Edinburgh is a great city for beer, but until recently it was severely lacking in one particular facet – brewery taprooms. We are lucky to boast the best selection of independent beer retailers and bottle shops in the UK, I think (relative to the size of the city), and you could argue the same about pubs and bars. With new breweries opening all the time the number of producers is also rising – and yet if you want to head to the people in question and hang out on a weekend with a beer made right there, there just aren’t that many options. Edinburgh Beer Factory is one, and that’s about it (Barney’s have events, the Caley has a great downstairs bar if they are hosting you – but it ends there). Until this weekend just gone, that is.
The soft launch of Edinburgh’s newest taproom was a great success, and from this Saturday the Campervan Brewery tap at their Jane Street brewery will be open for business. Paul Gibson moved his brewing operations from his converted garage to a bespoke unit at the start of the year, and has been knuckling down taking on all parts of the business since – with the Edinburgh Festival in mind as a target for opening a bona fide brewery taproom, his small but growing team opened the shutters last weekend as the festival kicked off the same weekend. Inside his brewery there are plenty of pallet-seats, with a few outside as well, and four keg lines supported by his range of bottles.
On my visit the standouts were the new Pacific Zest, a NZ hopped and lime zest Pale Ale brewed by his new appointee (and Ex-Heriot-Watt and Harviestoun man) Max Gruenke, and the amped-up Leith’al Juice, a 7.5% ABV grapefruit double IPA. At the moment, Paul and Max are brewing once a week on their 6BBL kit, with three fermenters needing a few more additions so that they can clear more orders and get things moving a bit more. The focus for Campervan is switching more to keg and away from bottles, with the much-needed extra tanks giving them the facility to condition before filling rather than keg-condition as they do at the moment. As with many small breweries, it is all hands on deck, all of the time.
But unlike other breweries one of the things Campervan have going for them are the beers, and if you’d like to head along to sample them where they are made and chat to the guys whilst touring the brewery, the taproom is open 5pm – 10pm Friday and 2pm – 9pm every Saturday from now on. The brewery is located at Unit 4 Bonnington Business Centre, 112 Jane Street, Edinburgh, EH6 5HG – on the Bonnington Rd side of the jumble of small buildings that lie between it, Great Junction Street and Leith Walk. If you head down in the afternoon the guys have an arrangement with a nearby pizza restaurant and will deliver to the taproom. With so few brewery taps in Edinburgh, it’s a great addition to the city.