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Scottish Brewing Archive

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Q. I know there was a Scottish Brewing Archive at Heriot-Watt University. Is yours a different one?

No, it is the same. The archive moved to Glasgow University in October 1991 as Heriot-Watt University no longer had the space to store the records.

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Q. Who can use the Scottish Brewing Archive?

The SBA is open to the public. However, some records are closed for commercial reasons or for personnel confidentiality. The collections are used for local history, family history, economic and social history, research for props for TV, theatre and film companies.

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Q. What are the opening hours?

The SBA is managed by Glasgow University Archive Services. See the visitor services section of the new Archive Services website for further information about opening hours and planning a visit to the searchroom.

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Q. My grandfather worked in a whisky distillery. Can you find any records relating to him?

No. The SBA holds records relating to companies that made beer, not whisky.

There are records of whisky firms at Glasgow University Archive Services. See also:

Chivas Archive Centre
The Manager
The Brands Heritage Centre
Strathisla Distillery
Keith, AB55 5BS
Tel: 01542 783042

The Archive
Glenochil House
FK11 7ES
Tel: O1259 766886
Fax: O1259 766888

John Dewar & Sons Ltd
Jacqueline Seargeant
1700 London Road
Glasgow G32.
Tel: O141 551 4000
URL: A web site is in preparation.

See also the book The Making of Scotch Whisky by John Hume and Michael Moss, published in 1981 by James & James. This has information on the history of the industry in Scotland and also brief histories of all the distilleries in Scotland since the 1700s.

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Q. My surname is McEwan and the family tradition is that we are descended from William McEwan the Edinburgh brewer.

This is unlikely. McEwan is a very common Scottish surname. William McEwan married Helen Anderson in 1885, when he was 58, and gained a step-daughter, Margaret Helen Anderson. She married Ronald Greville but they did not have any children. She died in 1942. William McEwan's brothers, Peter and John, died unmarried. His sister Anne also never married. His other sister Janet married James Younger, an Alloa brewer, and they did have children. William McEwan took his nephew William Younger into the business and he became Managing Director. There is further information about recently discovered letters written to William McEwan.

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Q. One of my ancestors worked in a Scottish brewery. Do you have employment records?

We are happy to answer family–history related inquiries at the SBA, although we hold relatively few employment records and we may not be able to assist you. If you wish to find out more about an ancestor, and know his occupation and the brewery where he (or she) worked, then you may be able to find out more by using the services at ScotlandsPeople or by consulting a specialist genealogy research service such as Thistle Heritage.

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Q. My great grandfather worked in a brewery in London, do you have any records of his employment?

No. We do not have records for English breweries. Try Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton’s, The Brewing Industry, A guide to historical records, (1990, Manchester University Press). This book has brief histories of British breweries and gives the location of company archives.

English breweries with their own archivists are:

The Bass Archives
Coors Visitor Centre and Museum of Brewing
Horninglow Street
Derbyshire DE14 1JZ

Courage Archive
Dr Ken Thomas
Courage Archive
c/o CPF
Portview Road
Bristol BS11 9LD
Tel: 07939 913512

Guinness Brewing (GB)
Guinness Brewing (GB)
Park Royal Brewery
London NW10 7RR

Young & Co.’s Brewery plc
The Archivist
The Ram Brewery
London SW18 4JD

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Q. Do you have a list of contact information for Scottish breweries and pub breweries?

You can find addresses and other contact details on The Directory of UK Real Ale Breweries’ website, at

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Q. Do you hold any records relating to the temperance movement?

We have several collections with relevant material. I have provided a temperance and anti-temperance subject source list.

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Q. Do you have a list of all periodicals you hold?

Yes. There is a periodical subject source list available on this website.

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Q. Do you have any text books on brewing published before 1850?

There are a number of significant early books on brewing in the SBA library. A list of these has been extracted from the library database. The SBA library catalogue numbers are on the left. The volumes can be consulted in the searchroom at Glasgow University Archives. See the brewing publications before 1850 subject source list available on this website.

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Q. I am doing a history project on brewing. Can you give me the titles of books on the general history of brewing in Britain?
A. Here is a list of useful brewing publications:
  • Bennison, B. R., Brewers and Bottlers of Newcastle from 1850 to the Present Day, Newcastle upon Tyne City Libraries & Arts: Newcastle, 1995. *
    ISBN 1-85795-0127
  • Bickerdyke, J., The Curiosities of Ale and Beer, an Entertaining History, Field & Tuer: London, 1886. *
  • Dallas J. and McMaster C., The Beer Drinker’s Companion, Facts, Fables and Folklore from the World of Beer. The Edinburgh Publishing Co Ltd: Edinburgh, 1993. *
    ISBN 1-872401-14-5
  • Donnachie, I., A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland. John Donald, Edinburgh, 1998. *
    ISBN 0-84976-496-6
  • Glover, B., Prince of Ales: The History of Brewing In Wales. Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud, 1993. *
    ISBN 0-7509-0331-7
  • Gutzke, D. W., Alcohol in the British Isles from Roman Times to 1996: An Annotated Bibliography. Greenwood Press, Connecticut, 1996. *
    ISBN 0-313-29420-8
  • Gourvish, T. R. & Wilson, R. G., The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994. *
    ISBN 0-521-45232-5
  • McMaster, C., "Beer - a Proud Tradition", Chambers Scottish Drink Book. W. & R. Chambers, Edinburgh, 1990. *
    ISBN 0-550-20003-7
  • McMaster, C., Alloa Ale: A History of the Brewing Industry in Alloa. Alloa Brewery Co Ltd, Edinburgh, 1984. *
  • Mathias, P., The Brewing Industry in England 1700-1830. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1959. *
  • Sambrook, P., Country House Brewing in England, 1500-1900. Hambledon Press, London, 1996.
    ISBN 1-85285-127-9
  • Williams, G. P. & Brake, G. T., Drink in Great Britain, 1900-1979. B Edsall & Co Ltd, London, 1980. *
    ISBN 0-902623-26-5
 *  copies available in Scottish Brewing Archive library

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Q. I am interested in collecting brewery memorabilia - bottles, labels, mats, cans, badges etc. Is there a society I can join?

Yes. Please consult the list of societies that may be of interest to you. Other brewery related websites include the World of Beer.

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Q. What’s it worth?

We do not do valuations. You should ask an antique dealer or a specialist collectors’ society (see list of societies) e.g. British Brewery Beer Can Collectors Society, Association of British Beer Bottle Collectors. Also check out internet sites advertising breweriana, e.g.

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Q. Do you have the records of the Incorporation of Maltmen of Glasgow?

No. The archives of the Incorporation are at Glasgow City Archives. Please go to Incorporation of Maltmen of Glasgow for more information.

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Q. Can you tell me the names of breweries in Alloa?

Yes. I have created a separate Alloa Breweries FAQ page due to the amount of information.