Belhaven Scottish Ale

Total Score: 7.9/10 Caramel1Nut1Bread1Nonicpint1

Happy New Beer! Now that we’ve got that out of the way our first review of the new year is this fine Scottish Ale from Belhaven, a brewer from East Lothian that I became well acquainted with while living in Edinburgh (Lothian being the region Edinburgh is located in and Belhaven being a brewer that you can find on most taps in the city). Scottish Ales are renowned for their full malt profile, and I love a good malty ale, so hopefully old pros like Belhaven have nailed the style, as I’m certain they have, air do shlàinte!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Classic Scottish Ale clear caramel body which could almost be mistaken for a whiskey except for: bubbles and a thin off-white lace blanket on top. Pretty spot-on to the style. More head would be nice [wouldn’t it just?] but otherwise this is a fine looking brew. 8/10.

S: Nutty malts up front and smeared all over my snout like a beery peanut butter. Following this are caramel/toffee notes, a hint of fresh baked bread, and hops? A touch of earthiness in there must be hop related because there is naught much else. So a big malt driven ale as warranted given the style, nice! 8/10.

T: Sweet, creamy and nutty. In that order. The balance is skewed invariably towards sweet with almost overbearing caramel/toffee notes – however that is the Scottish Ale way – you will either love it or hate it [I luv it]. 8/10.

M: Mid to light, almost medium bodied, with a light UK pub carbonation… this beer would be awesome on nitro tap (or even in nitro can). 7/10.

D: This is a total trip down beer memory lane going back to 2001 Edinburgh, the Fringe festival, the many ales consumed whilst The Proclaimers blared out over the tavern PA, Flower of Scotland sung out by proud pub patrons – what a time and place to be alive – this beer nails it (probably because it was one of the brews I drank over there). Nostalgia out of the way – if you’re looking for a classic representation of the Scottish Ale style, which is a sweet malty ale with near non-existent hops, then this should be at or near the top of your list. O Fhlùir na h-Alba, cuin a chì sinn an seòrsa laoich! 8/10.

Food match: This brew would go great with a cheese platter or hearty Cullen skink followed by a roast beef or lamb dish.

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