Clackmannanshire's largest town, with a distinguished former brewing tradition - in spite of a current population of just 19,000 or so - it's high time Alloa made it onto the fap? map. Sadly, it's gone the way of many northern British towns and had its traditional economic heart ripped out of it (although the glassworks remain) which has left opportunities limited. Intriguingly - and on a more positive note - one or two of its local brews have made it as guests as far down as London in recent months, which fact made us smile when we spotted them, the most notable export being "Cock o' the Walk" red ale which turned up in the Edgar Wallace in Temple around Christmas time. We recently trekked up to the self-styled "Wee County" - Clacks is geographically the smallest council area north of the border - and popped into the Old Brewery while waiting for the local landmark, Alloa Tower, to open. Located on the site of the last-surviving local brewery which closed in 2001 (Maclay's - there were once nine (!) breweries), inside it's a hard place to pin down. They've kept the exposed brickwork, columns and steelwork of the brewing past, but it feels almost American in style, with a plethora of dedicated eating areas, some leather settees and a mezzanine level which wouldn't be out of place in Chicago. They do a good pint of Belhaven, both original and cold, which latter was our choice given the unseasonably warm early April temperature of 22 or so degrees. Interestingly, they have a display cabinet on the stairs showing memorabilia from the defunct brewery, including bottles of 80 /- export. You can also order a Smirnoff mojito from a dedicated machine at the bar. Overall, an enjoyable and pleasant atmosphere on a Saturday lunchtime. We were in a good mood so we'll give it three pints on account of the history, good beer and the very friendly staff.
Reviewed by kentish_man
12 Apr 2011