How did you get started?
The company began off the back of a chance meeting in the Williams owned Partick homebrew shop in 1988. An old lady of Gaelic decent walked into the shop with a family recipe for Heather Ale. With no brewing experience or knowledge she seeked the advice of my father Bruce on how to recreate the recipe, she agreed to share the recipe with him for the knowledge of how to brew it. Bruce then spent a few year experimenting and researching ancient Scottish recipes before going on to brew our first 5bbl batch of Fraoch at Taynult brewery. This sold out very quickly so his brother Scott Williams joined him in the business and a plan was hatched on how we would create the brew all year round. From there the brewery has moved around, first opening Craigmill in Strathaven, out growing that and taking over the Forth Brewery in Alloa, where we still brew. Once we moved to this site in Alloa, the Williams Bros. brand was created along with a selection of contemporary style brews, one of the first ones being Joker IPA, which has now gone on to be our number 1 seller.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Don't let anyone calling you crazy put you off. We have been called crazy for many years because we brew ancient beers with foraged ingredients. Even now, people are using strange ingredients more and more, even contacting us about how to best utilise them for their own brews.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
We hope to be still here in Alloa and keeping brewing alive in the old Scottish brew capital. Hopefully we will have a new brew house installed to facilitate growing demand for our products. Investments have been made in a canner and other bits of machinery which will improve output while maintaining the highest possible quality product.
If you could only brew one of your own recipes, what would it be & why?
That is an impossible question to answer, variety is the spice of life so why would I ever want to stick to one recipe forever. We believe there is a beer for every occasion and we do our best to brew one for every occasion, and there is no sign of us stopping on the creation of new recipes.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Michael Jackson (the beer writter not the musician), it would be great to show him how our beers have developed since his passing.
The menu would need to be a 15 course, beer matched monster. Each course carefully created to enhance the paired brew and not the other way around.
Alloa was long associated with the brewing industry, with at least nine major breweries producing ales at its height. However industrial decline during the late 20th century has led to the economy relying more on retail and leisure. The first brewing firms in the town were Younger in 1762 and Meiklejohn in 1784. Alloa ale was sent to London and George Younger had an extensive export trade to the West Indies, Egypt and the Far East. Alloa was also home to Alloa Brewery Co developing "Graham’s Golden Lager" in 1927 which was renamed "Skol" in the 1950s. Closures and mergers during the mid-20th century reduced the number of breweries to two and by 1999 only one remained, The Forth Brewery which became Williams Bros.
I already loved the beers that William Bros. Brewing Co produce before I knew the back story, the fact that they are doing their bit to put Scottish ale brewing back on the map is an added bonus. So if you haven't already tasted any of their wonderful beers yet, keep an eye out for their distinctive branding on the shelves of your local supermarket or even in the fridges of a wide range of pubs across the land.
I would like to thank Chris Williams for taking time out to answer the 5 Questions and wish him and his family every success in the future.