Belhaven Scottish Ale | Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

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Belhaven Scottish AleBelhaven Scottish Ale
Very Good
2,162 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

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Ratings: 2,162 |  Reviews: 928
Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Clear and amber/orange in color with a nice smooth, creamy, lasting head, good lacing, and the nitro cascade.

Smelled and tasted heavily of caramel malt, with some woody notes, and a sweet stickyness.

Feel was a bit thinner than I expected, kind of watery really.

Overall I'm not that impressed, but it was drinkable.

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Photo of righthereisay
3.59/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased a single bottle at Brew Bros in Mt Lebanon, PA.

NOT impressed by the small. It smelled like cheap beer. Nothing very noticable..

HOWEVER, this tasted nice. Not complex, but not a nice flavor. Very nice body and very smooth, I could see a bunch of Scottish guys throwing these down like water. I am pleased.

This is a beer for an entire night, or maybe with dinner. It is not a treat, as it is pretty simple, and not too flavorful.

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Photo of Illtryit
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours perfect copper color. Nitro induced cream colored head. 2 inches of foam. Foams coats my glass throughout the beer.

Not a whole lot of aroma. A little malt is all.

Taste is sweet and cream. Vanilla, roasted barley, a little burnt toast taste too.

Because of the nitro can, the feel is VERY smooth and creamy. Soft carbonation. Hearty.

Overall, this is a very good brew. Great as an after dinner drink.

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Photo of Fenris244
3.69/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the flying saucer

Totally caught of guard by the stout like creaminess of the head, clear amber in color after the head made it's way to the top, creamy stuff

Very clean in the nose, to the point that I hardly smell a thing

Clean in flavor too, slight hops and slight malt, I quite like it though, bit of a metallic taste on the finish

Creamy but light in body, winning combination

Overall, I'm a fan, refreshing yet creamy, light in flavor but a great beer for me and summer time in texas

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Photo of damndirtyape
2.62/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Clear 12oz bottle (no date) poured into a shaker pint glass:

Appearance: Clear dark coppery orange color with an off-white head. Initial 1/2" foam died down to a thin skin across the top and a good ring. Good strands and islands of lacing noted.

Smell: Hmm....I wonder if this bottle had been out too long. Smell is predominantly skunked hops with a very faint hint of malt in the background. No, not good.

Taste: Skunked hops up front and at the end, with a malty middle. I can tell there is some sweetness and scotch ale trying to get out, but it's overwhelmed by the skunk flavor. It's not bad, but damn, it's not a good scotch ale either.

Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation but still spicy on the tongue. Beer really clings to the teeth. Thickness under the carbonation is slick and smooth though, but the skunked hop flavor smell I think is throwing off the mouthfeel also.

Overall / drinkability: This is now 2 for 2 in the past 3 months that I have been unable to get a good bottle of this beer that I had many years ago and loved. Either this stuff does not keep fresh or the clear glass is ruining it. I suspect it's the clear glass is ruining the beer in the store while it sits on the shelf. If I can find a bottle I know is really really fresh I'll buy it again and review again, but otherwise I think I'm going to skip this one.

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Photo of MinnesotaRIS
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours with med-low body with a white, slightly rocky head that goes down at an average rate. Dark copper brown and brilliantly clear.

S - malt and very low hopping. Cara aroma. Rich, full nose that is kind of lagery. Slight raisiny and sweet.

T - tastes of very slight roasty malt; well balanced across its base. Maybe a slight hop but again it is lagery. Caramel taste. Low bitterness.

M - smooth yet a touch sharp. Very round. Pleasant beer.

I recommend it. Great Scotch ale example.

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Photo of CHickman
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear reddish copper color with a creamy/foamy 1 finger tan head that fades slowly, leaving a nice creamy ring around the top; decent lacing that slides down the glass fast.

Smells of sweet malt, roasted grains, caramel, light floral hops, wet bread, yeast or wheat and other components of bread, soft fruit and an oaky note like it was aged; this was a mellow nose, and not as strong as I thought it would be, which was just fine with me as I thought that it was nice.

Tastes of sweet malt, roasted grains, caramel, light floral hops, wet bread, yeast, wheat, light sour apple, oak barrel or a red wine-like residue, butter, grass, light burnt wood or a smoked grain hint, and herbs that trail off sweet and on the dry side. This was pretty complex, yet simple and tasty at the same time.

Mouthfeel was creamy and smooth, with low carbonation, a buttery and almost velvety feel on the tongue and a light to medium body. If you like malty beers then this is a highly drinkable brew; I enjoyed it and could make it a session beer if I was in the malt for a malt dominant beer with just the right amount of sweetness.

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Photo of Pandawa
4.76/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle Design: One of my absolute favorites. great design on the front and informative on the back.

Pours a deep ruby/amber with not too big of a head, making it one of the easier ones to pour. Contributes to a lack of aroma, one of the only things its missing. Head dies down, great lacing.

Taste: Smootest ale on the market, light enough to drink a few but not taste like flavored water. Tastes like a bottled Scottish pasture, earthy, vibrant, and lively. Sweeter rather than bitter.

An excellent Scottish Ale, and one of my all time favorites (even though I tend to like heavy beers like Russian Imperials and the like). Goes excellent with Junmai (dry) sake.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Buying this beer was really a shot in the dark. I've never even seen it before, let alone heard anything about it. But, hey, got to live a little, right? Here it goes:

A: A deep dark orange body. It's thick, as is the white head that accompanies it. Numerous areas of lacing on the glass.

S: A very medicinal/phenolic nose. It's quite different from any ales I've ever come into contact with. Some herbal aromas, tart fruits, and oak hues make an appearance as well. It's big and strong - not bad at all.

T: I'm not sure about this one. At first, there's strong roasted coffee, pepper, and some relatively weak hops. There's a unique (not necessarily pleasant) earthiness, and a warming spicy yeast that blends with a touch of whiskey and plum. To be honest, it's a bit bland. It's not mellow in a good way, just sort of lifeless.

M: Low carb, with a slight watery texture. Definitely not as heavy as it looks.

O: This was a unique beer, to say the least. There are a lot of ales out there, and I'm always up to trying new things. I regret to say, though, that I won't be having this again. I'll still be keeping my eye out for more Scottish imports in the future - I'm always in the market for redemption.

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Photo of AdamMY
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of MadeInOregon
1.8/5  rDev -52.9%
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.

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Photo of NaLoGra
4.87/5  rDev +27.5%
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.

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Photo of Homebrew35
2.98/5  rDev -22%
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.

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Photo of bsp77
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of pocwolf
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of jar2574
3.06/5  rDev -19.9%
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.

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Photo of LebronJeremy
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

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Photo of nrbw23
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of foogerd
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of rsdaugherty
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
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 ¼ 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

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
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).

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Photo of rootbeerman
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of beancounter
2.96/5  rDev -22.5%
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.

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Photo of artdob
2.41/5  rDev -36.9%
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.

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Belhaven Scottish Ale from Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 2,162 ratings