First, a little something about bottling:
"My uncle John Young was 56 years in the brewery he did the bottling for the Overseas market and even did the Brewing during the 1914 - 1918 war. I joined the brewery in 1924 and took over where he left off in the bottling department, My first carbonated unit was a Pontifex 100 Gallon in each cylinder of four in the quick chiller I still did the natural conditioned beer and stout. At that time we had still beer coming out of the Bond going to Newfoundland, Karachi, Bombay, Hong Kong, etc. There was a Brussels Stout it was like treacle and deadly but so was the Export beer, two pints of any of them would see anybodys boots off."
The brewery's export trade to Asia wasn't quite dead after WW I. That's interesting to know. As is the fact that they were still naturally conditioning some of their bottled beer. Now there's something slightly odd. Plenty of Scottish brewers exported specially-brewed beers to Belgium. But they were usually Scotch Ales, not Stouts. Unfortunately, I've no record of this Brussels Stout so have no idea of its strength. The Scotch Ales were mostly 8 or 9% ABV, similar to the strength of domestic Strong Ales from before WW I.
I was delighted to find a explanation of Aitken's water supply:
"The water for the Brewing came from a disused mine in the Bantaskine Estate, The fore [sic] inch pipe went under the union Canal along the boundery wall of the Poorhouse (now known as the Windsor hospital) It went by gravitation untill it arrived at the Bleachfield, In the corner of a small field there stood a stone built pump house that pumped up to the Brewery, The pump house was still there, until the new Municipal building was finished.
There was two Artesian wells that went into an under ground loch the finest brewing water in the country One had a steam compressor the other an electric Ingorsal rand. I saw pipes that were withdrawn from the well and the two inch pipe you hardly get a pencil through, and the lime silt was as hard as the metal the pipes were made of.
The brewery was built on virgin sand that goes down to a great depth, at one time the sea came beyond it In fact Saturday was Mariners Day in Camelon the 9th June Camelon is fully a mile from the brewery on the road to Glasgow, At one time that was a sea Port There was a good seam of coal under the brewery but it was not workable as there was no roof, the seam was in the kerse thats on the road to Grangemouth, it was the same there only it was running sands."
That's confirmation that it was water from Bantaskine that was used for brewing. I'n not quite sure how you get water from a disused coal mine. Could it have been an open cast mine that filled up with water to form an artificial lake?
This newspaper article confirms the arrangement:
"WORKS COMMITTEE - WATER SUPPLY TO THE BREWERY.
The Clerk read the following minute of the meeting of the Roads Committee held on July last:- "Mr James H. Aitken and Mr K. Gair attended on behalf of Messrs Aitken. and Co., and explained the course of the water pipes which they wish to lay from Bantaskine to the Falkirk Brewery, and, after deliberation, the committee agreed to allow the pipes to be laid in the public roads under the charge of the Commissioners on the following conditions:- (1) That the water is only used for brewing purposes ; (2) that the Brewing Company pay the Commissioners £1 yearly and lay their pipes at the sight and to the satisfaction of the burgh surveyor; (3) that the Brewery Company take all the risk of the pipes, and maintain the same; and (4) that this permission is only to be given during the pleasure of the Commissioners; and (5) that in the event of the pipes being required to be shifted for the purpose of the Commissioners laying other Pipes, or making other operations, the Brewery Company shall remove their pipes to such other track as may be pointed out by the burgh surveyor: and an agreement to give effect to these to be adjusted between the agents, and executed at the expense of the Brewery Company."
Treasurer Stevenson moved the adoption of the minute. He thought the arrangement with Messrs Aitken would turn out a very good one for the ratepayers of the burgh of Falkirk, because he believed that Messrs Aitken intended to increase or rather to enlarge their brewery to a considerably extent. At the same time the Water Trust was not likely to lose anything by allowing them to take in a supply, because it was to be used for brewing purposes only.
After some little discussion, the minute was unanimously adopted."
Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 2 September 1896, page 4.
I'm not quite sure how the Water Trust would not lose out. Perhaps they mean that because they would only be using the water for brewing, that the quantities would be limited. Presumably the water from the artesian wells was used for other purposes such as cleaning and cooling (you have to pump something through attemperators).
Securing the supply of brewing water was obviously a big deal from the brewery, in that they went to the trouble of laying the pipes themselves. The mention of Aitken's proposed expansion might be significant. Is that how they got the council to agree, by saying they would be creating jobs? It's a tactic often used by Tesco and the like.
Finally a little more about bottled beer:
"I used the Paterson and North Port boxes and bottles quite a lot of the North Port bottles were reputed pints which we used for the natural conditioned beers and stout a few of the publicans passed off our beer for Bass red Label and our India Pale Ale as the Blue Label that was the Bass carbonated beer"
A "reputed pint" is an odd measure that was once much used bottled beer. It was 365 ml. or about two-thirds of an Imperial pint. Passing of Aitken beer as Bass was a bit naughty. The beer they were passing off as Bass Red Label must have been naturally-conditioned, as the Bass product was.