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How East Neuk of Fife brewers transformed an old oil rig into a new burger bar and beer garden

Owner Nick Fleming.
Owner Nick Fleming.

A small craft brewery will reveal its new beer garden next week to customers with a unique addition in tow.

The team behind Ovenstone 109 has recycled part of an old oil rig, giving it a new lease of life as a beer and burger bar.

As hospitality begins to reopen from Monday (April 26) hundreds of venues across the region will be welcoming customers back for the first time in four months.

And Nick Fleming, owner of the brewing firm in Anstruther, Fife, is looking forward to unleashing the new space to the public at the beginning of May.

The finished article.

Upcycling part of a former oil rig, the structure itself has a rich history with his family as it was actually built by Nick’s late father’s firm, Alval Engineering, in the early 1990s.

Finding a new home and a new purpose, it was originally used for drilling muds processing package.

The journey of oil rig to bar

Nick, who is a chemical engineer by trade, launched the brewery business three years ago and has now reworked the space outside it to create an “eatooterie”.

He and a friend, Gary Cromar, worked on the oil rig to convert into a bar, which will play a vital part in the business’s offering this summer.

He said: “My dad had an engineering firm called Alval Engineering which he started after university building all sorts of industrial things for food, pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries.

“The part of the rig which I now have originally held equipment that was used for processing drill cuttings in the North Sea.

“In around 1996 my dad branched out on his own and started Scott Process Technology Ltd with one of his colleagues. I got involved with the company after leaving university in 1998.

Renovations taking place.

“Roll on a few years (2003/04-ish) and Scott Process Technology gets involved with an Aberdeen company who deal with cleaning offshore equipment. Turns out they had bought the old Alval drill cuttings equipment and had got in contact to see if we could help.

“In 2011 the business bought the old tractor showroom that the brewery is now in to help us with bigger projects.

“We got asked to build equipment to process Omega-3 fish oil in Lewis and it turns out we needed the same kit that was in the drill cuttings equipment in Aberdeen.

“So, we went and found it, bought it and completely refurbished it and moved it to Lewis. The frame of the rig is left in the yard waiting to be scrapped.

Some of Ovenstone 109’s products.

“My dad was tragically killed in a motorsport accident when we were away working and I then took over the business.

“As my colleagues were mostly post-retirement age, they decided it would be a good time for them to go play more golf.

“I had to sell as much stuff as I could, re-work the business and then sell the buildings. Nobody wanted the buildings so, instead, I decided to use part of them to showcase my engineering skills and built a brewery.”

Building a brewery

And it was this brewery Nick built which he had initially planned to showcase his manufacturing and engineering skills that ended up being the business he runs today.

He added: “I hadn’t built a brewery never mind brewed before and I thought at the worst I might sell a few bottles and gain some engineering business. The frame was still in the back rotting away no one would scrap it because scrap prices were so low.

“Covid-19 turns up and we knew we needed an outside means of selling beer. My old friend, Gary Cromar, who I have worked with on and off and was employed by my dad helped me renovate it all.”

The Ovenstone 109 brewery.

Nick said he and the team are very much looking forward to welcoming customers to their new space.

The small craft brewery also supplies a range of local pubs and shops, including Ardross Farm Shop, which featured on Gordon, Gino and Fred this week, and Balgove as well as a few other bistros and local shops.

He said: “During lockdown we have been running a very successful, free, local delivery service and we supply beer in refillable growlers which, apart from being very environmentally friendly, have proved to be a big hit.

A close up of the kitchen area in the converted oil rig structure.

“However, as with all things Covid-19, we have had to diversify a little and have created our own beer garden which we will be opening at the beginning of May.

“The brewery is right next to a privately owned reservoir which we have access to. We also have lots of parking space and the ace up our sleeve is that it’s a very picturesque place to have a beer. Our ‘eatooterie’ will be making burgers and chips as well as tea and coffee. We’re child-friendly as our licence allows children to be here.”

For more on beer gardens…