Forth Valley Breweries
There is little doubt that in Scotland's brewing history the town of Alloa holds a unique place. Alloa ales were held in high esteem not only throughout the United Kingdom but also in many other regions of the world. Brewing firms in Alloa date back to at least the mid-17th century. Famous brewing names such as Robert Henderson (Mills Brewery), Robert Knox (Forth Brewery), George Younger (Meadow & Candleriggs Breweries), Robert Meiklejohn (Candleriggs Brewery), James Calder (Shore Brewery), Blair & Co. (Townhead Brewery), Maclay & Co. (Thistle Brewery), and Archibald Arrol (Alloa Brewery) all operated here.
Outside of Alloa, the largest brewery in the Forth Valley area was James Aitken's brewery at Falkirk, operated from the time of its establishment in 1740 until its closure by Charrington United Breweries Ltd. in 1966. Throughout the period from the late 18th century up until about the very early 20th century, Stirling was home to a number of successful breweries. There were certainly other small brewing operations on the go in the surrounding towns and villages all over the Forth Valley area during the same time period.
Today brewing is alive and well in the region with some of Scotland's finest breweries residing in the area. The longest established of today's brewing concerns are Harviestoun Brewery (est. 1984 by Ken Brooker in Dollar) at Alva, and Williams Brothers Brewing (est. 1996) the latter now brewing in a former bottling plant that was operated by George Younger & Co. The highly successful and somewhat progressive Tryst Brewery (est. 2004) in Larbert, near Falkirk, is operated by my good friend and long time homebrewer John McGarva, while Andrew Barnett, owner of Barney's Beer (est. 2010) is currently brewing on the equipment of the former Egglesbrech microbrewery at the Behind The Wall bar in Falkirk proper with the aim of moving to his own premises. Traditional Scottish Ales now owns and operates the Stirling Brewery originally set up by Bridge of Allan Brewery founder, Douglas Ross, and ales are still brewed for The Lade Inn in Callander who also operate the Scottish Real Ale Shop. Finally, the Gibson family, owners of The Mansfield Arms in Sauchie, have been brewing ales under the Devon Ales name since 1992, and the pub itself has been a haven for real ales since the Gibsons took over.