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Inside Pilot Brewery, Leith's Biggest Beer House

Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland
Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland | Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip
Just north of Edinburgh, Pilot Brewery is the first commercial brewery to be set up in Leith for almost a century. Founders Matt Johnson and Patrick Jones met at Heriot-Watt University, where they were both studying for a master’s in brewing and distilling. Culture Trip travelled to Leith to chat with Jones about what goes into making a Pilot brew.

CT: Who is the founder and how did this brewery start?

PJ: Me and the other founder Matt met while studying. We got on well and had similar views on beer so decided the best thing to do would be to start a brewery.

Patrick Jones, co-founder and director Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip

CT: How did you get into brewing beer?

PJ: A bit of home brewing at first, but then very quickly taking I took the leap to ditch my job and study for the master’s.

Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip

CT: What do you look for in a beer? Is it taste or is it the philosophy behind the brand?

PJ: Taste. We’ll always have a very specific idea of the final result we want, then talk around how we’re actually going to get there.

Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip

CT: What is this brewery’s approach and philosophy to brewing beer?

PJ: Anything goes, as long as the basic idea is solid. Something could sound stupid, like throwing sweets into a beer, but could actually have solid reasoning behind it and produce the sort of results we’re after.

CT: Can you talk through the range of beers on offer?

PJ: The full range we’ve done would take far too long, but we offer a core of pales varying from floral to spicy to tropical. Then we do more esoteric things like imperial red grape saisons and seawater and liquorice stouts.

Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip

CT: What was the first beers you made, have your flavours changed?

PJ: The very first beer we brewed was Vienna Pale, a Vienna lager-inspired beer, which we still brew to almost the same recipe. Our range as a whole has become much more adventurous though.

Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip

CT: Do you offer any brewery tours? How can people experience your beer?

PJ: We don’t at the moment, though we hope to in future. For now people can experience our beer at any of the permanent lines we have.

CT: Do you have any regular events that people can get involved with?

PJ: Not really, though you can see what we’re up to on our social media.

Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland Zsolt Stefkovics / © Culture Trip