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.


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

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

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.