Belhaven Brewery - Scottish Oat Stout
- ABV: 7.0%
- Serving Temperature: 50-55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass, Mug, or Snifter
Pouring virtually black with a head of medium brown foam, Belhaven’s Scottish Oat Stout offers up a complex aroma; look for notes of dark and milk chocolate, deep caramel, toasted bread, hints of coffee and cola, molasses, dark rum, and more. These notes translate to the flavor as well, although for us the molasses note seems to emerge stronger here, as does some dark fruit character. Hops add a touch of spice, which conjures impressions of spiced rum. There’s a moderate sweetness present, countered by some mild to moderate hop bitterness, some roasty malt notes, and a touch of spicy alcohol. Very round, silky smooth, and full-bodied due to the generous use of oats, this stout is a true pleasure to sip. We’re big fans of hefty stouts like this on their own (often as a nightcap) so we can contemplate all of the beer’s complexities, but they can complement the right foods, too. For a food pairing we’d recommend a snack of earthy or nutty cheeses, or a chocolaty dessert. Cheers!
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. If you'd like more information about the Belhaven Brewery, check out http://www.belhaven.co.uk.
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