The above is of course, like much of what is written about Scottish beer, a legend based on romantic nonsense about what Scotland is actually like. It doesn’t help that plenty of Scottish brewers are perfectly willing to repeat the nonsense to sell beer. You even get people complaining that real Scottish beer isn’t “Scottish” enough. Not even Belhaven can make a proper Scottish ale according to some people. This type of discourse is the equivalent of writing an essay on Scottish politics based on watching Braveheart.
Ron has just posted a map of 275 Scottish breweries known to exist in 1837. Here is a picture of it:
Here is a map of the peaty bits of Scotland which I’ve quoted from the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute:
Superimposing one map on the other, one thing is quite clear: with a few exceptions, the breweries in Scotland in 1837 were nowhere near the peaty areas:
Now, just on the basis of this — ignoring all the other evidence, ignoring that the industrial revolution started in Scotland, ignoring that many of these breweries are nearer to sources of coal than sources of peat, ignoring that we know for a fact that several of the largest breweries made their own malt on site, ignoring that they used a lot of imported malt anyway … just on the basis of this map, exactly how likely do you think it would be that the beer from these breweries would have a peaty influence?