Scottish and Newcastle Breweries new office in Holyrood Road - Exterior
Scottish and Newcastle Breweries new office in Holyrood Road - Exterior

19 photos taking you back to a time when Edinburgh was a brewing powerhouse

Following the sad news the iconic Caledonian Brewery is to close its doors after 150 years, we take a look back to when Scotland’s capital city was a bona fide brewing powerhouse.

By Gary Flockhart
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:35 pm

One hundred years ago Edinburgh industry revolved around the three Bs: books, biscuits and beer – and lots of it.

As one of the most important brewing centres on the planet, the Capital once had as many chimney stalks as it did kirk spires; the air heavy with the pungent vapour of the former.

It’s part of the reason why the town ended up with its unenviable nickname: ‘Auld Reekie’.

It was a city of light industry, and, in addition to the many paper mills, book manufacturers, and biscuit makers, at the turn of 20th century there were almost 40 active breweries, the culmination of several centuries of beer-making tradition and expertise.

Today, the vast majority of the city’s major breweries have vanished, and the historic Caledonian Brewery at Slateford stands as a rare and unlikely survivor – though sadly not for much longer.

But not all is lost. A number of independent microbreweries have appeared in the Capital in recent years, ensuring that Edinburgh’s brewing tradition is alive and well.

Having dipped into our photographic archive, we take a look at 19 photos transporting us back to the days when Edinburgh was still a brewing powerhouse.

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