Raise a glass to the history of brewing

A new exhibition at the Museum of Edinburgh reveal's Scotland's brewing past.

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh is in an area once renowned all over the world for something else – beer.

Memories of that time are being revived, in a part of Scotland’s capital where breweries once thrived, in a major new exhibition, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The “Raise Your Glass!” event is open free of charge to the public at the Museum of Edinburgh, a City of Edinburgh Council venue that showcases the city’s great past.

Open now, the free-to-visit display from Brewing Heritage Scotland portrays the untold story of one of Scotland's most important industries.

Brewing Heritage Scotland is linked with but is separate from the Scottish Brewing Archive Association (SBAA). Both promote interest in Scotland’s brewing history, The SBAA specifically fosters interest in brewing industry records held by the University of Glasgow Archive Services.

The William Younger company, later part of Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), once brewed on the site now occupied by the Scottish Parliament. S&N established its headquarters for several years at the same location.

John Martin, chairman of the SBAA and a director of Brewing Heritage Scotland, pointed out that the Museum of Edinburgh is on a site once surrounded by breweries, which were established to tap underground water supplies within an area once known to brewers as “the Charmed Circle”.

He said: “Edinburgh was once a major centre for beer production with dozens of breweries. The city’s international reputation is continued to this day by some brewers and by Heriot-Watt University, a key centre for the training of brewers and distillers and for research in brewing and distilling,” he added.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture and Sport Convener of the City of Edinburgh Council said: “Brewing is one of the Capital’s oldest industries and it’s incredible to think the trade hasn’t been celebrated with its own exhibition in Edinburgh before. “Raise Your Glass!” will take visitors back to the days of Auld Reekie, when Edinburgh had no less than 35 breweries churning out a haze of smoke at the industry’s peak in the 20th century.

"With a display of original brewing artefacts and advertisements and a series of talks and tours, it will document the brewing giants of the trade’s past and how the future of the industry now lies in the hands of Edinburgh’s micro-breweries.”

Visit the Museum of Edinburgh between 10am-5pm, Monday to Saturday until 25 June.

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