Forget Nessie!! Where’s the beer? Our visit to the Loch Ness Brewery
Nestled between the sheep spotted hills of the highlands and the beauty of Loch Ness is the small village of Drumnadrochit, Scotland. This is home to the Loch Ness Brewery and Benleva Hotel. We had the pleasure to stay at the hotel, drink and eat at the pub and have a full Scottish breakfast to send us on our way in the morning. We really enjoyed ourselves; the food, hospitality and, of course, the beer were all great!
The Loch Ness Brewery brewery was originally in a garage behind The Benleva Hotel to feed the Hotels pub with real ale until it could no longer keep up. The beer is being sold around the UK as well and there is a big demand for their beer by locals and the tourists. So much demand that the garage could no longer contain the brewery.
So the hunt was on for a new home for the brewery. Now, you have to understand that Drumnadrochit does not have a huge main street nor are there commercial buildings all over the place. There was, however, an abandoned building that was once home to a pub long ago a couple of blocks down the street from the hotel that had been on the market for some time that became the home of the new brewery. The building has its challenges with no loading dock and doors that are too narrow to get a pallet through. This means that everything going into or out of the brewery is moved by hand. They manage to get the beer brewed and shipped regardless of the challenges. One thing that is evident is the demand for the delicious brews are still increasing as they brewery is looking for yet another home. This time around they are thinking about building a brewery that will be able to accommodate proper tours and a visitor center to accommodate the hordes of visitors that come to the area in search of the Loch Ness Monster and to explore the Urquhart Castle ruins. This seems like a fantastic idea and I am certain it will be well received by the locals and those tourists flocking to the area alike. With their sights set on exporting to the United States, extra brewing capacity and a loading dock will be essential.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Steve Crossland, one of the co-owners of the brewery and hotel. He is passionate about beer and a smart businessman who has found a great brand and brought the beer to back it up. The marketing behind the product is clever too; from the playful Nessie on the label to the beer names all containing NESS. Beer names such as RedNESS, DarkNESS, LightNESS, HopNESS, LochNESS, HoppyNESS and their brand new Russian Imperial Stout, NESStrovia. There are some specialty whisky barrel aged brews too and having a brewery with Loch Ness as the name just gives it that recognizable edge; whether you have had the honor of enjoying a pint of the ale or not, you almost surely have heard of Loch Ness. This is great brand awareness without even having to do much work. The garage that once was the birthplace of the brewery now serves as the gift shop. You
With plenty of their own cask beer on tap at the hotels pub as well as a couple of guest casks that they have picked up, you will find a good variety of real ale to sample. During the Loch Ness Beer Festival they arrange for cask exchanges with the other breweries and that gives their own real ale a chance to be taken to other pubs and spreads the word of small breweries looking to grow. There were a couple of guest beers on tap at the hotels pub during our visit and it’s the only place that we stopped during our trip that we had seen them. The pub is a great little place with such a wonderful atmosphere. The fireplace crackles as the locals come and go along with their dogs, a few obvious tourist stroll in, curiously looking around.
There is no wonder that they were awarded the Highlands and Western Isles CAMRA Pub of the Year 2012. Come and stay at the hotel, visit the pub and drink the real ale; there’s no real reason to leave the place! Please go and check out the Loch Ness Brewery’s website to learn more or follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates.