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Pilot co-founders Matt Johnson and Pat Jones don’t do things by halves.
The pair met in 2011 while studying brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University. Within 18 months of graduating they’d bought a second-hand brewhouse, dismantled it, rebuilt it themselves in Leith – and begun producing top-quality new-age craft beer.
Pilot’s stylish logo, artwork and website is all their own work, too.
And the brewery’s hilarious social media posts have become almost as famous as their beer. “I just tweet whatever comes into my head,” Pat says. “So far it hasn’t got us into trouble.”
All that hard work has paid off. In 2018, production moved to a bigger site at Stewartfield. In 2020, Pilot opened a wee shop next to its production line to keep up sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pilot Blond and Vienna Pale are the cornerstones of the brewery’s output, but one-offs and seasonal specials roll off its canning line at a furious rate.
There’s a fruit sour called Idris Melba, a Lime and Black Pepper Gose, and a North Sea Stout balanced with “actual salty North Sea water, foraged by Matt’s kids with buckets”.
“It’s really whatever we fancy,” Pat says. “If it seems like a good idea, we give it a shot.”
“We are the first and the biggest of the new generation of brewers in Leith, the first of the new gang,” he adds.
“We should be proud of ourselves, I suppose, but we don’t really get time to step back.
“Most of the time we are in amongst it - fixing something, planning something.
“Not taking the easy road runs through everything we do.”