By Gillian McKenzie
The Brodick-based craft brewer aims to transform the former Drummond Hotel at St Fillans on the banks of Loch Earn into a 30-bedroom hotel with three restaurants, two bars, a visitor centre and gift shop.
The new Loch Earn Brewery will produce its own range of craft beers and lagers, as well as the Hofbrau beers under licence from Munich’s Hofbrauhaus, with which Arran signed a distribution deal earlier this year.
The new brewery will be kitted out with equipment originally intended for the former Rosebank Distillery in Falkirk, which Arran Brewery bought late last year.
It plans to redevelop the site as the Forth and Clyde Brewery, Camelon Distillery and a bottling plant, but the project has been delayed.
Isle of Arran Brewery managing director Gerald Michaluk told SLTN last week it made sense to use the equipment in the Loch Earn brewery as it is expected to be up and running before the Falkirk site.
Work is due to get underway at Loch Earn next month, with the bars, restaurants and hotel expected to be open next March or April, followed by the brewery.
Michaluk said the development, which comes after Arran Brewery secured a finance deal with Bank of Scotland, is expected to attract around 30,000 visitors in its first year.
“The St Fillans site offers the brewery the chance to diversify and expand, producing a range of fresh and exciting brews in a new region of Scotland,” he said.
“The new premises will be situated on a stunning site overlooking Loch Earn and we hope to add to the magic of St Fillans with some island charm.”
The plans for Loch Earn come seven months after a proposed merger with the Isle of Skye Brewing Company hit the buffers following an unsuccessful bid to secure funding from the Scottish Government.
The Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) grant would have been used to help offset a duty increase, which would have resulted from the merged company producing more than 5000 hectolitres and, therefore, not qualifying for the Small Breweries Relief scheme.
Michaluk now plans to fund further expansion, including the development of the Rosebank site, through a crowd-funding scheme, which is expected to launch later this year and through which he aims to generate £4 million.
“We were very keen to progress the [Isle of Skye Brewing Company] deal but after we didn’t get the government grant, the deal was called off,” said Michaluk.
“Now we’re on schedule to launch the crowd-funding and we hope to raise £4 million.
“The craft sector is booming and the forecast is for even more growth.
“It’s full steam ahead for us.”