Documented history of Belhaven Brewery in Scotland dates back to 1719, although with the wells and some cellar vaults known to date from around the Reformation, some pre-16th century beer production might have occurred at the site. John Johnstone took ownership of the site in 1719, which is the widely accepted date from which the brewery started brewing for commercial sale.
The Johnstone dynasty ended almost a century later in 1815, when Ellis Dudgeon married into the Johnstone family. For nearly 150 years, the brewery traded as Dudgeon & Co. Under Ellis and his successor—son-in-law Alexander Hunter—the brewery produced a wide variety of ales.
When commercial rail reached Dunbar in 1846, it both opened Belhaven up to a wider audience but conversely exposed the brewery to competition from further afield. At the time, Dudgeons diversified the business to focus on the maltings side (while still producing beer but in smaller quantities). It is thought that this diversification enabled Dudgeons to survive the widespread changes affecting other smaller Scottish breweries, whose numbers dwindled as a result of closure or amalgamation.
Through both world wars, Dudgeon continued malting and brewing for the military with a notable key customer—Belhaven Beers. After World War II, Sandy Dudgeon Hunter (a relative of Ellis) joined the firm and spearheaded the successful development of award-winning ales.
By the 1970s, the malting side of the business that had seen the company survive two world wars was feeling the strain of competition from modern automated plants. In 1972, family ownership came to an end as the business was sold. But this end was just the beginning of a 20-year vibrant and significant period of growth for Belhaven.
A management buyout in 1993 led by Stuart Ross enabled the management team to further expand and develop the business, resulting in a successful flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. In 2005, Greene King bought Belhaven.
Belhaven has been brewing its Scottish Ale longer than any other beer. Malty and mildly hoppy, it has a stunning ruby color in the glass and delivers a sweet, smooth and creamy finish. Its Wee Heavy is a 6.5 percent ABV classic Scottish heavy, yet it has a lightness of flavor and a great reddish color in the glass.(www.belhaven.co.uk)