Borders brewery expansion set to create jobs

Born in the Borders boss John Henderson.
Born in the Borders boss John Henderson.

Lanton Mill’s Born in the Borders Brewery is lining up a £250,000 expansion set to create three jobs.

The business, founded in 2011, is installing a new bottling plant to enable it to keep pace with demand from supermarkets and other off-licences .

The new plant, imported from Italy, will be capable of processing 1,000 bottles of various sizes an hour, vastly increasing productivity at the brewery and visitor centre near Jedburgh.

It is expected to be up and running by Christmas.

The award-winning brewery uses barley grown in the fields surrounding it on the 1,800-acre Chesters Estate to produce beers such as Foxy Blonde, Game Bird, Holy Cow, Dark Horse, Flower of Scotland and Gold Dust.

At the moment, though, it has to send its beer south of the border to Cockermouth in Cumbria for bottling, flying in the face of its commitment to use local ingredients and services as much as it can, what it bills as a plough-to-pint ethos.

“Up until now, we’ve had to outsource our bottling, which always went against our aim of keeping everything in-house,” said owner John Henderson.

“The arrival of the new bottling line signals a step-change in our ambitions and lets us keep every part of the process in the Teviot Valley, where we are based.”

With new whisky distilleries in Hawick and Camptown on the way, the first of any size here for almost 180 years, and the smaller-scale Lilliard Gin distillery already based at the Lanton Mill site, the south of the region is set to become a production hub for the alcoholic drink industry, and that will yield sizeable dividends for the Borders, believes John.

“It’s no great surprise really,” he said.

“We’ve got the most incredible cereals and the most amazing water, and it was only a matter of time before people worked that out.

“The economic benefits to the region will only increase as these new businesses come on-stream, and that should be a huge boon to the area.”

His company, originally known as the Scottish Borders Brewery but renamed in 2015 following the success of the £500,000 Born in the Borders visitor centre it opened the year before, employs 30 staff across its various sites, also including outlets in Tweedbank railway station and Galashiels transport interchange, plus the Ancrum Cross Keys pub.

Five of those are responsible for its beer output of between 10,000 and 15,000 pints a week, but that is about to go up to eight, taking its total workforce to 33.

About a fifth of its beer production goes into bottles at the moment, but John is hoping to more than double that to meet demand from retailers at home and abroad and increase its £1m annual turnover.

“About 20% goes into bottles, but we are looking to increase capacity and change that mix to 50-50,” he said.

The company has won numerous accolades over the course of its seven-year history, the most recent being two medals at the Society of Independent Brewers’ Scottish Awards last month.

Those latest prizes were a bronze for its Rebel Yell in the class for small-pack standard bitters and pale ales and another for Gold Dust in the cask best bitters and pale ales category.