The bonnie banks of Loch Lomond – the largest freshwater lake in Britain by surface area – rise to dozens of rolling peaks, up and down, and into the horizon. It’s a place for adventures, for hiking and biking, climbing and kayaking, where summer evenings seem to last forever, and the deep greens of July turn to reds and yellows in October, then white snow-caps through winter. Even in the rain this place is beautiful, though perhaps better enjoyed through the window of the pub, with a pint a local Loch Lomond Brewery beer.


“We started homebrewing in the house, in the kitchen, just making beer for fun,” says Fiona Maceachern, co-owner of Loch Lomond Brewery along with husband Euan. He wanted to learn more so he took a brewing course, encouraging Fiona to do the same, which she did in early 2011. Before the end of the year, Fiona had quit her job and they’d started their brewery.

Inside Loch Lomond Brewery with Crisp Malt brewing malt sacksWith three young children and busy jobs, the brewery was their way of getting a better life balance and to have more time with their family. Euan continued working as a civil engineer and during the week Fiona managed all the brewery sales, deliveries, racking and cleaning, and on Saturday they brewed together. He is now full time in the brewery, and they’ve since moved into a larger location with a bigger brewhouse to keep up with the demand for their beer.

For almost 10 years, Fiona and Euan have brewed with Crisp malt. “Initially I chose Crisp because they have a huge range of malts,” says Fiona. “It was fantastic news when their bagging line was installed up here. The fact we’re a Scottish brewery, we want what’s closest to us, whatever that is. To be able to say you have Scottish malts is a big deal to us.”

And it’s going to become a bigger deal as Loch Lomond move to bulk malt deliveries, with all their base malt grown and malted in Scotland. Having eight pallets of 25kg sacks – eight tonnes of grain – driven to the brewery every week from England was no longer practical. It’ll now be coming from 40 miles away, a decision as much about quality as sustainability and reduction in carbon footprint.

“Where we are, it’s is all about the beauty, all about the Loch,” says Fiona. “It’s about keeping impact on the environment to a minimum. We have to be 100% sure that there’s nothing going down the drain that we’re not happy with. We recycle as much as possible; and our spent grain goes to local farmers. The amount of waste that we have is a fraction of what it was, despite being several times larger than we were 10 years ago.”

With the bulk malt silo, Crisp continues to be an important part of Loch Lomond’s beers, and it’s a connection which goes beyond the grain.

“The most important beer for us to trial it with was Silkie Stout. It’s the beer that says the most about the malts we use. It has so many different malts in there. It’s got coloured malts, it’s got oats: it’s just a huge beer with lots and lots of flavour in it.”


“At one point I was a one-woman band,” says Fiona, who was brewing once a week, “and every day was rigid in terms of what I could do.”

If the schedule said brewing, she had to brew – or a week of production and sales would be skipped. So on the occasion, the delivery lorry was unable to get to them in time, Crisp’s sales team understood the implications to the business and somehow found a way of getting grain to Loch Lomond. This was at a time the brewery was ordering one pallet of grain to last a few weeks.

“Somebody was here the following day, at eight in the morning, with my malt,” says Fiona. “It was above and beyond, because they knew how tight things were initially.” Now the brewery is ordering up to eight pallets a week and, “there’s no difference in the service received when we were small to the service we receive now,” she says.

Crisp Malt are also always there for advice. “If we’ve pointed out that there’s anything we’re not sure about, they will always look into it, always investigate, and always come back to us,” she says. “Nothing is ever a hassle.”

Transitioning from homebrewing into a commercial brewhouse isn’t as simple as multiplying up recipes. Moving on to much bigger production, means being absolutely sure that everything is going to work, or there’s a risk having to throw away much larger batches of beer.

“There’ve been a couple of times when we’ve said to Crisp: This is what we want to do: do you think this is going to work?” With brewers like Carl Heron, the craft brewery sales manager, on the team, there’s someone with lots of experience to answer those questions. “Carl was always on hand to say ‘yes, that’s definitely right,’ or ‘maybe try tweaking this or tweaking that.’”

Having brewers as part of the team is a really important part of the service Crisp offers.

“It’s been a wonderful journey for Fiona and Euan,” says Carl, who moved from brewing and production into sales when he joined Crisp.  Loch Lomond was one of the first breweries he supplied.

“We had a lot of chats about beer styles and brewing. That gave them a better understanding of why certain things happened at certain times,” he says. One initial issue he remembers was with getting low extract from their mash. “I went into the brewery, spent about half a day going through brew sheets, trying to work out what was happening,” he says. “It was a combination of liquor-to-grist ratios, temperatures and sparge. We optimised that to resolve everything.”

Carl and Fiona both use the word ‘confidence’ when talking about the support from Crisp – it gave them reassurance that they were doing things right.

“They were making better and better beers, winning competitions, and it was really, really good to be a part of that, supporting them both technically and with the malt,” says Carl. “It’s about that partnership. It’s always about helping customers make the best possible beer.”

Loch Lomond Brewery ran brewing trials before moving to Scottish-grown base malt, “The most important beer for us to trial it with was Silkie Stout,” says Fiona about Loch Lomond’s famous 5% ABV Oatmeal Stout. “It’s the beer that says the most about the malts we use. It has so many different malts in there. It’s got coloured malts, it’s got oats: it’s just a huge beer with lots and lots of flavour in it.”

Silkie Stout uses a recipe which hasn’t changed since day one, and it’s also Fiona’s favourite beer. As part of the process of changing base malts, Loch Lomond sent the beer to Crisp to do their own taste test. “They, like us, wouldn’t have told the difference,” says Fiona who reiterates how happy they are with the Scottish malt.

It’s all about the grain: we want to use the right blend of malts, with the right yeast, to get the right flavour. It’s always about flavour in the finished product.


In 2021, Loch Lomond celebrate 10 years of brewing and through that time Fiona, Euan and their team have seen large changes and evolutions in the beer industry. “We’ve managed to ebb and flow,” she says. “We went from being a traditional cask brewer to doing kegs and cans.” They added new beer styles to reflect the changing tastes of drinking from traditional bitters to modern IPAs – and their flexible approach has helped them succeed.

Now alongside their luscious Silkie Stout, there’s the easy-drinking Bonnie & Blonde and a hoppy American Pale Ale called Southern Summit. There’s increasing interest in unfiltered Hazy IPAs, which use a lot of oats and wheat in their recipes, and they also make a few great lagers. They won Best Pilsner at the Scottish Beer Awards in 2020, which helped towards their Brewery of the Year title. It adds to their significant collection of beer awards. And 2021 is going to see some new beers coming.

Loch Lomond Brewery, Scotland | Carl Heron from Crisp Malt inspects the mash“One of the best things about brewing is making a new recipe, making a new style, coming up with names and labels,” says Fiona. But in 2020, Loch Lomond were able to brew a few new beers, a session New England IPA, Zoom Time, and two collab brews, a New Zealand Pilsner called Safesurfer with Yeastie Boys and a Black IPA called Black Rain with Salt Beer Factory.

“We decided last year had been lacking in fun, so to do a collaboration would be great,” she says, “and then we decided, well it’s our 10th birthday, why don’t we do 10?”

Throughout 2021, Loch Lomond are brewing and releasing 10 celebratory collaboration beers, pairing up with brewers who are particularly good at styles which Loch Lomond don’t typically brew.

There’s a Triple Kveik IPA with Polly’s Brew Co; a barrel-aged Barley Wine with Trinity Brew Co; a Cherry Saison with Ride Brewing Co; a Scottish Tablet Imperial Stout with Atom; a Belgian-style IPA with Yeastie Boys; a strong Raspberry Sour with Alpha Delta; a Triple Milkshake IPA with Old Street Brewery; a Quad Black IPA with Heist Brew Co; a Double Black Sour IPA with Full Circle Brew Co; and a barrel-aged Scotch Ale with Salt Beer Factory.

For the Scotch Ale, Loch Lomond used Crisp’s Chevallier Heritage malt for the first time. “We decided that Scotch Ale would be the style that would allow the malt to sing most,” says Fiona. The beer will be barrel-aged until it’s released later in 2021 and already the brewers are excited: “The orange flavour coming off the malt was just superb,” says Fiona. Carl travelled up to the brewery to help out with the beer, and see how the Chevallier malt worked for them.

Alongside celebrating a 10th birthday for the brewery, Loch Lomond plan to start distilling, making their own grain neutral spirit using a variety of Crisp’s malt. “It’s going to be about how much flavour we can get into [the grain neutral spirit],” she says, and like brewing beer, “it’s all about the grain: we want to use the right blend of malts, with the right yeast, to get the right flavour. It’s always about flavour in the finished product.”

Loch Lomond’s dedication to quality, flavour, sustainability and doing what’s best for their local area, their family, and their team, continues to help guide them.

Sacks of Crisp malt have been a feature of the brewery for almost a decade, and now those sacks will be joined by a silo of Scottish-grown barley, strengthening the relationship between the brewery and its location, and the brewers, maltsters and farmers.

Whether it’s having a pint of refreshing Bonnie & Blonde on a warm summer day after hiking a Munro or sitting by a fire on a winter’s evening with a Silkie Stout, these are beers of a place. They suit and celebrate their location and local ingredients, while also embracing the best of modern craft brewing. All from the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

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