Newsletter No.50

1. Chairman’s Statement :

A Happy New Year to one and all and I hope you had a good Christmas.
The last two years have proved to be difficult, however we start 2022 with more optimism than last year at this time, mainly as a result of the COVID vaccine rollout.
At the AGM held in November we prepared a list of possible activities for this year, however this was before the Omicron variant took a hold. As a result, I think it would be unwise to confirm many of the suggestions at this moment, however we will review the situation before the next Newsletter in April and inform you of our plans, agreed by the committee.
Under difficult circumstances the SBAA did make good progress last year. We did hold a brewery heritage walk and the AGM with Keith Lugton (Seen below Left) receiving a gift from the Secretary for his post meeting talk “Brewing- The History, The Science, The Art”.

We also continued with great articles that appeared in our quarterly Newsletter and annual Journal. Many thanks go to Ivor and Robbie for their sterling efforts regarding these. In fact the Journal was a bumper issue, the largest the SBAA has issued with eight articles covering 91 pages.

Thanks also go to our members who have made contributions with suggestions and great articles. Long may this continue.

If you have any ideas or articles for the coming year please get in touch, it will be great to hear from you. The SBAA needs your continuing support.

You will be informed later this month of a new website password to access past copies of the Newsletters and Journals.

Take care and keep safe.

2. Arrol of Alloa a discovery by Jake Beatson

I spent the early years of my childhood in Alloa, a town in the “Wee Coonty” that was very different in the late fifties to what it has become today. A bustling and prosperous small industrial town, steeped in brewing and bottle making, we still had horse-drawn drays delivering beer in wooden barrels, and the air was full of the heady aroma of the brew. The photo is from an even earlier era, helpfully covering both date and location. The original is a large sepia print, discovered in a leather suitcase of my grandmother’s paraphernalia and is marked “Mrs Forsyth” in pencil on the rear. That would be my great grandmother, who, from post cards discovered in the same suitcase, lived within easy walking distance of Alloa Brewery, in a cottage on Whins Road. I assume she worked there, and will be one of the few women featured, although I have no way of knowing which one she might be.

Thanks to some helpful local historians in the Auld Clackmannanshire group, the probable location of the photo has been established, at the end of a railway siding that served the Brewery at the time.

The siding is shown in at least two maps from the late 19th century, splitting into two in the later one, and leads to the Devon Valley section of the steam railway.


The brewery employees are shown with their tools of the trade, and it would be interesting to see how many are recognised today. The photo title(Arch.Arrol&Sons, Alloa Brewery, Alloa 27 April 1893) is printed onto what I first thought was a barrel, but it’s supported by a handle, and looks more like a bodhran: on the right sits a man who seems to have brought his fishing rod, sitting next to a bearded fellow holding a bottle of XX. There’s plenty more to see if you dig into this little piece of history.
Jake Beatson

If you have any comments, observations or further information on this image, we would like to hear from you. Please contact the Secretary


3. Edinburgh’s Brewing Heritage

The Central Library have a website titled Our Town Stories that highlights many interesting articles on the history of Edinburgh that cover City Life, Health & Education, Industry & Technology, Leisure Time, People and Places.

Recently the Central Library asked the SBAA to provide information on the history of brewing in Edinburgh.

Please click on the link that will take you to the website featuring brewing in Edinburgh but also many other interesting aspects of Edinburgh’s history.

4. McEwan’s bottle discovered

The SBAA received an enquiry asking if we could provide a date of an old bottle of McEwan’s. see images.

The bottle was recently found partially buried in boggy ground in a garden in Argyll.
If anyone can provide any information and an approximate date when produced, that would be great.

5. Beware of the “Expert” !

One evening last year I was watching , in the company of my Wife , an episode of the BBC programme Antiques Road Show when the mystery object above appeared. I immediately told my wife they were “malt scissors” and explained that you fill it with malt grains and cut them in half to let you see the extent of modification in the endosperm. I think she was impressed. However , it lasted seconds. The Antiques Road Show “EXPERT” confidently announced that it was tool for making medicinal pills. My credibility was shot. I was therefore delighted when ,during the Christmas edition of the Road Show, an apology was made “after several viewers had contacted the BBC to say the object was a FARINATOR used to assess malt.” Further investigation revealed that the owner’s family had at one time worked in the brewing industry explaining the presence of the object. Does any SBAA member know if the Farinator is still in use anywhere ? What replaced it?


6. “Call for Papers” – Scotch / Scottish Ale

Next year’s edition of the Annual Journal will be a special issue devoted to the beers commonly referred to as Scotch Ale and Scottish Ale. We shall explore what types of beers have been given these names and what, if anything, distinguishes them from ale brewed outside Scotland. We shall also be looking at the influence of Scottish beers and brewers elsewhere in the world. We would be delighted to consider articles of around 2,000—10,000 words on suitable topics. Short historical notes are also welcome. Subjects of interest might include, but are not restricted to: 1. Scottish-influenced beers outside Scotland 2. Scottish brewers’ impact elsewhere 3. Detailed treatises on specific beer styles regarded as ‘Scottish’, e.g. 60/-, wee heavy, etc. 4. Changing patterns of beer consumption 5. Mutation of Scottish beer styles over time The deadline for proposals is 5th February 2022. Please contact the editor, Robbie Pickering, at to discuss your proposal. Completed papers should reach the editor by the beginning of April 2022.

The text above was included at the appendix of the 2021 journal published in November and we would like to thank members Angus Meldrum and John Reade who have already provided interesting items for inclusion. We are also interested in hearing from anyone who had knowledge of Archibald Ferguson MacKechnie a Scot born in 1876. He trained at Tennent’s Wellpark Brewery and also worked with Watney’s before immigrating to Canada. In 1933 he was ‘headhunted’ by Ballantines of Newark who at that time were one of America’s largest Brewers. There he played an important role in reviving post prohibition beers , particularly Ballantines XXX and iconic Ballantines IPA.

7. McEwan’s Station Hotel ?

The SBAA has been contacted to ask if anyone has any information on the McEwan’s Station Hotel in Whitley Bay.

This building has now been converted to residential units and is literally a three
minute walk to the Metro Station. Photo on the left c. 1960’s. Right more recent.
If you have any information or thoughts on this please get in touch. Thank you.

8. Name the Brewery ?

The October teaser (on the left) was the Edinburgh Palace Brewery. Correctly Identified by Graeme Fisher who was on the SBAA September historic walk . There again he might have just recognised the building from its 1927-1970 role as the Regent cinema (on the right)!

Probably a bit of research required to name this Scottish Brewery?

If you have any old photos in your personal collection, please send them in , particularly if they haven’t been seen before by a wider audience , the SBAA is your showcase.

9. Suffolk Saver

SBAA member Susan Chisholm, who works for the Greene King brewery, recently helped save one of England’s iconic beers from the axe.
Greene King accountants planned to discontinue Strong Suffolk, the bottled strong ale which is made as a blend of 5% Burton Pale Ale and 12% Old 5X. The unique Old 5X is a strong stock ale which is brewed in Bury St Edmunds and aged in massive wooden vats for at least a year before being used. Once many English breweries had an aged ale of this type, but Greene King is now the only old-established brewery where the tradition survives.
Susan mentioned the plan in her article on Strong Suffolk’s history in the Brewery History Society newsletter, leading to an outcry from drinkers who recognised the significance of this product. Greene King bosses back-tracked and Strong Suffolk will now continue as a seasonal beer. Well done Susan.

Article supplied by Robbie Pickering

10. Last Runnings

  OBITUARY – The October newsletter carried an obituary to James Allan Hardie , we are indebted to Brian Eaton and the Hardie family for advising and correcting the original article. The on-line version is now inclusive of the amendments and will serve in posterity.
  Dr. DAVID PERRY – we are sad to report the death of member David Perry during 2021.
  WARM WELCOME – to new members William Warriner, Graham Malkiewicz Ex. S&N , Pam Burbidge and finally Sean McCormack from Chicago.
  SBA Anniversary – Thanks to former Chairman Ian Herok for pointing out an error in the minutes of the AGM that stated it was the 40th Anniversary of the SBAA. It was in fact the Anniversary of the Scottish Brewing Archive (SBA) – for the full history and dates see the ABOUT tab on the SBAA website.
  Remember to make a note of your NEW SBAA password 22SBAA – we have almost one hundred members for the start of 2022 and this gives YOU exclusive access to publications on the web-site.
  Finally, if you thought you had seen the last of Christmas check this, Apparently, our Chairman’s Christmas tipple ! Cheers

Correspondence to the SBAA Secretary
SBAA Newsletter No. 50 – January 2022

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