Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd. - Belhaven Scottish Ale
Serving Temperature: 40-50° F
Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass
This is one of the benchmarks of the "Scottish Ale" style. That being said, there's a lot variability among commercial varieties. In general, traditional Scottish ales have leant more toward sweeter, maltier flavor profiles than their dry, hoppy, British ale counterparts. The reason behind this is likely rooted in the fact that Scotland is home to abundant sources of malting barley but 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. On the nose expect 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 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. Some pairing suggestions: lamb chops with gravy, flame-grilled chicken and veggie skewers (a little bit of char on these will really marry the smoky elements in the beer) or a well-done, pepper-seasoned London Broil.
The Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd. is the oldest surviving brewery in Scotland, and one of the oldest in all of the U.K. Its roots as a commercial brewery go back to 1719, but most historians accept that a brewery has existed on the site since at least the Middle Ages. Indisputable is the fact that the two wells and some of the cellars contained within the brewery date from at least the 15th century, and credible evidence indicates that the wells were dug by Benedictine monks in 1415.
The brothers began their brewing legacy across the waters on the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, some 2-3 centuries before coming to mainland Scotland. Over the next few centuries the monks colonized Fife and the Lothians. They were eventually granted lands in the vicinity of Dunbar at the nearby harbor of Bele, which is today known as Belhaven.
The Benedictine, or "blessed" order was blessed indeed in the art of ale-brewing, though it seems their sacred brewing gifts were earned rather than ordained. The brothers worked at the Belhaven site for several hundred years, cultivating the land, planting crops and digging wells. So notable were their efforts and enduring their presence that the land on which the Belhaven Brewery now stands became known as "Monk's Croft".
By the 16th century brewing had been firmly established at the site; records document that Belhaven ale was supplied to the Franco-Scottish army, which was bent on invading England in the 1550s and which, at that time, was garrisoned at nearby Dunbar Castle. By the early 18th century the Brewery had come into the ownership of Mr. John Johnstone, an event commemorated by the carving of the date 1719 into a support beam still present in the brewery. A single family then owned the brewery for more than 250 years, firmly securing the styles and recipes of this famed brewers' (bel)haven.
If you'd like more information about the Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd., check out www.belhaven.co.uk.
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