Brewer – Belhaven
Classification – Scottish Ale
Strength – 4.2% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye - Regal, elegant, deep walnut.
On the nose - Malt bonanza. Nutty. Nice.
On the tongue - A rich, sweet and refined malty treat.
On the subject - Established in 1719, and now under the watchful eye of the increasingly persuasive Greene King, this brand is likely to become more widely known now than ever before. After nearly three hundred years - that's not before time.
On the market - Speaking as a resident on the English side of the Scottish border, beers wearing the Belhaven name can prove shockingly hard to locate. Options are far greater on home turf. But fear not, for the brewery's online store is more than able to supply your needs.
On the whole - 8/10
This is not for the faint hearted.
Those with a tendency to flee in terror at the sight of a full bodied, malt-rich ale should seek shelter without delay.
Seriously, if dominant malt sweetness ain't your bag, you should run to the nearest cave right now.
For the rest of you who remain - an absolute treat awaits you.
This, my malt-savouring comrades, is a veritable marvel of a brew, which will have no problem injecting some extra delight into an evening of your choice.
'Choice', though, is a pretty key word here - because for all it's character, and for all the appeal that stems from that character - I do doubt that this beer would remain a favourite if it were to be consumed with any great regularity. This is not the kind of brew you settle with for a whole season.
That sweetness, raised to intensely rich heights from a sumptuous malt base of wonderfully aggressive potency, would surely become overwhelming to the palate if taken in too enthusiastically, and too often.
But as a, for instance, twice weekly autumnal indulgence - there can be few better candidates in the world of British beer.
Dark berries and honey swirl and interweave, with the subtlest of dry assistance from the muted hops, and the almost macho consistency of the walnut coloured fluid - all make for a taste event to better any dessert course after a hearty Sunday roast.
In actual fact, the twang of spiced Bramley's and the deep red hue make this a viable alternative to a Christmas pudding, or a formidable rival for a freshly baked blackberry and apple pie.
There really is a sense of the old 'naughty but nice' after-dinner appeal to this beer.
Though, personally, I wouldn't want to wait around even for my starter to arrive before tucking into this liquid feast.
Without doubt, one glass of this would be not enough.
However, three glasses would probably prove difficult, and might even trigger a bout of mild regret.
But a couple of these beauties I can enthusiastically recommend to those who still retain (quite against the run of current fashion) a fondness for robustly malty ales.
Personally, I certainly do retain such a fondness, and beers like this remind me why.