Scottish Brewing Archive
Celebrating 20 years of preserving Scottish brewing heritage
The Scottish Brewing Archive, founded in 1982, has extensive holdings of archives, photographs, and objects representing 120 companies and trade associations for the brewing, malting, and coopering industries - some dating back to the 18th century. From these resources there is scope to trace the transformation of the industry from the days when there were several hundred small breweries in towns and villages producing beer of very variable quality for local consumption and for export; through the industrialisation in the 19th century; technological and scientific developments such as the employment of chemists in breweries and modern "widgets"; changing beer styles; the threat from the Prohibitionist "pussyfoots" to the rationalisation and closures in the 1960s.
Edinburgh breweries like those of William Younger, Drybrough, and Campbell, Hope & King, became pre-eminent in 19th century Scotland, producing a variety of top quality ales which were in great demand at home and abroad. Ales such as strong Edinburgh Ales, porter, stouts, India Pale Ales, and even Pilsner, first brewed in Scotland by William Youngers in 1880. The archive has recipes dating back to 1744, often with strange ingredients - "cock ale" which had cooked chicken added for flavour, and "scurvy grass ale" which had senna and horseradish among its ingredients.
The breweries in Scotland's "Central Belt" exported all over the globe, particularly to the Americas, Caribbean, India, Africa, Australasia and the Far East, and Tennents of Glasgow became the largest exporter of bottled beer in the world. However, all was not straightforward as sometimes cargoes were damaged in transit, beer arriving in bad quality and only fit for vinegar. One of William Younger's cargoes was gnawed by rats.
The most popular aspect of the archive is its collection of 200 years of advertising history, from early press adverts to the colourful adverts of the 1930s, beer labels and the arrival of the jolly figures of Wee Murray, Father William, the Cavalier and of course, the delectable Lager Lovelies.
- The records of Gilcomston Brewery Co. include early partnership documents and correspondence about appointing agents in London.
- Meiklejohn's Bass Crest Brewery was founded in 1774, and came into dispute with the Burton-on-Trent brewers of a similar name.
- Alma Topen, Scottish Brewing Archive. Photographs courtesy Scottish Brewing Archive.
- Take a look at the descriptions held by the Archives Hub for the Scottish Brewing Archive by going to our search page and entering a keyword phrase search for scottish brewing archive. You can then add 'and' searches to this, e.g. you could search for camra.
- Scottish Brewing Archive
- Friends of the Scottish Brewing Archive
- Brewers' organisations: an online guide to records of brewers' organisations held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- The Brewery History Society: the society for all who are interested in the history of British breweries; the Society has its archive at Birmingham Central Library.
- Pub History Society: founded in 2001.
- International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
- BeerCans.org includes images of Tennents cans, with their "Lager Lovelies".
April 2002: Scottish Brewing Archive
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