Pilot Beer opens new shop as lockdown restrictions ease across the country

The Leith brewery have opened a new shop, selling beers from a hatch, as lockdown restrictions have eased.  

Published 17th Aug 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

A popular Leith brewery, Pilot Beer, has set up a new shop next to its production line to sell its latest brews and products from other fellow traders in the area.

Despite the challenging time Covid-19 has presented for businesses, Pilot Beer, in Stewartfield, has taken up the opportunity to reach customers in an alternative way to the pub by opening a store.

"It’s been an idea in the pipeline for a while,” said Pat Jones, one of the co-founders, “but we just never got round to setting it up until now because we were always busy enough making the beer itself.

"I mean, the timing is a little odd obviously because businesses are really struggling at the moment with the pandemic going on, but it’s another way to get our beers out there.”

In cooperation with neighbour business Trinity Glazing, Pat and co-owner Matt Johnson carved a new window into the brewery which will be the new Pilot shop.

Large menus will posted on the wall outside for customers to browse before choosing whichever beverages takes their fancy.

All sales will be done from the new window, keeping in line with the recent social distancing guidelines.

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“It’s not a shop that you can walk around in, yet,” said Pat.

"That will change depending on the government restrictions, but for now people can buy from the shop through the window.

"It will be great when we can start letting people come in because while it’s an industrial spot, we’ve managed to turn it into a really nice wee space for selling our beers and other local brews.”

The brewer said Pilot took a massive hit when pubs were forced to close back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"About 80 per cent of our sales were to bars and pubs, so when lockdown happened we really had to think on our feet,” Pat said.

"We never paid any attention to the web shop and a physical shop, but with everything closing they became a huge focus.

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"Thanks to the help of MSPs, including Ben McPherson, we managed to fast track getting a licence to sell our beers to the public which was a significant step we had to take before setting up sales on the web and from the premise.”

Various Pilot brews will be available to buy from the brewery’s new window shop along with products from Leith-based Element Wines, Electric Spirit and Port o Leith distillery, and others from Sweetdram, based in Sighthill.

MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith Mr McPherson said: “There are some remarkable food and drinks companies in Leith and Pilot Beer is certainly one of them.

"Through this challenging time, I’ve been proud to work with Pilot Beer, as their local MSP, to support them as much as I can. It has been great to see Pilot Beer grow and succeed over recent years, and persevere through this pandemic, and I wish them all the best with the opening of their new shop.

"We can all play our part in supporting remarkable Scottish companies at the moment like Pilot Beer, by shopping local, eating local and drinking local.”

Opening times

Customers are welcome at the shop from Saturday 15 August from 10am until 5pm.

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The window will then be open every Monday to Saturday.

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