Howling winds, torrential rain and almost warm enough to take off the thermal underwear. Yes it’s summer in chilly Jocko-land. Still, we’re a hardy bunch. So let’s kid on we’re sitting at a pavement cafe, using the sunshade as a sunshade and not a brolly, and sip on a light and fruity, made-for-summer, wheat beer.
Belhaven Brewery is situated on the shores of the Firth of Forth at the small harbour of the same name in the Royal Burgh of Dunbar – about 30 miles east of Edinburgh. The brewery was founded by Benedictine monks around 1415 and the present brewery was built in 1719. It’s the largest regional brewery in Scotland, and is one of the oldest in Britain.
For many years Belhaven also acted as a maltings, germinating and kilning the barley that is widely grown in East Lothian and the Borders and supplying not only its own brewery but also whisky distilleries. Two malting kilns from 1719 still survive.
They brew a wide range of ales but the one I’m reviewing today is Belhaven Wheat Beer.
“Weizenbier or ‘Wheat Beer’, uses malted wheat in at least a third of its material grist, creating a highly individual and refreshing taste.”
This beer pours a slightly hazy, honey-gold colour with a good foamy head although this soon shrinks to something a little thinner – it still manages to leave a little lace though.
The aroma is slightly sour at first, before the fruity tones turn it sweeter. It’s a little grainy, and there’s a good sense of floral hops, but the overwhelming aroma is of fruit – oranges mostly, but there’s a hint of banana in there too. Quite a pleasant bouquet.
It’s medium-bodied with a slightly spritzy mouthfeel, and the initial taste is more fruit. Bananas, apples, oranges – it’s almost overwhelmingly fruity. There’s a slight musty edge to it, and there’s also a suggestion of sourness…or perhaps tartness. The finish is relatively dry and it leaves a slightly sticky aftertaste.
at 4.8% ABV, this wasn’t too bad a beer. Scotland isn’t exactly famous for the production of wheat beers, in fact I can’t think of more than one or two other examples. Maybe that’s because traditionally, wheat beer is a summer brew and we don’t get summer all that often.
I thought this beer could’ve done with being a little more spicy, and a little less bland – OK, it wasn’t really bland, but it wasn’t very exciting either. Pleasant enough, but no world-beater.
I would imagine it’s quite a light and refreshing beer that’s well-suited to a hot afternoon, but I expect I’ll never know for sure.
Would I drink it again? – Och Aye, next summer…