The development of the Scottish brewing industry, 1750-1914
The formative years in the development of the brewing industry in Scotland coincided with the classic Industrial Revolution 1770-1830. The industry was well established by the mid-eighteenth century, a number of important firms being founded about 1750. After1830 there was steady expansion and increased concentration, which was intensified during the boom years 1885-1900. By 1914 a large proprotion of the industry was concentrated in several large firms. The relationship of brewing to the land and agriculture was significant because it derived its most important raw material, barley, from the countryside. Being a primary processing industry, the fortunes of brewing were in large measure regulated by the natural cycle, although state interference and the excise laws were also important factors influencing fluctuations and growth. Brewing maintained this close contact with the countryside: many farmers invested capital in the industry; and the waste products of the brewery were returned to the farm for fattening purposes. Capital found its way into brewing from various sources, mainly from agriculture and commerce. Merchants were among the leading group of investors, others including lawyers, accountants and exisemen. Partnership and family participation in management were important throughout the period until 1914, and generally business and technical expertise were of equal significance. Because brewing was a capital-intensive industry labour requirements were limited. Apart from the brewers and clerks most workers were unskilled and undertook tasks in the brewhouse akin to those on the farm. Scottish brewing techniques differed somewhat from those in the south, the most popular products in the early period being strong and table beers. Porter--a dark highly-hopped liquor--was also manufactured. Later in the nineteenth century there was an increased production of pale ales, in which many Scottish brewers came to specialise for both domestic and overseas markets. Between 1850 and 1914 much pioneering work was done by Scottish brewers on new techniquest especially for the production of light and bottled beers. Before the end of the eighteenth century markets were limited by transport costs, with the result that many modest country breweries supplied their own neighbourhood. Urban brewers began to make inroads into country markets during the Industrial Revolution and also to sell further afield by developing the coastal and foreign trades. After 1850 a distinctive retail system based on loans to publicans developed, but it did not become of major importance until the boom of the 1890s. England became an important market for Scottish beers and overseas outlets were exploited with some success. Production greatly increased after 1870 and Scottish brewers captured a large share of the export trade, a position retained until 1914.