The founder of Dog Fall Brewing in Inverness is celebrating after production kicks off in his new commercial unit in the city centre.
Bob Masson and his wife, Louise, had been on the search for an upgraded production space for as long as two years before discovering their new unit on Lotland Place.
It is 120 square metres – nearly five times the size of their former premises, a 25-square-metre garage.
Officially gaining access to the unit on Friday September 9, it took the couple – along with the help of friends and family – around three months to relocate. Most of the work was done by them to keep costs under control.
They brewed their first batch of beer at Lotland Place on Wednesday December 8.
Not only will the unit allow them to quadruple their fermentation capacity, but Bob also has big plans in store that he hopes to commence in the new year.
Dog Falls Brewing is an independent brewery that was established over the course of 2018 and 2019, with its first beers being sold at the Inverness Farmers Market before Christmas in 2019.
To new beginnings – and more beer
“We brewed our first batch on December 7, which was the milestone we have been working toward for the last 12 or so weeks,” Bob, 41, said.
“The help we’ve received from my dad has been huge. Without his effort – and his seemingly endless positivity – we definitely wouldn’t be up and running at the new unit by now.
“It has been a period of long days, and nights, challenges, setbacks and steep learning curves; there is still a lot of work to do, but we have achieved a wild pile and are definitely over the hump now!”
The offerings include around eight or nine ‘core’ beers, plus one-off specials, collaborations, and barrel-aged beers.
Until recently, all brewing and packaging were carried out in the couple’s garage, along with “a couple of sheds”.
Bob went on to say: “We had just enough space in the garage for the brew kit plus three 500l fermenters which allowed us to produce around 20K litres of beer annually or just under 400 litres per week.”
The new Inverness unit has allowed the couple to add three new 1,500l fermenters that can handle three 500l batches of beer each at one time, quadrupling their fermentation capacity.
“Once we’re fully up and running we expect to be able to produce around 1,000 to 1,500 litres per week on average,” says Bob.
“Now our production capacity will only be restricted by how much beer I can make in the brewhouse.”
Tastings, street food, and live music
Not only will the extended space increase production, but it also opens up other windows of opportunity for the business.
It includes an upstairs area, which Bob, who grew up on the Black Isle, hopes to develop over time for events and tastings.
He said: “The new unit will give us the opportunity to invite people into the brewery for special events to share the beer fresh out of the tank.
“Down the line, we’d love to be able to get some live music on the go and work with great local street food vendors on a weekend here and there, but these are all just big ideas for the future.
“After the brewery is fully done and dusted, the next phase is to add a small retail area so customers can drop in past to pick up their beers for the weekend.
“Plus we have exciting plans to create a more relaxed, comfortable area on the mezzanine where we can host tastings and small events.”
‘A deeply challenging time for breweries’
While business is looking prosperous for Dog Falls Brewing in 2023, the business owner is urging people to support local as the brewing industry continues to face challenges.
He said: “There’s no doubt that 2023 will be an extremely difficult year for many small producers, and we are certainly not immune to those challenges, nor do we have the luxury of being able to ride this out.
“If there is ever a time to buy local, I suspect 2023 will truly be it; not through a sense of charity, however, but because as consumers, we are lucky enough to have some of the highest quality products in the world being made, grown, created – and brewed – right here on our doorstep in Inverness and the Highlands.”
Bob went on to thank everyone that has bought and enjoyed beers by Dog Falls Brewing over the years.
“We absolutely wouldn’t be here now without all of you, and we really appreciate the support we have received along the way!”
The bulk of the firm’s beer is available in and around Inverness and the Highlands either directly or through independent retailers, pubs, restaurants and cafes.