CHEERS – Inverness is to get its very own brewery and visitor centre.
And the multi-million pound development is set to create at least 12 new jobs in the city as well as offering a world class tourist attraction.
Behind the scheme are Jon and Victoria Erasmus who have owned the Glen Mhor Hotel and Apartments on Ness Bank since 2006, as well as being involved in a number of hotel and lesiure businesses across Scotland.
They have been working since 2012 on a proposal to develop the riverside gap site situated between eight and 10 Ness Bank, and running from Haugh Road to Ness Bank.
Historically brewing had taken place in the Haugh area of the city since the 1700s and they feel the time is right to restore the brewing tradition to this area again.
Jon (41), told the HN: "I have been tinkering about the brewery project for five or six years, but obviously with the constraints of the economy we have had to put things off for some time.
"We feel now that the economy is right for this and now is the time to strike."
Colin Armstrong Chartered Architects has been commissioned to design a building to house the brewery and visitor attraction.
Their brief is to deliver an architectural statement that fitted into the Ness Bank conservation area while being environmentally friendly and at the forefront of 21st century technology. The building will be fitted with both solar and biomass energy and the most energy efficient brewery available
After extensive travel to view manufacturers and concepts the developers say it is likely that Kaspar Schulz, market leaders in brewing technology, will supply a fully automated and customised state- of-the-art German brewing plant to allow manufacturing to the highest standards.
Jon says they hope to lodge a planning application as soon as possible and have permission for the project agreed within two to three months.
"We hope to start building some time in 2015, probably in the autumn, if everything goes to plan," he said. "We are looking at a range of five or six seasonal mainline beers and lagers through the year. Coupling leading German technology with the best Scottish ingredients, we believe we can brew world class Highland beers.
"We are looking at high class, world standard brewing. We want to set a bench mark to show what Scottish ingredients can produce and what Inverness and the Highlands can produce. We really want to put the place on the map."
He would not be drawn on the cost of the project, but confirmed it would be "a multi-million pounds investment".
"We see this as a wonderful thing for Inverness city," he added. "It is a truly international type project.
"I think it is the biggest type of visitor experience that has ever been attempted in Inverness. I do not think there is anything to rival it in Scotland."