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Scots brewery aims to become ‘world’s biggest sour beer producer’ in new home



The facility is seven times the size of the brewery’s Portobello site, where co-founder Steven Smith-Hay and his team first became known for producing “weird and wonderful” flavour combinations including Strawberry Banana Milkshake, Raspberry Blueberry Bubblegum, Jaffa Cakes, and a hugely popular ‘Iron Brew’.

The Herald: Pictured: Vault City co-founder Steven Smith-HayPictured: Vault City co-founder Steven Smith-Hay (Image: Supplied)

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Smith-Hay said: “Our ambition is to be the biggest dedicated sour beer producer in the world. This new site will be instrumental in achieving that.

“Building a business without external investment is challenging, while the volatility of rental units and lease terms can make the future uncertain.

“It’s a big gamble wanting to grow a business in the current economy, but our amazing community reduced that risk by supporting our crowdfunder sale, helping raise the capital needed to buy the new site outright. 

“This is our forever home and it allows us to plan Vault City’s growth more strategically and effectively; we can expand our product output and grow our team while retaining our independence.” 

The Herald: Pictured: The new space is seven times the size of the brand's Portobello breweryPictured: The new space is seven times the size of the brand’s Portobello brewery (Image: Supplied)

The new space means that Vault City will now be able to produce more than 10 million litres of beer per year, an increase of more than eight million.

There’s also scope to expand this new facility by 20 times its current 34,000 sq ft site. 

Research conducted by Vault City last year revealed around a third (31%) of UK drinkers are more likely to be experimental when it comes to choosing drinks than they were before lockdown began in March 2020. 

This change in behaviour, not just in the UK but around the world, is part of what has driven Vault City’s growth from its humble beginnings in a Dundee kitchen in 2018. 

It was then that Smith-Hay left behind his nine-to-five as an IT consultant to pursue a passion for all things fermentation.

It’s now reported that more than a third of sour beers consumed in the UK are made by Vault City with the brewery passing a £5m turnover this year and export up by 62%.

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The new site will allow the firm to expand its global reach, exporting beer to its existing customers in Norway, France, Denmark, and Singapore, as well as new ones with USA and Canada identified as growth areas.  

It will also offer the opportunity to consolidate the brewery, lab, external storage site and fulfilment site and barrel store at the BioCampus location.

Smith-Hay continued: “Vault City is unlike most other breweries as we make mixed fermentation beers, with a live house culture.

“The condition and viability of this needs assessed on a daily basis in order to maintain the signature Vault City flavour profile. 

“We also need to monitor and test all the parameters of the liquid to uphold strict quality standards. 

“This is currently outsourced to a lab off site – bringing this on site into one place will be transformative.” 

The Herald: Pictured: The brewery will now be able to produce more than 10 million litres of beer per yearPictured: The brewery will now be able to produce more than 10 million litres of beer per year (Image: Supplied)

The first sour beers were created in Belgium in the early 18th century, with classic styles including Belgian Lambics, Gueuze, Flanders red ale, German Gose, and Berliner Weiss, although some of the fermentation techniques are understood to date far earlier.  

Vault City’s beers are designed to be more accessible, with flavours that are primarily fruit-focused.

Head of marketing, Richard Wardrop, previously explained: “Steven really saw an opportunity to appeal to people who are looking for an entry into craft beer rather than looking for more complex flavours you would find in Lambics or Saison beers,” he said.

“What we do seems to resonate with people who wouldn’t typically be beer drinkers.

“I like to joke that my wife, for example, would never order a pint of Tennent’s but she loves our Cloudy Lemonade.

“Our ratio of male to female drinkers is about 60% to 40% which is something that’s very interesting for our brand.

“Building a community of people who love those wacky, sour beers has helped us to remain independent and all of the support for the crowd funder was just amazing.

“We’re really excited for the future.”

For more information on Vault City, visit their website at

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