pandemic



Across Scotland, the number of breweries has grown in the last year, despite the pressures of the pandemic.

There were around 130 units brewing beer as of March 2021 – the same number as the year before – which was a record high.

The number has more than tripled, from just 40 breweries operating nationally a decade ago.

The vast majority of brewers are what the Office for National Statistics (ONS) refer to as micro businesses – those with fewer than 10 employees.

The number of micro businesses remained at 105 in March 2021, while there are 20 small brewers (with 10 to 49 employees), and fewer than three medium and large brewers (more than 50 employees).

The long-term boom in smaller businesses is partly down to a surge in the popularity of craft beer, with increasing demand for more choice and specialist options, such as vegan or gluten free beer.

Diving deeper into the figures, the ONS data reveals that there were around 10 local units brewing beer across Glasgow as of last March.

That was the same as the number estimated to be operating in the area in March 2020 – and while the figure has remained stable since 2019, it has risen significantly from fewer than three in 2010.

The number of breweries in Edinburgh also remained steady during the coronavirus crisis.

There were around 15 local units brewing beer across Edinburgh as of March 2021 – same as the number estimated to be operating in the area in March 2020. And while the figure has remained stable since 2019, it has risen significantly from fewer than three in 2010.

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Meanwhile, in Aberdeen there were around five local units brewing beer across Aberdeen as of March 2021.

That was the same as the number estimated to be operating in the area in March 2020 – and while the figure has remained stable for much of the last decade – it has risen from fewer than three in 2010.

The craft beer revolution was also fuelled by something called Small Brewers’ Relief – a tax break introduced in 2002 by Gordon Brown.

However, the more recent increase in the number of breweries may have been impacted by the pandemic.

During lockdowns when pubs and bars were closed, many people turned to ordering online to try craft beers at home – with customers particularly keen to support local, independent businesses.

Some new brewers may have also decided to turn their passion for beer into a business after being made redundant or put on furlough.

Nik Antona, national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “After the struggles of the past two years, it is good to see the industry continue to demonstrate resilience against all odds.

“The pandemic has had a massive impact on brewers who have had to be nimble and innovative to meet the new challenges of lockdowns, restrictions and reduced consumer confidence – from offering takeaway services to expanding online deliveries.

“However, these figures do not mean that we can rest on our laurels – the industry is still vulnerable – with ongoing issues around the cost of goods, lack of business rate relief and important details that need deciding as part of the Alcohol Duty Review.”

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