Belhaven Best | Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

74 Reviews
Read the review
Belhaven BestBelhaven Best

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

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 3.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JISurfer on 05-03-2003

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 158
Photo of Douggie53
1.82/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Completely tasteless. Whether this has anything to do with the abv or not, I've yet to determine. A pity, as the Belhaven St Andrews is much more flavoursome at just over 4%...... not dissimilar to Marstons Pedigree in its taste. It quenches the thirst, but water's cheaper and has just about as much flavour!

 309 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
3.09/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pint from nitro can, poured into a glass. amber in color, thick head from the nitro pour. mild, bland flavors. easy drinking but not much flavor. Wouldn't recommend.

 171 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.14/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Sure, widgets make for an impressive pour - the first few times you see it. Unless you have the mental capacities of a child the 'oscillating sandstorm' visual quickly becomes tired and gimmicky. It's ironic too that a device meant to impart a distinguishing feature actually makes for identical looking beers; the artificially-induced foam is always the same. This amber ale looks as though it were made from a mold.

Belhaven Best also smells pretty much like every other widget beer I've had: wet cardboard drenched in corn syrup. Well, maybe "drenched" is a strong word, but this bouquet has a sweetness that I'd be surprised wasn't high-fructose fueled (think of cheap, mass-produced caramel, like the stale little squares wrapped in clear plastic).

The flavour does a better job of passing for an all-malt offering (though the impressions of stale, inferior quality grain and industrial sweetener return in the aftertaste). As is typical of British ales, there are subtle hints of dried fruit esters and chalky water minerals, both of which I suspect would be more pronounced were it not for that suffocating blob of floating nitrogen.

You might not guess it from this sample, but Belhaven makes a few beers so well-brewed and distinct that they're hailed by beer judges and journalists alike as the best examples of their respective styles (see: Belhaven Wee Heavy, Scottish Ale, St. Andrews Ale). Pick up any textbook on beer or brewing, flip to the section on British ales and you're sure to see Belhaven listed...

This offering, however, is a lesson in how to make bad beer - its maltiness is frail, the yeast muted, the hops non-existent; despite its agreeable strength (4.8%) only those with simple, undiscerning palates would contemplate ordering a second round. (Frankly, I don't even care to finish my first.) Putting cardboard through the blender would be just as stimulating to the senses.

Belhaven Best is undoubtedly Belhaven's worst. What can I say? I guess you gotta make money somehow and, for reasons that I'll never understand, the majority of beer drinkers prefer something insipid, predictable, and undistinguished. I can't blame the marketing department for being unable to pass-up the "The Cream of Scottish Beer" tagline but I certainly don't have to support it. Nevermind a repeat purchase - this is a beer I wish I never bought in the first place.

 2,386 characters

Photo of knodeljr
4.94/5  rDev +51.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For the four-plus years we lived in Scotland, Belhaven Best was the beer on which I always fell back. It was so creamy and smooth -- with taste -- that I esteemed it the "Best." I also like really hearty beers, of which Belhaven Best is not; but for everyday drinking -- especially with meals -- I loved Belhaven Best. It's like the Irish Guinness when poured in a glass. Lots of gas that needs to settle out. What's left is a great, smooth, TASTY beer!

 453 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.25/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

440 ml can purchased from LCBO for $1.95 CDN. Served cold into a pint glass. Advertised as 4.8% ABV

Appearance - Dark copper color with a bit more than 1 finger of frothy white head. Very dense looking. the beer is crystal clear and has sparse bubbles floating to the top. the head lingers for a very long time thanks to the nitro-can.

Smell - A few sweet aromas and quite floral wild a mild alcohol undertone.

Taste - Sweetish and quite mild. Virtually no hope presence and the bitterness is very low for a bitter. Flavors while full do not linger nor are they particularly strong.

Mouthfeel - Wet finish, with creamy mouthfeel. Body is thinner but compensated by the remains of the head.

Overall - Not a bad beer to me a bit of a cross with English Pale Ales. While decent there's nothing spectacular about this either. Worth a try.

 839 characters

Photo of dreamchaser
4.02/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Clear, light amber in colour, with a thick, rich, creamy staying head. Faint hop aroma. Taste is very light, subtle and creamy. A delicious balance of soft malts carrying faint notes of nut and caramel. Faintly carbonated, and mouthfeel is very round and smooth. A very delicate yet full-flavoured beer.

 303 characters

Photo of BigBry
3.38/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on tap with dinner on our vacation to Glasgow.
Dark amber color with a decent sized head, good retention that leaves behind a ton of lacing.
Smell of sweet malts, maybe some wheat beer aromas, no real discernable hops. Taste is thin with no one flavor jumping out. I don't want to say bland, just not alot going on. Average taste and flavor, thin body and mouthfeel. A drinkable sessional because it won't overpower your taste buds, or fill you up. Not sure about it being 'the best'.

 493 characters

Photo of canucklehead
3.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At only about $2 a tall can this is a decent bitter with the creamy mouthfeel of a nitro can. The beer is certainly not too complex but I enjoyed the toffee notes and the smooth finish. As Fall approaches this is the kind of easy drinking beer that replaces the wheat and light lagers from the summer. I prefer the Courage Directors Ale in cans for the same price but I will buy some more of this brew.

 402 characters

Photo of prosper
3.77/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is typical of a nitro beer. About the same as a kilkenny, maybe, a touch lighter.

Smells of sweet grains, and some light fruityness. Actally smells pretty dang appealing right now.

Taste is so-so. There's that same yeasty fruitiness, soft breads, and then some toasty grains. Not as sweet as the smell would lead you to suspect. Just a touch of a dark toffee or caramel there, too, but overall the impression is more toasty biscuity than caramelly.

Mouthfeel is on par with a nitro beer. Satisfying, though a touch on the thin side I think.

Overall - decent, but not somethign I'd seek out.

 606 characters

Photo of brewskifan55
3.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Ensign Ewart, Edinburgh

A: Light amber, a very huge 2 finger head that hung around. Great lacing.

S: Light malts, honey,

T: Malty, toffee, sweet, frothy, creamy. A slight bitter finish.

M: Medium with creamy carbonation.

O: A decent bitter. Obviously much better on tap.

 290 characters

Photo of thehyperduck
3.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

440 mL can from the LCBO, listed at 4.8%; best before July 2012. This is a new one for me - I haven't had a nitro ale in a while, probably because I'm usually not all that impressed with them. But I'll try anything once.

Pours an attractive amber-honey colour, cloudy at first, but translucent once the layers have separated out. On the surface sits one finger of smooth, creamy head that sticks around for quite a while. The aroma is sweet with lots of biscuity malts; toffee, honey and (most particularly) butterscotch are rather prominent. Fairly enticing, and definitely more robust than a lot of the nitro ales I've had.

Fairly enjoyable taste, but no real complexity about it. Biscuity malts and toasted bread provide some backbone, with sweet toffee and butterscotch dominating the profile. Rather buttery, with light hints of orchard fruit with only some slight, tea-like dryness late in the sip. The aftertaste is sweet and malty. Silky smooth mouthfeel like most nitro cans, due to the very mild carbonation. Light-bodied and kind of watery, but drinkable as all hell.

I found this highly enjoyable for a nitro can. Obviously the mouthfeel of these nitro brews is an acquired preference - one I have certainly never claimed to possess - but from an objective standpoint, this is a serviceable brew that I don't have a lot of complaints about. That being said - it's not one of the better bitters I've had in recent memory. The balance is rather poor, and there isn't a lot of bitterness, although it does finish cleanly.

Final Grade: 3.35, an acceptable B minus grade. Good stuff, and as a bonus for any frugal UK ale fans, it's quite cheap in these parts as well. Hopefully the LCBO keeps bringing in Belhaven's Best, because it's easily the best nitro beer I've picked up from there in years. Simple, yet solid. Worth a try, but not something to move mountains in search of.

 1,891 characters

Photo of slitherySOB
2.59/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I was a bit surprised with the nitro can. I'm used to nitro widgets only being in Guinness. Anyways, this bitter pours out an amber colour with a thick, white, creamy head. It goes downhill from there. The smell has some light butterscotch, grassy hops, tea like aroma, honey, and an odd smell that I can't quite described. Something kind of, gassy. Tastes sweet with toffee and malts, with a hint of brown sugar. Some grassy and citrus hops cleans the palate afterwards. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Overall, a rather disappointing English style bitter.

 557 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
2.36/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

From a 440 ml blue can, abv. listed at 3.5%. Pours out a slightly hazed rustic copper hue, with a tall tight creamy off-white head that retains.

Sweet bready malt and honey on the nose, light leafy, grassy hops. Some dry grain in the background.

Flavour starts out sweet, almost cloyingly so, akin to a honey cake, while mild spicy, herbal hops finish things out on the back end. Seems watered down and thin in general.

Mouthfeel is light and thin, somewhat creamy texture from the nitro can, low carbonation.

Doesn't make that great of an impression, I would imagine this is the type of light mediocre domestic fare that folks in the U.K. chug down without thinking twice about. Glad I managed to just pick up a single of this stuff.

 739 characters

Photo of TheHammer
3.61/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm having this on the recommendation of my brother, and low and behold this is actually a nitro-can.

Appearance: It took a while for the carbonation to settle, even for a nitro but it produced a finger and a half of head that sustained and laced like crazy. The body is amber with a tan coloured creamy head.

Smell: An almost butterscotch like arroma (although more on the scotch side of things) with a tea and honey note. It took a bit of warming to come out, but when it did it was quite nice. However, I think I'm also getting an odd smell that I'm not used to and it's probably coming from the nitro.

Taste: A malt explosion as toffee like malt hits you at the start of the beer, then gives way to a creamy mild smokey scotch taste that the nitro seems to reign in quite a bit and then ending with another hit of malt and honey taste. It's different that is for sure.

Mouthfeel: I'm honestly a bit conflicted on this one. I mean it's creamy, offers a sweet malt aftertaste that quickly departs and doesn't overstay it's welcome, doesn't cling and transitions well, but part of me gets the feeling that maybe the nitro isn't needed. I dunno if that sound crazy or not.

Drinkability: Normally I find that nitro enhanced beers tend to be heavy offerings that sit in your stomach like caulking. This is the exact opposite as if not for the massive amount of malt, would come across as almost too light. I had not problems getting it down and it seems to sit down quite well.

Final Thoughts: I touched base on it on the mouthfeel, but I honestly wouldn't mind trying this beer without the nitro. I will say this though, this is probably the first beer I've had where I actually wanted to see a bit more bitterness involved. Still I'd recommend it regardless, but that being said I can't stand IPAs so take from that what you will.

 1,836 characters

Photo of allergictomacros
3.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nitro-opaque clears to amber liquid and thick tan foam.

S - Nose is a bit musty but bland, hint of fruitiness. Overall, low in aroma-quotient though.

T - Some light lemony hop, some nuttiness and husky grain. A bit on the tart side. Hints of molasses and dark sugar.

M - Smooth, creamy feel for obvious reasons. Light body.

D - Easy drinking, moderately flavoured brew. A true sessioner.

 395 characters

Photo of peensteen
2.91/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pale amber orange colour, nearly 2 fingers of dense white head, some lace left behind. Smell is biscuity malt and caramel, graham crackers, faint traces of honey and at points some floral notes. Taste is pretty biscuity and malty, oddly metallic, light fruity and floral points in aftertaste, light underlying bitterness throughout. Mouthfeel is light and fairly watery though the medium body makes this fairly creamy on the tongue, minimal carbonation. This was juts OK, nothing overly interesting and if that metallic taste wasn't there that would help its case quite a bit.

 576 characters

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.71/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Surprised to see this in a bar down at Bewdley while on a pub crawl. Took a half pinr purely to review:

Good amber body with a large, deep white head.

The aromas given off were few, the beer being dispensed so cold, when it warmed some dark, malty fruity smells appeared.

The taste was also on the malty side, pleasant without setting the world alight.

I little on the fizzy side, like most keg bitters, but I still enjoyed this: the only non-cask ale I had during the crawl.

 479 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.61/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

440ml Can

Appearance – Clear amber/copper colour with an above average size frothy off-white/beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation visible and there is an amazing amount of lacing. The head lasted for around 10 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel, pears, tea

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and and it feels very creamy on the tongue. I can taste malts, caramel, and quite a bit of a roasted nut flavour. There is also some notes of tea and a bit of a pear juice sweetness. It finishes with a malty roasted slightly sweet aftertaste.

Overall – This is a very drinkable beer that has just enough flavour to keep it interesting and sessionable. The appearance is fantastic in the glass and it was priced fairly reasonably. I'd buy it again.

 822 characters

Photo of flyingpig
3.01/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reddish amber with a creamy white head that stays for about five minutes before being reduced to a thickish lacing.

Smell wasn't the strongest really. It has some caramel, very light summer fruits that could have been stronger and some malts too.

Could have been a lot stronger. It also has some caramel & malts with the background summer fruits but none of these dominate & a watery taste is apparent when drank.

Light to medium bodied with low carbonation & a very smooth texture that goes down easy due to the watery taste probably.

Average really & not at all what I was expecting; it was nice for a change from the pale lagers that where the only other beers on offer in the pub but not a beer I’d be inclined to get all that often.

1001 Beers Blog:

 797 characters

Photo of Kartoffeln
3.11/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a somewhat dark russet-y copper with some visible carbonation that's strangely static (i.e. just clinging to the glass - I don't think one bubble has moved for minutes now) and a typical nitro-can head: a dense, modestly-sized layer of creamy beige foam with retention for days.

S: Toffee and biscuit malts with a sweet yet raw grain aroma. Hints of honey and grassy hops round out the rather weak nose.

T: Sweet caramel malts and a pleasant note of grain towards the finish, along with faint floral hops and a very vague hint of roastiness.

M: Despite the creamy texture, it's made watery by the thin body and lack of carbonation - combine that with the fairly clean finish and you've got an extremely drinkable ale, just not for entirely good reasons.

D: To be blunt, the beauty of a nitro-can can't make up for the blandness. If you need something light-flavoured and easy-as-water to drink, it's a fine choice, but otherwise not really worthwhile and not much of a bitter at all.

 996 characters

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.26/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nitro-can from the LCBO. Poured into a Kilkenny nonic.

A tempest of light-amber foam courtesy of the nitro-widget eventually settles into a clear, bright amber brew, with a thick creamy head that, like all other nitros, remains steady for the entire pintsworth.

Nose is pretty faint - malty, a bit of hops, caramel, and that unmistakeable "nitro" metallic odor.

Smooth brew, fairly tasty, with a touch of grain and smoke to distinguish it from other BPAs I've encountered along these lines. A bit of fruit, caramel, slightly bitter finish.

Thin and watery, yet creamy. I'm not a fan of the nitro-can system, as I feel the brews tend to feel flat and watery, so its hard for me to be objective. I'll say this: it goes down very smoothly.

If canned pub ale's what your after, I wouldn't put this at the top of my list, but nor would it be near the bottom. It tastes fine, inoffensive, and the low ABV is a plus if sessioning's the thing. It's cheap in Ontario so I might get it again.

 989 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

440ml 'Draught Flow' can, 3.5% ABV - more traditional British Isles pub ale for we new world acolytes (or perhaps apostates).

This beer pours a clear, medium bronzed amber hue, with a top-heavy, rising bubbly menagerie, which eventually renders two fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and wispy eggshell white head, and a Swiss cheese sheen of painted lace around the glass as it very slowly sinks away.

It smells of sweet, mildly toasted cereal grain, cheap honeyed crackers, Corn Pops, and very faint earthy, leafy, and weedy hops.. The taste is softly bready caramel malt, otherworldly corn syrup, wan pome and stone fruit esters, and a light, egregiously late-rising (been there!) earthy and leafy noble hoppiness.

The carbonation, as expected, is quite, quite low-key in its frothy astringencies, the body a solid medium weight, smooth, and oh so very creamy. It finishes still fairly sweet, the generally cereal-heavy malt not taking any guff from any sort of latent and/or lingering bitterness.

A lovely beer, in the tactile sense, as this goes down so smoothly, the nitro puck really showing its stuff. However, for a bitter, there just isn't enough, well, bitterness - and that's not even close to keeping up with the old-country Jones, as it were. As enjoyable as this seems to be, including the senses-preserving ABV, the fundamental shortcomings would prove tiring, and somewhat cloying, whilst considering a night's coming rounds.

 1,447 characters

Photo of bryehn
3.31/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Completely different can than pictured and listed as 4.8% ABV. BB June 2012. Another old favourite I'm revisiting for BA review.

Pours a slightly rusty, honey-amber colour with a smooth and frothy white head. Takes a good two minutes to settle, giving a nice cascade effect as it does.

The aroma is very, very mild and takes a few minutes to be noticable. Smells of sweetened scotch, similar to oak or rum barrel aged beers like Innis & Gunn. I also get dark, toasted malts and a slight graininess.

Tastes of wood with a slight smokey hint to it. Chocolate comes through after that. The finish is more sour than bitter and slightly cloying.

The mouthfeel is quite creamy and smooth; there is little to no carbonation aside from the long-lasting head. One the sourness of the taste's finish wears off, I find a crisp and clean aftertaste.

It certainly isn't bad, but just not as smooth going as I remember. The smoky notes in the taste and sourness in the finish are a bit off-putting for my current palate, but it goes down quite easy after a pint or two.

 1,060 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out has a nice looking deep copper color. The head was creamy looking and white. The smell of the beer is malty and has some nice sweet grainy aromas coming off of it. The taste of the beer has a subtle sweetness upfront that fades into a dry bitterness in the end. The mouthfeel is light but remains creamy. Overall I enjoyed the beer, I like most of what I've had from Belhaven thus far. Not a bad brew to try.

 429 characters

Photo of evlu1441
3.68/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm excited about this beer, if only because it will be my first nitro-can review. I haven't had a nitro-can in years.

I'm quite impressed! The nitro-can have a nice cascade of fine carbonation as expected, though not as interesting as a Guinness. The beer is a darkish copper colour and completely clear. There is a nice centimeter head that is extremely creamy. This looks like a draught beer!

The aroma is very faint, but it is almost entirely malt... And a very sweet roasty malt at that. There are some hints of honey and maybe even vanilla in there.

The flavour is not what I was expecting! It has an incredibly smooth mouthfeel, probably due to the low carbonation. The flavour is kind of subdues by this, and also by the low alcohol content, but it is a pretty decent beer! The malt flavour dominate the pallate. It is slightly sweet, but never too much. There is also some light hop flavour towards the end.

The drinkability of this beer is very high. I could totally sit in a pub and down several pints of this. I might even buy this again if I was in the mood for a light beer with some flavour.

 1,110 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Belhaven Best from Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
3.26 out of 5 based on 158 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.