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 !