An eventful year in beer

Belhaven Brewery marks three centuries in business

Limited edition glassware is being distributed to mark the anniversary

THIS will be a big year for Belhaven as the brewer and pub company celebrates its 300th anniversary.

There will be a year-long series of events at the Dunbar brewery and across the company’s estate to mark the tricentennial, alongside the launch of a limited edition beer.

A 4.5% ABV pale ale, 1719 is available in cask, keg and bottled formats.

Gordon Muir, Belhaven’s marketing controller, said the new beer continues a long-standing tradition at the brewery.

“The whole thrust of our birthday celebrations is a celebration of 300 years of being forward-looking, innovative and modern,” said Muir.

“The last thing we wanted to do was brew a recipe from 300 years ago or another old fashioned style of beer. So it’s a very clean, very hop-forward, very bright, modern pale ale-style beer. That’s really the philosophy of it: the innovation, the modernity, as well as the fact we’ve had 300 years of expertise to get us where we are.”

Meanwhile the brewery itself, which has been owned by Greene King since 2005, will upgrade its visitor centre at a cost of £500,000. The facility will reopen in the summer, when the brewery will host a weekend music festival to mark the anniversary.

Muir said the anniversary provided the stimulus to follow through on plans that had been a long-time in the making.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to combine our big 300 year story with something we’ve been meaning to do for a couple of years,” said Muir.

“There’s a huge untapped market of food and drink tourism in Scotland. And as the home of Scottish brewing we’ve probably not, until now, tooled ourselves up to really do it justice.”

An extensive refurbishment of the brewery’s visitor areas, museum, shop and bar will aim to establish the site as a tourist attraction, and Muir said the goal is to attract 10,000 visitors through the doors in the course of the next year.

“It’s a big investment for our anniversary year, but it’s one that will be paying back for years to come,” he said.

In addition to the development of the brewery there will also be birthday parties across Belhaven’s managed estate, and the company’s owned and operated venues will be discounting Belhaven Best by 30p for 300 days.

Meanwhile, point of sale kits, which include commemorative glassware, bunting, bar runners, beer mats and coasters will be distributed to lessees and the wider free-trade. There will also be digital materials for licensees to use on their own websites and social media.

Muir encouraged licensees to “really celebrate an icon of Scottish brewing that’s having a landmark year and use it as a way to remind customers how great our on-trade is”.

He added that operators can capitalise on the anniversary by featuring the 300th anniversary point of sale materials prominently and interacting with the brand’s social media channels.

“We’re only 300 once so we want to make the most of it,” said Muir.