Orkney Brewery embarks on expansion plans

An expansion project is underway at the Orkney Brewery which will create new jobs and enhance its green credentials.

Sinclair Breweries, which operates the brewery, is investing £300,000 to expand the kitchen in the Orkney Brewery’s Quoyloo visitor centre, install an on-site kegging plant and set up an improved temperature control system.

A contribution of up to £99,000 has been secured from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and around five new jobs are expected to be created as a result of the development.

The company currently sends bulk beer to England for kegging. The proposed new on-site kegging plant will be more efficient and environmentally friendly for the business, achieving savings in transport and packaging. At the same time, it will offer a greater variety of beers to be supplied in kegs, which have a longer shelf-life than casks.

Sinclair Breweries exports into European countries as well as the USA, which is its most important export market. This latest project will allow the business to build on its export sales by offering kegged beers to export markets for the first time.

Owned and operated by Orcadian Norman Sinclair, Sinclair Breweries is one of Scotland’s leading small independent breweries, with a string of international awards for its products.

The company produces a wide range of casked and kegged ales and a large range of bottled ales under the Orkney and Atlas Brewery brands, including such iconic brews as Dark Island, Skullsplitter, Latitude, Red MacGregor and Corncrake Ale.

The visitor centre was opened in 2012 within the original Quoyloo schoolhouse in Orkney’s west mainland.

It quickly became a very popular destination for locals and visitors alike and it is hoped that the expansion of the kitchen will mean extended opening hours into the evenings, and even extending the season, possibly opening through to the end of December each year.

It has been a challenging twenty months for the brewery, which saw its visitor centre closed during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bookings and pub orders were cancelled, although the brewery was able to continue to sell its beer thanks to its contracts with major grocers and supermarket chains.

The expansion project means the team can end the year on a positive note, with plenty of exciting plans for the future.

Norman Sinclair, said: "I am delighted that HIE is assisting us with these projects after a difficult 18 months. The north has seen an upsurge in visitors this year and is predicted to continue next year. The expansion of the visitor centre will enable us to cater for the higher demand and also allow us to cater for larger groups and meetings.

"We are very aware of our need to reduce our carbon footprint and the kegging plant will assist with this. We are also currently looking at other options that will help with our reduction.

"With both of these projects due to be completed in 2022, we will be recruiting more staff due to the high demand for our craft beers, both home and abroad."

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