Belhaven – or “Beautiful harbour” – nestles among the rolling barley fields of the beautiful East Lothian coast, around 20 miles east of Edinburgh. For nearly 300 years, we have brewed in this place using only the finest local barley and choicest hops.
Established in 1719, Belhaven is Scotland’s oldest working brewery. With abundant local barley, fine water from the brewery well and access to markets up and down the coast, Belhaven was the perfect place for a brewery back then, and it still is today.
Brewing has an ancient history in the land around Dunbar. Monks are believed to have begun brewing there as early as 1150AD. Records from the 1550s show Belhaven Ale being supplied to troops at Dunbar Castle.
In 1719, Dunbar market gardener John Johnstone purchased a plot of land close to Belhaven Bay, founded a brewing dynasty which was to last for 250 years and a brewery which would last much longer
Skip a few generations and a couple of fires and by 1837 our beers were being advertised in the London Morning Chronicle – “And such was their qualities that the Emperor of Austria selected them… on which occasion the Emperor declared “It was the burgundy of Scotland”.
What a man.
The brewery and maltings persevered through the wars and upheavals of the early 20th Century and was eventually sold by John Johnstone’s descendants in 1972. Belhaven survived the brewery closures and consolidation and prospered by launching innovative new beers like Belhaven Best, the first nitro-dispense ale in the UK
Belhaven’s brewing history dates back to the 12th century AD and our current brewery was founded in 1719, so with almost 300 years of continuous brewing we’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. Believe it or not, we’ve always been a forward-looking bunch and we count ourselves lucky today that we’re able to brew up exciting new beers in this historic spot, as well as perfecting the old favourites.
In 2011, a £1m investment was made in a new, cutting-edge brew house.
New technology sits alongside the best of the old traditions, allowing our brewers to experiment and create excellent beers in any style.