Maclay and Co

Robert and John Ramsay, two brothers who ran a bottling business in Dunfermline, acquired the Thistle Brewery, and associated maltings, in around 1882, following the dissolution of the partnership of J. & J. Maclay.

The business then traded under the name Maclay & Co. In 1888 two new partners, Alexander Fraser and James Drummond, were assumed, and the following year the Ramsay brothers sold them their interest in the company.

The company's trademark was a thistle.

Amongst the beers produced by the firm were Imperial Stout and Oatmalt Stout, the latter of which won a Prize Medal at the Vienna Exhibition in 1894.

In 1896 it was decided to convert the business into a limited company - Maclay & Co Ltd.

Trademark for Maclay & Co
Trademark for Maclay & Co
© Forbes Gibb, 2015

Location: Alloa

Active: 1882 - 1896

Status: Converted

Breweries and other buildings

The Thistle Brewery was established by James Maclay in 1875 in the East Vennel.

It passed through the hands of a number of owners until it was finally acquired by the Matthew family in 1991. It remained operational until 1999, when its closure brought a long history of brewing in Alloa to an end.

Part of the Thistle Brewery survives in Mill Road as a pub called, appropriately, the Old Brewery.


Map of 1899 showing the Thistle Brewery
Map of 1899 showing the Thistle Brewery
© National Library of Scotland, 2015


We have one image related to Maclay & Co, and would welcome any other information or images linked to the company.

Other Sources of information


The University of Glasgow Archive Services holds papers in its Scottish Brewing Archive from 1824-1993 (Ref : GB 1127 M).

Books and periodicals

Anon.  Dunfermline slander case. Dundee Courier, 9th June 1890.

McMaster, C. Alloa Ale: a history of the brewing industry in Alloa. Edinburgh: Alloa Brewery Company, 1985.