One of Edinburgh’s most iconic beer brands, brewed originally in the 19th century and extremely popular during the 20th century, will be resurrected today, some 33 years after its last batch was brewed.
The first pint of Usher’s Beer to be pulled from a beer pump in almost half a century will be expertly supped by Stuart Usher, one of the few remaining descendants of the Usher family, on the very site in Edinburgh where his forefathers grew up.
Usher’s Brewery was founded by Andrew Usher’s sons, James and Thomas, in Merchant Street, Edinburgh in 1831. At its height in 1976, the company employed 2500 people and operated 235 tied public houses.
Now Perth-based craft beer maker Inveralmond Brewery has joined forces with Caledonian Heritable to resurrect what was one of Scotland’s leading beer brands, installing a microbrewery at Ushers of Edinburgh, nestled in the basement of Pear Tree House, the 18th century mansion on the Southside’s West Nicolson Street that was once home to the Usher family. A much anticipated first brew has been expertly crafted this week, and the first pint set to be pulled on Friday 12 December 2014, 183 years after the original brewery was founded.
Fergus Clark, managing director of Inveralmond Brewery commented.
“This is very much an historic moment for us as a brewery. Every day we put passion and expertise into crafting beer, but to revive one of Scotland’s most iconic beer brands is just an exceptional moment in time as beer makers. We are very proud of our team today, from those who installed the micro-brewery in Usher’s of Edinburgh, to the brewer, to the person who pours the first pint. We are all part of reviving history, and that’s not something you can say every day but it also much more than this. It is also about the opportunity to create and craft new beers for an ever more discerning public.”
Using equipment made by James Sampson at Borders-based Scotia Welding & Fabrication, the micro-brewery is visible in the pub, which is already very supportive of the craft beer market and specialist ales, and adds to the atmosphere. The aim in time is to give patrons the chance to brew their own beers and try out different recipes.
Paul Hastie, area manager at Caledonian Heritable, said:
“Usher’s is a key part of Edinburgh’s brewing heritage and so we’re very excited to be reviving the brand and bring brewing back to this part of the city. We have such a rich history when it comes to beer, we’re just delighted to be keeping the Usher’s family story and drinks heritage alive.”
Stuart Usher, who runs historical walking tours around the Scottish capital, said:
“The brewery was started by James Usher and then Thomas Usher, his brother, was brought into the firm. He was ultimately the brains behind it and was very successful. There is a real sense of occasion around this moment today for me. It has been many years since I have had a pint of Usher’s, but to do it in the building that my ancestors – and the founders of the brewery – grew up in, now that’s special.”
For many Edinburgh residents, the name Usher will be a familiar one. The city was ultimately shaped by the commercial activities of the Usher family and today The Usher Hall stands proudly at the heart of the city as the family’s legacy to the town. Philanthropically gifted to the citizens of Edinburgh by way of a £100,000 donation by Andrew Usher, a man credited as the “inventor” of blended whisky, to build a “city hall” from a personal wealth accumulated mainly by income from the whisky trade.
Now, less than a mile from its imposing front doors, a pint is being pulled that is proof that the Usher’s drinks brand will make its mark on the 21st century as well.