Beer was brewed in the Strath before whisky was distilled !

It is not generally known that the  brewing of ale or  beer  was carried  out in the Strath long  before they started  to produce the uisge beatha or whisky . According to Porteous , it was in 1275 that  Luke , son of Theobold of Petlandy near Fowlis Wester , gave to the Abbot and Convent of Inchaffray “ the brew house of the whole land of Petlandy with the rights of the brew house “

Oats were the principal grain grown in the Strath in the 13th Century and it was written about Scotland as a whole that “ From  the multitude of brewhouses with which every division of the Kingdom appears to have been studded , from the Royal manufactories  of ale down to those in the towns, burghs , baronies and villages , it is evident that this beverage must have been consumed in  great quantities “

We cannot be specific  as to when brewing first commenced in Crieff . Reference  to documentation  concerned  with the aftermath of the 1745  Uprising in Strathearn is informative . Produced  in 1748 , “The Rental of the Forfeited Estates of Perth “ drawn up  by one David Bruce , a  surveyor of the Forfeited Estates , states that there were at least five breweries  in the  town and  adjoining neighbourhood . 

The brewers of 1748 were William and Andrew  Miller in Gavelbeg , Andrew Bayne , John Clement and David Porteous . Where the location of the last three was remains uncertain . About 1800 there was  a brewery  located at the west  end of Milnab Street and Comrie Road  which was managed by  a David Porteous  who was the son of the one mentioned  previously .This  brewery had  existed for a considerable  number of years before this  date . It was this David Porteous  who built Hawkshaw on the Comrie  Road . The house is clearly shown on Wood’s Map of Crieff dated 1822.

When Porteous died , the brewery  was rented to a John Campbell who carried  on business for  many years  before passing it on to a John Bullions . The brewery  however  became somewhat  “ disreputable “ and was referred to locally as the “ splash mill “ – why I am not clear – but legend reminds us that the local  hand loom weavers ( the majority of the working populous  in those far off days ) would  go on a spree and  boast that they could get drunk there in ten minutes  for three pence each ( 1.25 modern pence !  ) . The brewery  closed in 1876 .

The best known Crieff brewery was  located in the Water Wynd – that part of Mitchell Street as it is now known running  from the Miller Street junction down towards East High Street .This was aptly named the Crieff Brewery and was erected in 1791 . Just one year into business it was producing 9600 gallons of beer at 14 pence ( old ) and 22 pence ( old ) a gallon from 400 bolls of bear (barley ) costing 15/- a boll . Managed  by one , Hugh McDougall he sold  a bottle of “ small /sma’ “ for a half penny ! It closed about 1860 .

Nowadays you get  your  beer from the Coop or Ellie’s Cellar . It maybe Scottish  - more likely German – but certainly not brewed in Crieff !


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