Scotland: Innis & Gunn to build brewery on university site

Innis & Gunn, the No. 2 craft brewer in the UK off-trade, is eying to build a 400,000 hl brewery, a taproom and a visitor center at Heriot Watt University's research campus in Edinburgh, Scotland. The firm aims to open the facility early in 2021 when a contract brewing agreement with Tennent Caledonian Breweries UK from 2014 has ended.

Innis & Gunn beer was launched in 2003 by Master Brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp and is currently contract brewed in Glasgow at Tennent's Wellpark Brewery.  “Our strategy since 2003 has been to brew in breweries that belong to others,” said Mr. Sharp. “We did this because it allowed us to be completely focused on developing our brand at home and overseas. During 2018, we undertook a strategic review of our whole brewing operation and in particular the outsourced elements of it. This review revealed the full extent of the business benefit to be gained by building and operating our own full-scale brewery.”

When Tennent’s announced in November 2018 to terminate the contract brewing agreement with effect from September 2020, Innis & Gun responded the following day by saying they plan on opening their own brewery (, 16.11.2018).

"Our fans can expect big things from us in the coming years. The brewery will have an annual capacity of 400,000 hectoliters and we will have volumes of 200,000 hectoliters when we open the doors there,” the founder announced.

The site near Heriot Watt’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) has not been confirmed yet but “we have instructed our agents to submit the request for an initial environmental feasibility study of this potential site,” a spokesman of the brewery said.

"For me putting the brewery in Edinburgh, where we first brewed Innis & Gunn, feels like we have come home as a business,” Mr.  Sharp said.

In 2016, Innis & Gunn purchased the Inveralmond Brewery on the outskirts of Perth, Scotland. According to the statements, the company intends to continue brewing there the Inveralmond Brewery range of cask and bottled ales as well as focusing on experimentation and limited edition barrel-aged beers.

At the beginning of September, Innis & Gunn reported to return to profitability in 2019 after the company reported a loss of about GBP 2 million in 2018. “2018 was a year in which we used our balance sheet strength to prepare for the future,” Mr. Sharp commented. Turnover increased from GBP 19.1m in 2017, to GBP 21.3m in 2018. When opening the new brewery in 2021, Innis & Gunn is aiming to achieve a turnover of GBP 40m.

The brewer’s total beer volume grew 14.8 percent in 2018 driven by a rapid rise in its Innis & Gunn Lager Beer brand, which was up 38 percent.

Update 23.09.2019:

Martin Robinson, chair of Burger King UK has been appointed as  non-executive chair of Innis & Gunn. “Martin is a strong addition to our team and his appointment comes at a key time for our business.,“ Mr. Sharp was quoted as saying in a press statement. “Martin brings a wealth of retail, brand building and strategic management expertise as we embark on some of our biggest strategic initiatives to date, including the building of the Innis & Gunn Brewery in Edinburgh.”

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