Employees Bill Edmund (with barrel) and Grahame Wood preparing to open Edinburgh's Caledonian Brewery doors to the public during Brewery Month, September 1992.
Employees Bill Edmund (with barrel) and Grahame Wood preparing to open Edinburgh's Caledonian Brewery doors to the public during Brewery Month, September 1992.

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

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

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 4:40 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd April 2021, 9:04 am

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 sobriquet: 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, with the historic Caledonian Brewery at Slateford a rare and unlikely survivor.

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. In fact, there are as many breweries in the city today as there have ever been, albeit on a far smaller scale than yesteryear.

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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