We’re regularly sent the details of products and new companies, but it isn’t very often that we get to hear from those who run the businesses, which is why we were delighted to be sent the details of an interview with Andrew McKnight, vice-chairman of Harviestoun Brewery.
What is your business called? Harviestoun is an independent craft beer brewer and has been at the forefront of the craft brewing phenomenon since 1983.
With water from Glenturret, barley from the down by the Forth and our own unique yeast, Harviestoun celebrates its 40th birthday this year.
Where is it based?
Originally in Dollar but now based at Alva in Clackmannanshire, near Stirling.
What does it produce?
Harviestoun produces a wide range of beers across kegs, casks, bottles & cans including:
Craft Lagers – Sorachi (4.4%) & Schiehallion (4.8%)
Golden Ales – Bitter & Twisted (3.8%) & Ptarmigan (4.5%)
Pale Ales – Table Beer (2.4%) & The Ridge (5%)
Craft Stouts – Old Engine Oil (6%) & Nitro Engine Oil (4.5%)
Along with a calendar of rotating seasonal cask ales. We also produce the multi-award-winning Ola Dubh, our premium stout aged in Highland Park casks and prized throughout the world.
Harviestoun’s most famous beer, Schiehallion (pronounced she-hal-ion) pilsner is named after a well-known mountain in Perthshire and was first brewed in 1994. It is unique among British beers as being the only current brand to win the coveted ‘World’s Best Pilsner’ award.
It has also been the best-seller in its many formats, from fridge pack cans and 500ml bottles to a new 5-litre mini-keg – perfect for the garden BBQ in the summer months.
To whom does it sell?
Harviestoun is lucky to have a diverse sales mix being well represented in the UK’s leading hospitality establishments including, Gleneagles, Cameron House, The Caledonian, The Balmoral, Turnberry & The Fife Arms to name a few.
Our beers are particularly well respected in the culinary world and indeed, TV chef James Martin describes Schiehallion as his favourite lager and stocks it in all his restaurants.
We’re keen to feature in the country’s famous cask ale houses as pioneers in the Scottish cask scene and think it’s vital to support this crucial segment of the brewing Industry.
Several of the grocery chains have been supportive during these difficult recent months and we hope to do more with independent retail and e-commerce too.
What is its turnover?
Turnover has been hammered down to £3.5m over the past few years but we hope to see that swing back.
How many employees?
Our independent brewery currently has 12 employees, including Amy Cockburn our Master brewer, who celebrates 15 years at Harviestoun this year. She and Lisa Matthews make a formidable all female brew team!
Why did you take the plunge?
After many years of consuming and retailing Harviestoun beers, I was asked to come and help the brewery team emerge fitter and stronger after some difficult years.
What were you doing before?
I have been (and still am) operating hospitality businesses for the last 25 years in the UK & abroad.
What do you least enjoy?
My least favourite element of any job is the office and admin I’m afraid. I prefer to be out and about.
What are your ambitions for the firm?
My ambition for Harviestoun is to stabilise and map out an interim strategy and then as with most companies, mould a team of great people who are essentially running the show.
What single thing would most help?
I’m encouraged by tentative moves toward levelling the playing field between retail and hospitality, which I think is good for society. Obviously, we would love to see the huge burden of taxation (duty & VAT) on beer further eased. Government should acknowledge that our great hospitality venues are crucial.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?
Surround yourself with good people and don’t think you can do it all yourself.
What was your best moment?
Too many to single one out. I’m blessed.
What was your worst moment?
Plenty of business challenges such as the financial crash and Covid, but a bit of faith goes a long way.
How do you relax?
It usually involves good food and drink. A great meal by the ocean or a pint of cask beer and a blether in a proper pub, and a good book.
For more information visit their website: harviestoun.com