Paul Hanrahan
Written by

Scotland has seen a marked rise in interest in craft beer, independent breweries and unusual flavourings, often highlighted at arts and cultural events across the country. Is it time for more collaboration with the arts?

Beer, Art, and Craft

This weekend a family-friendly cultural festival of food, music, entertainment and walking trails is taking place in Cairndow Argyle. The core theme of the festival however, is beer.

As a previous attendee of Fyne Fest – I would thoroughly recommend it.  Long gone are the days of middle aged men with tankards in heavy metal t-shirts pencilling in notes on bitterness and ABV (present writer excluded).  Craft beer and gin are becoming the focal point of many cultural events and tourist attractions across Scotland. The sheer wealth of breweries, beer styles and ingredients that are experimented with in modern brewing means there will be a beer for almost everyone.

For many independent breweries collaboration is a core theme of their work. There are many opportunities out there for arts organisations in Scotland to capitalise and reach younger audiences. Below are some examples of where beer and art are working together to take inspiration from.

Northern Monk Patrons Project

Canned beer has never previously been perceived as fashionable. It’s making a comeback in a big way within the craft beer scene which is a bonus for any budding artists out there. Apparently, the can protects the beer from sunlight which can affect the beer taste. It also means scope for some weird and wonderful can designs.

Beer Label

A Leeds Brewery, Northern Monk, set up a project which encouraged collaboration, creativity and community between artists, athletes and creatives across the north of England. The beer cans came with a unique piece of art on that you could remove and keep.  On the back of the can was information about the artist and where to find future information. Are there any breweries in your local area that you could collaborate with? Here’s a list.

Tate Modern – Wild Beer Co

Speaking of elegantly designed beer. Here is a bottle that I bought from Wild Beer some months ago.

Wild Beer Bottle


Their intriguing style, interesting and varied beer styles (particularly sour beers that have a champagne like quality) have not went unnoticed in the arts world. TATE Modern are working with Wild Beer to provide a pop-up outdoor social space with special food and drink offers alongside exhibitions and events.

As a self-confessed beer geek, many of my decisions on where to go and what to do revolve around whether they have good beer. I can be swayed to go to a cultural event based in the fact they have a good Hefeweizen on tap. I read recently about Craft Beer yoga being a thing now. I’m slightly more tempted to take up yoga.

Edinburgh Beer Factory and Paolozzi

Finally, a brewery closer to home that has become synonymous with beer and art – The Edinburgh Beer Factory. So much so that the flagship lager was named after Leith-born artist and sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi. For the launch of the beer, 200+ guests, including Paolozzi’s family members, were in attendance at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two. The frontage of the gallery saw a projection of some of Eduardo Paolozzi’s most famous work. It’s refreshing to see that organisations are realising the similarities and opportunities that can bring arts and craft together.

Beer Tourism

Speaking of refreshing, I’ll leave you with a couple of my favourite Scottish beers/breweries/areas to give you some further…beer for thought?

West Brewery, Glasgow – Beer: Heideweiss Beer Style: Hefeweizen – ‘Glaswegian Heart, German Head’ is the slogan of this brewery. So disappointed was the German-born owner with the beer on offer in Scotland as a student in Glasgow, she decided to create her own brewery with German beers on offer. Their Hefeweizen Beer is a typical beer of Bavaria. With hints of banana and cloves, it is a must-have for a refreshing beer in the sun. West on the Green is the ideal place to try this – a stone’s throw from Glasgow Green and some of Glasgow’s best landmarks.

Cromarty Brewery Beer: Brewed Awakening: Beer Style: Coffee Stout. Situated at the Black Isle of Scottish Highlands, this brewery is a bit off the beaten track. Nonetheless it shows the innovation in the highlands to encourage tourism for beer and gin trails close to Inverness. Black Isle Brewery is very nearby and also supplies a wide range of excellent organic beers. Brewed Awakening is the pick me up of pick me up beers, best served at room temperature on a cold winters night. Stout doesn’t have to stop at Guinness.  If you are in Cromarty drop by nearby Channary Point in Fortrose to view the dolphins during the summer months. Don’t forget to stop by The Anderson for a much needed refreshment. They often have a Cromarty beer on tap as well as a huge menu of Belgian beer.

If you take nothing else from this blog, please take the opportunity to try good beer.

Main image credit: Craft beer sign by Anna Hanks (cropped) (CC BY 2.0)