Belhaven Brewery

Belhaven Brewery
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Belhaven Brewery

Located approximately a mile (1.5 km) west of the centre of Dunbar in East Lothian the Belhaven Brewery was founded in 1719 and remains the oldest surviving independent brewery in Scotland and one of the oldest in Britain. It is likely that brewing was originally carried out by Benedictine Monks on the land around 'Bele' (now Belhaven) granted to them by King David I (c. 1080 - 1153). Remains within the current buildings suggest a brewery existed on the site from at least the 16th Century and records show that Belhaven ale was supplied to soldiers garrisoned at nearby Dunbar Castle in the 1550s. On tasting the ale as he passed through the area, James Boswell (1740-95) noted that it was "the best small beer I ever had". Although primarily serving the local population, the beer had, by the 19th Century, established a reputation as far afield as London and even Vienna, where it found favour with the Austrian Emperor. The brewery buildings were reconstructed after fires in 1814 and 1887.

More recently, Belhaven has built its business on the popularity of 'real ales' and now offers a range of more than 20 different brews. Today, the company has an annual turnover of around £38 million, markets its products internationally across Europe and North America and owns a chain of public houses.

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