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Lots to celebrate: (from left) Loch Lomond export and development manager George Wotherspoon ; SIBA chair Guy Sheppard; Loch Lomond co-owner Fiona McEachern.

Loch Lomond: progressing on all fronts

Loch Lomond Brewery is preparing to rebrand the business to reflect a more ‘progressive’ style of brewing.

Fresh from celebrating its success at the SIBA Scotland Awards, where the brewer took home seven Golds including overall Gold in both the cask beer and small pack categories, Fiona McEachern, co-owner with husband and head brewer Euan, told The Brewery Manual it’s time to give the company a new image.

“We’re not just a traditional brewery, we’ve developed a lot of new style, hoppier beers, but our packaging doesn’t always tell the customer that,” she elaborated. “So we’re looking for something modern and progressive, something that jumps of the shelf.”

Glasgow-based agency Thirst has been entrusted with the rebrand, marking the first time Loch Lomond has outsourced designs since it was launched six years ago.

McEachern also revealed the company is “looking at a bigger kit and at getting our own kegging line.”

The brewery has been expanded as recently as summer 2016, when four 18-barrel fermenters and a 20-barrel lager tank were added.

With the launch of canned Loch Lomond Craft Lager in October of that year, the brewer has enjoyed rising sales of the pilsner-style brew, helping lift total volumes to 10,000 litres a week. Packaged at Cumbria Contract Bottling, the lager is currently on trial in keg in a limited number of accounts, as is core brand Silkie Stout.

“We won’t release the kegged beers more widely until we’re sure our customers are 100% happy,” said McEachern, while confirming that the popularity of keg would not distract the firm from its core cask beer business.

“We’re selling more and more cask every week, and it still accounts for at least 70% of our production.”

The SIBA Gold for cask went to the relatively new Outlander, a 6.5% abv scotch ale, while Silkie Stout took the small pack prize, completing the double for Loch Lomond’s biggest sellers.

They are now both being matured in bourbon casks from the neighbouring Loch Lomond Distillery to launch a series of aged beers.

McEachern puts awards success down to the “good soft water here - and we don’t skimp on the quality of ingredients.

“We’ve used the same maltster for six years, and the same 10-barrel kit we started with. Euan works full-time brewing now, which must help with consistency, and we’re as methodical as we can be and stick to the recipes.

“When we started there were 43 breweries in Scotland, now there are 150,” she went on. “The main thing is keeping our largest regular customers happy. Most of them are right on our doorstep – although in this part of the country that can mean a two-hour drive.

“We’re on rotation in Edinburgh and Glasgow, too, but rural pubs will stick with what they know and like because they rely on local customers. So we keep a close check on what people are enjoying.”

Increasing competition on Loch Lomond’s home turf, however, means 20% of production is now exported, mainly to Italy and the Nordic countries.

McEachern noted that exports to additional markets are under consideration.

“Exports have become important to us because we can use our name, which is known over the world, and we can use the awards to introduce ourselves to foreign markets, and hopefully gain a bigger audience around the UK.”

Phil Mellows
29th September 2017

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