Belhaven Brewery raises glass to 300th anniversary

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Belhaven Brewery, which lays claims to be the oldest working brewery in Scotland, has unveiled a year-long programme of celebrations to mark its tricentenary.

Founded in 1719 by local man John Johnstone, the brewery has been making beers at its historic site on the outskirts of Dunbar ever since. It took its name Belhaven, which means “beautiful bay”, from the coastal location in East Lothian on which is resides.

Among the events planned to mark the 300th anniversary are the opening of a £500,000 visitor centre, scheduled for this summer, a summer music festival, 300 days of celebrations across Belhaven and Greene King pubs, and Belhaven-themed parties across export nations as far flung as America and Russia.

The brewery, which was acquired by Greene King in 2005, is also launching 1719 – a specially brewed birthday celebration pale ale.

Managing director Matt Starbuck said: “John Johnstone would no doubt be delighted to see his beloved brewery today, not only the oldest working brewery in Scotland and the home of Scottish brewing but a thriving innovative business and a great Scottish success story abroad.

“With 30 per cent of all Belhaven beer now enjoyed overseas and a market leading position at home, Belhaven has plenty to celebrate.”

He added: “We are continuing to invest in Belhaven with a new visitor centre opening this year bringing tourism to Dunbar and we warmly welcome fans of Belhaven beer to join us in celebrating the brewery birthday this year.”

Further planned events include performances from Talisk, the winners of the £25,000 Belhaven Bursary for Innovation in Scottish music, at this year’s Belhaven sponsored New York Tartan Week and the opportunity for customers to win tickets to New York Tartan Week 2020.

Recent interim results from Greene King revealed a near-2 per cent rise in group revenue to just over £1 ­billion for the 24 weeks to 14 October.

Pub company like-for-like sales were up 2.7 per cent, ahead of a market increase of 1.1 per cent over the period.

It posted a 0.2 per cent rise in adjusted profit before tax, at £128.2 million.