Brewing is probably one of the oldest trades in the region and most small towns, fermtouns and clachans would have brewed beer from locally grown barley. Nearly all beer was home-brewed until the Sale of Beer Act of 1795 which put an end to private production and required premises to be licensed. By the early 19th century brewing was controlled by public breweries.

Most towns in the south-west had their own brewery. In 1825 there were seventeen small breweries in Dumfries and Galloway: six were centred on Dumfries, Stranraer and Sanquhar had two each and there were single breweries in Wigtown, Newton Stewart, Gatehouse, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas, Thornhill and Langholm. 

Brewing was a profitable business and many brewers played important roles in the social and civic life of their towns. For instance John Campbell, who ran Stranraer's North Strand Street brewery, was involved as a harbour officer, served on the burgh council and for some years in the 1870s was the town provost. 

From the 1600s special ales like porter were imported by sea to meet the demands of the area's more refined palettes. The arrival of the railways in the 1850s opened up the south-west as a market for the large regional brewers in the Central Belt and the English Midlands. The local brewing industry began to contract, many town breweries closed and by the early 20th century the only breweries in Dumfries in Galloway were at Dumfries, Gatehouse, Newton Stewart and Stranraer. 

By the 1970s the local brewing industry had died. There has however been a revival over the last decade with a number of 'real ale' micro-breweries being established in the region. In 2006 there were small breweries at Mauchline, Castle Douglas and on Arran. 

You must enable javascript to view this website