Many households brewed their own ale from barley or oats, but heather ale and birch ale were also known. Families often had their own recipes which were handed down through the generations.
Small-scale brewers tended to be women. Some made more than was needed for their family and sold the surplus as a welcome source of income.
Great houses often had dedicated, specially equipped Brew Houses, such as that at Traquair House in the Scottish Borders.
Most towns and villages had ale houses where ordinary people gathered to consume large quantities of the beverage.
Ale was so important that, in 1725, when prices rose following the introduction of the Malt Tax, there were riots on the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
'A Receipt for makeing Ale', undated. By permission of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun.
Culinary and household recipes of the Fletcher of Saltoun family, 18th century. [Library reference: MS.17853]