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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.