Mouth of the Tweed Celebrating and Promoting our Local Food Heritage - Today and in the Past
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In the Middle Ages, brewing was literally a cottage industry, and was often an occupation of women.

In the 13th century the Guild of Berwick, which regulated all brewing and sale of ale and beer, issued an ordinance: “No woman shall sell ale, from Easter to Michaelmas, at dearer than twopence a gallon; nor, from Michaelmas to Easter, at more than a penny. And the names of the ale-wives shall be registered.”

The Guild records also show that oats were commonly used in brewing as well as barley: “No woman shall buy (at one time) more than a chaldron of oats for making beer to sell.”

By the Victorian period, Berwick had become a centre of the brewing industry. The growth of woollen-mill towns like Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk provided a ready market in the region and beer were also sent by sea from Berwick to industrial Tyneside.

At the junction of Brewery Bank and Brewery Lane in Tweedmouth stands one of the best preserved groups of 18th and 19th century brewery buildings in North East England. Fuller's 1799 “History of Berwick” mentions the Tweedmouth brewery of Sibbit, Dickson & Co.

The brewery in Tweedmouth later became part of the Border Brewery Company that also had premises in Silver Street in Berwick. The rival Tweed Brewery was located at the former Governor’s House in Palace Green.

In 1841, there were 57 licensed public houses in Berwick, 15 in Tweedmouth and 9 in Spittal, many of which were tied houses belongjng to the brewery companies.

The brewing tradition is continued in the town today by Bear Claw, a micro-brewery in Spittal that produces a range of brews using locally-malted grains.

Extracts from contemporary newspapers relating to brewing and pubs in Berwick in Victorian times

Further reading “A Pub on Every Corner? – Drink and the Licensed Trade in Nineteenth Century Berwick-upon-Tweed”, by Wendy Bell Scott

Barley and Wheat