Belhaven Scottish Ale | Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

very good
2,078 Ratings
Belhaven Scottish AleBelhaven Scottish Ale

Brewed by:
Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our signature Scottish Ale is the beer we've brewed the longest and is our best-selling bottle world-wide. We brew it from 100% Scottish Optic and Crystal barley malts for a nutty, biscuit character, balanced with a subtle spiciness from Challenger and Goldings hops for an all-around satisfying beer.

George Howell - Master Brewer, Belhaven

Added by Mitchster on 08-07-2001

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,078 |  Reviews: 904
Photo of AdamMY
4.16/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is quite nice a decent maple syrup color with a nice white head that faded fast but left lots of lacing.

The aroma is certainly unique but it had some sort of odd funk that I was not that fond of. The taste is quite nice hints of cocoa and malt, and cream.

The mouthfeel is a bit weak, but over all it is quite nice.

 331 characters

Photo of MadeInOregon
1.8/5  rDev -52.5%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

If this is one of the best examples of a Scottish ale, then I definitely do not dig this style. After trying Belhaven's Scottish Ale I'm also thinking that the beers I've had which I thought were "Scottish ales" were probably wee heavys since they tasted nothing like this...but, hey, this is how ya learn.

The Belhaven Scottish Ale that I had came in their very nice 500ml bottle. Clear glass, nice clean label--really classy stuff. Poured out, it is a clear, brownish bronze color with a nice 1.5" sea foamy head. It looks nice and crisp. So far so good.

THE SMELL, however, instantly ruined this one for me. As others have mentioned, this beer has a VERY strong vinegar aroma to it. I suppose this is a result of this style's brewing process, but, man, this is a bit overpowering. I hadn't even had a sip yet and was still about 2 feet away from the opened bottle and cup and all I could smell was a rather awful odor of leak, pickles, sauerkraut, etc., filling my kitchen. In other words: semi-rotten vegetables. Holding the cup up to my nose, the smell was still vinegary but also that of a cheap, adjunct lager. Interesting, but unpleasant.

THE TASTE, to me, was basically of a bad brown ale. That vinegary smell was the first taste to hit me, then transitioning to a light smoky chocolate malt quality, and finishing with an admittedly nice hoppy bite. Unfortunately the mixture of all these very different flavors resulted in an overall flavor of vinegar + ashtrays. This is truly an acquired taste!

THE FEEL is just OK. It's probably the highlight of the actual drinking experience. I don't really have much else to say about that.

CONCLUSION: I was expecting something rich and sweet so I was quite disappointed with this one. I'm not sure if this is how a "Scottish ale" should taste so I can't rate it too low, but I can say that I really didn't like this. After the initial disappointment I tried to take it for what it is, but just couldn't get into it. This one was a waste of $3.79. Bleh.

 2,009 characters

Photo of NaLoGra
4.87/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I was very impressed with this beer, not really knowing what to expect at first. Once I poured it in to my glass, first thing I noticed was the head. Very thick, brown-ish like the beer itself.

Flavor is very full, nutty with an almost toasty aftertaste. Very impressed, definitely will buy again.

 299 characters

Photo of Homebrew35
2.98/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a half finger white head. Deep copper clear body. Smells Carmel, yeasty bread, oak, toffee and some grassy metallic hops. Tastes like a mineraly English ale, Carmel, smokey, earthy hops, some metallic over tone. Medium thin body, light carbing. Lingering metallic bitter finish. Overall a bit too dry and some off putting metallic earthiness.

 348 characters

Photo of bsp77
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear coppery amber with thin white head.

Smell: Caramel, bread and metallic hops mostly, with light cherry and smoke. Also a change fruity aroma that is a little off-putting.

Taste: Cherry and almost fig-like fruitiness. Some caramel, yeasty bread and a nice touch of peat. Hop levels are quite low, with a light spicy, herbal finish.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body with a semi-dry finish.

Overall: Despite the odd smell, this is great everyday Scottish Ale. Would love to have it cask conditioned in the Old Town section of Edinburgh. Mmm.

 627 characters

Photo of pocwolf
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Super clean looking great white head from the nitro

S - Malty upfront, slight bready and yeasty smells also

T - Again malty upfront, slight hop bitterness at the end. This beer had a little bit of mineral taste that I wasnt for sure if I liked or not.

M - Full mouthfeel, very creamy from the nitro

O - A great beer, I really enjoyed it. I could session this one.

 371 characters

Photo of jar2574
3.06/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a bottle. Nice thick whitish head over clear brown/amber beer. Decent lacing on the way down.

Quite strong smelling. Unfortunately, although I can smell some malts, the strongest smell is of a metallic nature.

This is a rather light ale - only a little more dense than BMC beers. Malts dominate but it's a mellow beer, the malts aren't overpowering. There's some metallic taste.

The mouthfeel is boring if you're looking for something complicated. It's pretty watery. But I'll assume people drink this as a session beer, and for that, it's an OK, easy-to-drink beer.

Overall - I'd drink this in Scotland to try it fresh. I probably won't buy it again over here in the states.

 693 characters

Photo of LebronJeremy
4.16/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: This beer may have my favorite pour. It's just fun to watch Nice golden/amber color with a sticky head.

S: Pretty malty, but balanced by a faint hoppiness.

T: Very reminiscent of a Guinness to me. A little sweeter, perhaps with a mild bitterness that sometimes has a tendency to stay for too long. Nice chocolaty notes with a decent roast--Solid!

M: I love the nitro can. I've gotten Guinness in nitro-bottles and they were never as creamy as the Belhaven. When I first had the Belhaven, I thought, "This is how a Guinness should feel in the mouth."

O: Very solid beer. It's part of my regulars.

 602 characters

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can with widget, poured into a pint glass, because I didn't have anything else...

Once the beautiful cascading Nitrogen bubbles clear the surface of the beer and form a 1.5 finger head, the body of the beer is a garnet and coppery in color. It is crystal clear, and I could read a newspaper behind the glass, even when it is filled with beer.

The aroma is subtle. Toffee and caramel with a nice presence of peated malt come out in great balance. The taste is similar, with a malty sweetness that comes through in the finish. Smooth and silky on the palate, this beer is very well done and flavorful, especially given the relatively low alcohol level as compared to other versions of the style that I have been able to enjoy. For such a widely distributed and affordable beer, I am not sure you can do much better in terms of a Scottish Ale.

 842 characters

Photo of nrbw23
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark amber color with a thick creamy off white head. Head becomes a thin cap of foam and lacing is nicely layered.

S- Smell is of light toasted grain and a ton of sweet malts. Not really picking up any hops. Fairly light smelling too.

T- Malts are every where here and dominant this brew. Toasted grain, bready caramel are all here in force. Maybe a touch of a nutty after taste.

M- Medium in body and carbonation seems right on. Has a great creamy feel to it.

O- I like this brew and find it very easy to drink.

 530 characters

Photo of foogerd
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Deep clear copper body with an off white small head that leaves off lacing sparingly.

S- Lots nutty malts, some light caramel and bitter hops.

T- Very clean crisp bready malts balanced out by the slight snap of the bitter bite of the hops.

M- Smooth slick with moderate carbonation.

O- Nice example of the style, definitely a quaffable beer that can pair with any meal well.

 382 characters

Photo of rsdaugherty
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Nitro-can into pint glass
A - The pour from the nitro-can got off to an immediate bad start. The instant the can was cracked a beer & head mix immediately starts spewing out. Lost ΒΌ to 1/3 of the 15oz can. When settled... very thick 2+ finger head, clear orange brown amber color, almost no head dissaapiation at all 4
S - Coffee and caramel with a bit of floral hoppiness and smoke 3.5
T - Sweet toasted, caramel and earthy malts dominate, mild hop/smoke/coffee finish 3.5
M - Moderate body has an oiled velvet mouth feel 4
O - a good beer that I just don't think I am fond of, could have another but won't 3.0

 612 characters

Photo of FreshHawk
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep, clear amber color with the thick, creamy, marshmallow-like, white head I expected from a nitro can. Great retention with the head persisting. Nitro adds to the experience nicely

S - Caramel apple, toffee, and herbal aroma are quite strong. Some bready notes as well. Pretty malty with enough English hops to back it up.

T - Sweet caramel and apple are very strong. Tea/herbal hops also fairly strong. They are also dulled a bit by the sweet, stickiness though. Very malty.

M - Medium body with a decent carbonation. Smooth and creamy - what I expected via a nitro can.

D - A little too sweet and sticky for me to truly enjoy this. Not enough character to want to go back to.

Notes: Nitro was nice and helped, but this is another slightly lackluster import from the UK. Some English hop/malt characteristics but doesn't deliver fully. Decent, but nowhere near the top beers you can get from the UK (I know pretty much described most UK imports).

 959 characters

Photo of rootbeerman
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

can poured into a pint

A: pours clear copper to light brown, with a typical nitro-can thick creamy last to the last sip head thats about .25" thick.
S: toasted smoky malt mixed with bread and caramel sweetness.
T: sweet malt, nice toasted malt with a very light hop earthy bitterness.
M: smooth and creamy, seems to coat but only per sip.
O: this is a goto when all else fails me, somewhat of a comfort brew, why im not sure.

 430 characters

Photo of beancounter
2.96/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

This beer has a beautiful deep amber color with excellent head retention and healthy carbonation. But that's all of it's good points.

It tasted mostly like water with a very light toffee/sweet taste in the back of the tongue. That's it. It was very drinkable in the same way water is drinkable. A very inoffensive beer that even a BMC drinker could handle.

The instructions on the can said to chill for 3 hours. That was my first mistake. When a brewer wants you to chill his beer, there must be a issue with the flavor at cellar temps.

I can't believe some people consider this to be the flagship for the style.

 615 characters

Photo of artdob
2.41/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Decent head with some staying power. Copper with mild carbonation visible.

S: Malty. Yeasty bread. Caught a bit of an distracting odor in the mix.

T: Really caught something not quite right - almost a sourness that emerges too quickly after an initial sweet sensation. Really distracting. Maybe the clear bottle didn't help the shelf-life for this beer?

M: Fizzy carbonation - light mouthfeel.

O: Not enthused with this one. Would be interested in another sample - maybe the can version.

 498 characters

Photo of dali27
3.09/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz. clear bottle into pint glass.

A: Reddish-brown in color, with a thin flimy looking head upon pour. Actively carbonated, and head stuck around throughout drinking. The appearance grew on me, and it looked a lot nicer when drink was 3/4's gone.

S: Mild skunk. Malty scent.

T: Skunk went away after first couple of tastes. Heavy on the malt flavor. Nutty and caramel flavors also come through. There was a metallic taste that I was not too fond of.

M: Decent mouthfeel, but nothing overly stands out.

D: At 5.2% abv. this is definitely an easily drinkable beer, but with what I see as inconsistancies in the taste I am going to look elsewhere next time.

 674 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish amber color, no real head.

Smells of mildly toasted grains an very subtle caramel.

Taste follows, with a hint of hops.

Feels moderate with soft carbonation.

Pretty decent and drinkable ale. Would be easy to session. Nothing special but above average.

 277 characters

Photo of alelord
4.46/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my nonic pint glass a beautiful reddish brown with a long lasting head.
I can smell the roasted malts, smells sweet.
Taste is the same, malty, roasted sweetness and a lush, creamy, smooth mouthfeel. I like malty beers so I'm really liking this, I think I may need another.

 284 characters

Photo of StaveHooks
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear ruby copper with a 1/2 inch white head that settles down forming a nicely formed collar.

S - Rich toffee and caramel malt, apricots, musty grain, skunky at first but dies out as it sits.

T - Starts of with sweet toasted toffee malt. Berry fruit and apricots come around and add to the rich malt. Grassy and floral hops come in and add balance to the sweetness. Finishes crisp and clean. Aftertaste is toffee malty goodness.

M - Heavy side of medium body. Rich and creamy, great carbonation.

Well I didn't expect much out of this clear bottled brew, but I quickly changed my mind after the pour. This has excellent sweet malt flavor and combination of the carbonation and hops add perfect balance. Delicious Scottish Ale!

 743 characters

Photo of gh02t
4.46/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a pilsner glass. Also had it on tap, it is definitely not as good that way. Bottle is the way to go for this one.

A- A gorgeous ruby red, nice head that persists and leaves a lovely lacing on the glass.

S- Slightly grassy, hint of yeastiness. Smell is weakest feature.

T- Wow, smooth and complex. Don't serve too cold as the aromatics can be suppressed. Has a rich malty flavor with a hint of peat. Hints of caramel and fresh grass at the end.

M- Fizzy and hearty. Leaves behind a pleasant clean sensation.

D- This beer is best when it is lightly chilled, allowing all the flavors to come out. It's pretty hearty, so it fills you up but the flavors go well with heavy foods. I rather like it with beef stew.

This is my favorite. I've had maybe a few beers that were better (but it certainly stands amongst the best), however Belhaven Scottish is my definite top choice.

 903 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, was I wrong about this beer before! Had it fairly fresh from a bottle a couple years ago and was NOT impressed (I knew it wasn't a Wee Heavy, so my displeasure wasn't based on a false comparison).

Anyhoo, this might be the very best nitro-tap beer I've had to date - and I got it at an UNO (deep dish)! Go figure.

Looks...dull rosy-copper tone, slightly hazy, while the head poured creamy and dense and went down with the sip. Really can't ask for anything more as far as the copious bands of lace left behind (somehow, with all those trails, a solid cap remained).

The things that stick out most in my mind about this were the boldness of the malt - super flavorful with a fantastic balance/presence of subtle bready and toasty grain, a mild yet concentrated (plum?) fruitiness, and a magnificent leathery(?)/mushroom(?) earthy quality that bound it all together. Faint nuance of hops accented the flavor, flaring up gently in the aftertaste. But, my how tasty and refreshing! Bested the fish and chips I got with it.

Certainly going to go back and try this from the bottle and also from one of them fancy nitro cans. Recommended!

 1,140 characters

Photo of MoreThanWine
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was quite a nice pint. Poured a 1" head of the finest most silky kind. Hazy brownish color, almost a malted milk. Smell of sweet malt. Taste is mild and easy drinking, a little sweet, with the slightest hints of the start of stout flavors like chocolate and coffee. My drinking companion for the night was also happily pleased. Good product.

 346 characters

Photo of smwesson500
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Amber in color

S: Kinda dull, disappointing in short.

T: Very subtle taste and even better finish.

M: Not bitter to where your throat closes up and it's a task to put it down.

D: Excellent in my opinion. The last tastes the same as the first. You could simply be testing this beer or you could be going for a marathon, it simply doesn't matter; you will like this beer.

 377 characters

Photo of ksmi116
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Copper in color, with about a 1 finger white head that stays full for about a minute or two.

S - Smells like alcohol, slighty sour smell as well. This smell does not indicate the taste very much.

T - low malt profile, with alcohol burn and a slight bit of bitterness at the finish. Nothing outstanding

M - Surprising alcohol finish for how low it is in ABV. Carbonation was very prevalent.

D - You could drink plenty of this if you like, The problem I would have is that I just am not very impressed by this beer

 520 characters

Belhaven Scottish Ale from Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
3.79 out of 5 based on 2,078 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.