William McEwan opened the Fountain Brewery in 1856, in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh. By the time it became in public company in 1889, the brewery was valued at £1 million. At the beginning of the 1900s, the brewery had a large share of the market throughout Scotland and north-east England, and was exporting to Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. McEwan's merged with William Younger's Brewery (founded in Edinburgh in 1749) in 1931, becoming Scottish Brewers. The company merged again in 1960, joining with Newcastle Breweries to form Scottish & Newcastle.
In February 2004 Scottish & Newcastle announced the closure of McEwan's Brewery, at the same time as partially buying Caledonian Brewery in Slateford, Edinburgh. McEwan's brewery finally closed in June 2005, with production of the McEwan's keg beers being transferred to Caledonian and cans of Mcewans export now being brewed in England at Dunston brewery. .