Bellhaven Brewery Company Ltd. - Belhaven Scottish Ale

Bellhaven Brewery Company Ltd. - Belhaven Scottish Ale

Beer Club featured in International Beer Club U.S. & International Variety Beer Club



Alcohol by Volume:


Bellhaven Brewery Company Ltd. - Belhaven Scottish Ale

  • ABV:

  • Serving Temperature:

    45-50° F
So what is a Scottish Ale exactly? Well, being authentically Scottish is clearly important. Belhaven certainly has that prerequisite to its credit. Other criteria are open to interpretation, but in general, traditional Scottish beers have leant toward the sweeter, maltier flavor profiles than their dry, hoppy, British counterparts. The reason behind this may be rooted in the fact that while Scotland is home to abundant sources of malting barley, it is quite distant from the principal European hop growing regions. Scottish ales also tend toward darker malts than English versions, and are often stronger on the whole. Belhaven Scottish Ale fits some of these criteria; it is maltier than hoppy, but part of its mass appeal has been its very refreshing nature, due to lighter body and lower-alcohol content. Note the aroma—such balance on the nose is uncommon as it presents a subtle mustiness and slightly peppery hop aroma, both offsetting the honeyish, caramel malts, with an ever so slight note of anise. This medium-bodied beer has a slightly smoky, gently peppery flavor that balances the firm malt backbone. Look for the caramel, honey-like sweet malts to become less bashful as the beer warms and an exceptionally clean finish. A great match to complement lamb chops and gravy.

The oldest surviving brewery in Scotland (and one of the oldest in the whole U.K.), Belhaven Brewery’s roots as a commercial brewery go back all the way to 1719.  However, it’s widely believed by historians that brewing operations have been going on at the site since at least the Middle Ages. Two wells and some of the brewery’s cellars are definitely at least as old as the 15th century, and there is reliable evidence that the wells were created in 1415 by Benedictine monks.

The monks had been given the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth by Scottish King David I in 1150, and it was here that the Benedictines began the brewing legacy that would become Belhaven.  Over the next few hundred years, the monks colonized Fife and the Lothians, and eventually received lands near Dunbar at the harbor of Bele, known today as Belhaven.  The Benedictine, or “blessed” order, was indeed quite gifted in the art of brewing ale.  The monks lived and worked for centuries at the Belhaven property, and so enduring was their presence that the site upon which Belhaven Brewery now sits became known as “Monk’s Croft.”

Brewing was well-established at the Belhaven site by the middle of the 16th century, with records even documenting that their ale was supplied to the Franco-Scottish army in the 1550s while it was garrisoned at Dunbar Castle, bent on invading England.  Brewing for commercial sale began in 1719 when Belhaven came into the ownership of Mr. John Johnstone (the date was commemorated by being carved into a wooden support beam, which is still present in the brewery).  The brewery remained in this one family’s hands for over 250 years while they solidified the styles, recipes, and legacy of this famous beer lovers’ (bel)haven.

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