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Jump Ship Brewing's Sonja Mitchell tells us about her day creating alcohol-free beer

This business owner is at the helm of a busy start-up

Published: March 7, 2023


While I aspire to meditation and yoga followed by a wholesome breakfast, the reality is a flurry of school bags, forgotten homework and cereal before we all spill out the house on the school run.


I’m settled with laptop and coffee. I keep myself organised with my trusty notebook, working through the to-do list and highlighting my top three priorities for the day. We’re currently in a temporary office set up while we wait for access to our new brewery site.


Pete, our head brewer, has set up a small test brew kit out the back. At the moment we’re working on our summer beer release, a fruited sour. Pete’s experimenting with adding berries at different points in the brew so the table is covered with glasses full of varying shades of pink liquid.


There’s normally at least one dog in the office, which is the perfect excuse to chuck around a ball on the grass outside. Pete has a Jack Russell and I have a Labrador, so it’s chaos. I then spend time finalising the job description for our new Head of Sales. It will be the third full time role in our small team and I’m excited. I email Jenny, my sales guru, to make sure I get the wording right.

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Lunch is soup. Then I’m into the car for a 30 minute drive to our new Pathhead brewery. As I leave the Edinburgh bypass, I can’t help feeling a flutter of excitement. There are ups and downs in the start-up journey, and making concrete plans to take on our production is one of the biggest highs. I’ve remembered the bottle to take a sample of the water supply to get it tested. The mineral content can have quite a big impact on the flavour and quality of the beer. We’re lucky in Scotland that the water tends to be soft, creating the perfect base, and I’m expecting the water here to be the same.

We take a few photographs to share on social media. We’re coming to the end of a successful equity crowdfund and bringing on board a new crew of investors who’ve backed us. I want to bring our plans to life for them.


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Back to Edinburgh. A few checks to make sure we’ve shipped our latest customer orders, chase and pay some invoices, and then I’ll schedule social media posts. My phone is buzzing on the latest Deposit Returns Scheme producers’ Whatsapp chat. It’s reassuring to feel connected as we try to get a handle on the complexities and challenges presented by the scheme, and get our voices heard by those in government.


It’s home to get the kids’ tea, take my eldest to swim training, and be back in time for my youngest’s bedtime story. I cook a roast veggie and halloumi tray bake or noodle stir-fry. Dinner is the one time that I can have a proper catch up with my husband, he’s somewhat long suffering when it comes to beer chat, and is my sounding board. There’s no time for TV, but I read a few pages of my book before dropping off.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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