Relax for a while at the top of Scotland
There's something brewing up north...
Sitting at the top of Scotland, by the rugged coast and long stretches of countryside, you might be surprised to discover a brewery. But here it is – Scotland’s most northerly mainland brewery. John O’Groats brewery will certainly have one of the best views of any other in the country. But how does its beer taste? Well, why not take a visit and find out first-hand?
Local beer makers in Scotland
We love shining a spotlight on local suppliers and here’s one for the beer lovers amongst us, John O’ Groats Brewery! At Mackays Hotel, we are biased towards a dram of locally distilled whisky! But really, what’s whisky without a refreshing beer beforehand? And our bar is always well-stocked with this local brewer, John o’ Groats Brewery beer. They are an artisan craft brewery, taking pride in the ingredients, the process, and the care that goes into every drink.
We had a much needed break for 4 nights last week at Mackays in Wick The decent sized apartment was perfect for us and our two dogs and it was warm, safe and an excellent base for exploring Caithness. The Hotel is very well organised with regard to Covid restrictions, but this does not spoil the warm and friendly atmosphere and the owners are superb hosts. Breakfast is really tasty and served efficiently and the food in the restaurant is impressive, best polished off with a local dram from the bar
Brewing at John O'Groats
And, if you are visiting Caithness and looking for things to do in John O’Groats, then a trip to the John O’Groats Brewery should definitely be on your list. That’s because it offers a great experience for everyone. Not only will you find out about their drinks, but you’ll also get a glimpse into the local history of the area. They are the only craft brewery in Caithness… and the most northerly brewery on mainland Britain!
Choose from a selection of stunning drinks
The brewery was started in 2015 and currently works out from the oldest house in John’O’Groats, called The Last House. It dates back to at least the 1700s. The building is known to have housed some of the descendants of Jan de Groot. He was the Dutchman who the village of John O’Groats is named after. And all their beer is nurtured via traditional methods and locally sourced ingredients, like our pure Highland water. This is important for the brewery as it means that there’s a piece of Caithness in every sip!
As well as a tour of how the beer is made, a visit to the brewery will let you explore a gift shop as well as a visit to the tasting room. Here you can enjoy a wide range of cask ales and bottled beers. You can also taste some spirits from other local creators. It’s a beautiful room to sit in and soak in the history and views.
The brewery’s first ale, the First Footing Golden Ale, is still a favourite. The First Footing Golden Ale is the perfect drink for an ale lover or someone that wants to try something beautifully blended. But there’s a great range of golden, amber, and blonde ales to choose from. An oatmeal stout such as Deep Groat would be our pick when it comes to stouts. The coffee and chocolate notes make it a great warming drink for a cold Scottish evening.
What takes your fancy?
Visitors can take an audio tour at the Visitor Centre to learn about the local history of Caithness and its brewing past. You’ll see the brewery itself and have the opportunity to try a range of ales in the Tasting Room. Then pick up something to take home at the Brewery Shop.
It is so refreshing to see a brewery valuing a handcrafted, small-scale process and you can really taste the difference. Discover more on the John O’ Groats Brewery website.
The start and end of the John O'Groats trail
A great place to start and fantastic location to end
The John O’Groats trail is a 147-mile walking experience that stretches from the brewery all the way down the coast to Inverness. It’s relatively new but gaining in popularity. It is marked here by a beautiful arch, and featured on the TV with none other than Ed the Duck’s celebrity sidekick, Andi Peters on Good Morning Britain.
Whilst having a beer at the start of the trek is perhaps not the wisest move, celebrating with a bottle of Golden Groat at the end is most definitely acceptable! The walk can be enjoyed in sections. However, a section with its own distillery must surely be an attractive proposition to many…
How to get there
It’s straightforward getting to the John O’Groats Brewery from Mackays Hotel. It is about a half-hour drive north on the A99. Along this gorgeous route you will pass places like Keiss Harbour and Bucholie Castle. These are worth a stopover at the very least.
And of course, when you get to John O’Groats, remember to get your photograph taken at the famous signpost!
Adventures in Caithness
There are many distilleries and breweries in the Highlands, and in our opinion, Caithness has some of the best. Exploring such attractions like the John O’Groats Brewery are great ways to spend a day in Scotland. And even if you don’t get to visit them all, when you return to Mackays we have a well-stocked bar that is sure to take you on a trip of Scotland’s brewing heritage. And you won’t have to move from your stool.