The Highlands Breweries
Until recent times in the Highlands, the brewing of beer was not very common but instead illicit stills for the making of malt whisky dominated the landscape. These crafty distillers hid in the heather covered hills and utilised a system of signals they had developed in order to avoid the Exciseman (tax man). The Highland Clearances then devasted the population and the landscape leaving mostly sheep (and sheep don't drink much whisky, or beer, for that matter).
An early contributor to the rise of brewing beer in the region was Aviemore Brewery founded by homebrewer Norman Swinton in 1996. In 2001, Cairngorm Brewery was established taking over the former business of both the Aviemore Brewery and Tomintoul Brewery. The Benleva Hotel at Drumnadrochit has long been a supporter of real ale and now has its own Loch Ness Brewery. On the Black Isle, two breweries are on the go, Black Isle Brewery at Old Allangrange, Munlochy, and relative new-comer Cromarty Brewing at Cromarty. David and Wilma Orr operate An Teallach Ale Company (est. 2002) near Dundonnell, and River Leven Ales has taken over the former Atlas Brewery building at Kinlochleven. The year 2007 saw the opening of two more small breweries in the region, Glenfinnan Brewery and Plockton Brewery. The Old Inn at Gairloch has been a strong supporter of real ale for over a decade and now has its own in-house brewery and work is well underway at Moray Brewery slated to open yet this year.