Tourism organisation launches ‘Spirit of Scotland’ craft beer

Crafting a new market: Scotland highlights opportunities for craft beer & tourism

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Loch Sunart, on the west coast of Scotland. Pic:iStock/PHoyle
Loch Sunart, on the west coast of Scotland. Pic:iStock/PHoyle

Related tags Craft beer Beer Scotland

The Scottish craft beer industry has the potential to capitalize on the food and drink tourism market (worth £900m / $1,192m a year to Scotland’s visitor economy), and the national tourism organization has launched a special ‘Spirit of Scotland’ craft beer to highlight the opportunities.

With 93% of visitors dining out in a restaurant, café or pub - and almost half sampling a local drink such as craft beer, gin or whisky – the market for craft beer tourism could be ‘hugely significant,' says VisitScotland.

Key consumer trends, such as an interest in provenance and authenticity, tie in well with brewers who highlight local landmarks, scenery and Scottish heritage.

VisitScotland, in partnership with Edinburgh-based Stewart Brewing, has launched the Spirit of Scotland craft beer to market the release of the research and support a ‘Spirit of Scotland’ campaign.

Whisky, salmon… and craft beer: the importance of provenance & quality

The report, conducted by VisitScotland in conjunction with The Brewers Association of Scotland, looked at the potential for craft beer to enhance the tourism experience through food and drink.

There are around 130 independent breweries in Scotland.

Trends in tourism and the craft beer industry see the rise of the importance of provenance, in an era where the concept of ‘farm-to-fork’ is changing shopping and eating habits and highlighting the importance of local food and drink.

“It is evident that many craft brewers use provenance as a means of differentiating their products from competitors,” ​says VisitScotland.

“It is also recognized as an excellent marketing tool to promote products values and brand story. Research conducted by The Brewers Association of Scotland found that nearly two thirds of respondents said the ‘brand of Scotland’ was important to their own brand, while 50% found it very important.”

A number of Scottish craft brewers also use either national or local landmarks to portray their product’s brand story, also drawing on the country’s beautiful scenery and landscapes.

How to make the most of the craft beer boom: VisitScotland’s recommendations

  • Shout about your authenticity: consumers want to visit the ‘real’ Scotland: so highlight venues like local pubs or restaurants, or products made in the local region.
  • Provenance: Food & drink is part of Scottish cultural identity and heritage, so is a key strength in promoting Scotland.
  • Recognize the rise of Millennials: Millennials are looking for unique experiences, and are more likely to travel outside of peak seasons, making them a good target market for the low seasons. 

Scottish heritage is another important theme for brewers.

“The use of Scottish words or phrases help to build upon the Scottish brand image as well as convey the story of the product. This may be in the name of a particular beer or ale. Some brewers will provide context to the products background in order to help the consumer identify the product with a particular event or place.”

Meanwhile, visitors often association Scotland with quality, thanks to the reputation that products such as whisky and salmon have built up, adds VisitScotland.

The Spirit of Scotland

spirit of scotland

The Spirit of Scotland craft beer is a hoppy, summer pale ale, brewed by Edinburgh-based Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen. The brewery was started in 2004 to supply local Edinburgh pubs; and now supplies more than 500 outlets. 

Market growth potential

It is estimated that around 20% of all tourism expenditure is on eating out or drinking.

VisitScotland sees a strong interest in Scottish craft beers developing around the globe: most notably from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Interest is also seen from visitors from the US, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and China.

These markets, which show a keen interest in Scottish craft beer, have a potential value to the eating out/drinking industry of around £158m ($210m) per annum.

Meanwhile, with tourists from other countries and within Great Britain added, the total estimated food and drink expenditure reaches £881m ($1,169m). 

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