Scottish Beer


Can of Tennent's Lager

Can of Tennent’s Lager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roald Smeets, Wellpark Brewery is a brewery situated in Duke Street in the East End of Glasgow, Scotland. It was founded in 1740 on the bank of the Molendinar Burn by Hugh and Robert Tennent. It is currently owned by C&C Group plc, which purchased the Tennent Caledonian Breweries subsidiary in late August 2009 from Belgian brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev (formerly known as InBev).

The company is most noted for the production of Tennent’s Lager, Scotland’s market leading brand of pale lager since it was first produced at the Wellpark Brewery in 1885.

Wellpark Brewery was originally known as the Drygate Brewery. It was founded as H&R Tennent in 1740 at Drygate Bridge, near Glasgow Cathedral, by Hugh and Robert Tennent, although brewing had been taking place at the same site on the banks of the Molendinar Burn since 1556, making it the oldest continuous commercial concern in Glasgow. Hugh Tennent’s sons, John and Robert, continued the family business, trading as J&R Tennent from 1769. The business expanded in the 1790s when the Tennent family purchased the neighbouring brewery of William McLehose, and renamed the 5-acre (20,000 m2) site Wellpark Brewery.

The firm originally brewed stout and strong export ales. By the mid-19th century J&R Tennent was the world’s largest bottled beer exporter. Robert Tennent died in 1826 and John Tennent in 1827. Hugh Tennent (the eldest son of Robert) then assumed control of the business. Hugh Tennent retired in 1855 with his fifth son, Charles Tennent, taking over, but he died in 1864, some months before his father. The brewery was subsequently operated by trustees on behalf of Charles Tennent’s sons, Archibald and Hugh.

In 1884 Hugh Tennent took control of the company and first brewed Tennent’s lager in 1885. He later built a new lager brewery on the Wellpark site, which was begun in 1889 and completed in 1891. J&R Tennent produced the first draught lager in 1924, the first canned lager in 1935 and the first keg lager in 1963.

J&R Tennent was acquired by Charrington United Breweries in 1963, and in 1966 formally merged with United Caledonian Breweries, Charrington’s other Scottish subsidiary, to form Tennent Caledonian Breweries. The new company’s brewing was concentrated at the Wellpark Brewery and the Heriot Brewery in Edinburgh. Wellpark was redeveloped between 1965 and 1968 but Heriot was demolished in the 1990s. In 1967, Charringtons merged with Bass to form the Bass Charrington Group. It was later bought by the Belgian brewer Interbrew (now InBev) in June 2000, which became part of Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2008.

C&C Group of Ireland announced a deal to buy the brewery and the Tennent’s brand from AB-InBev on 27 August 2009. It also agreed to acquire the Scottish and Irish distribution rights to Beck’s and Stella Artois as part of the £180 million offer.

Tennent’s Lager is Scotland’s best-selling pale lager, with approximately 60% of the Scottish lager market. The lager was first brewed in 1885 by Hugh Tennent, and in 1893 it won the highest award at the Chicago World’s Fair. It is described as a distinctive, well-balanced lager whose sweet, malty flavours combine with a tangy hoppiness to create its crisp, refreshing character. Tennent’s Lager is certified by the Vegetarian Society as being suitable for vegetarians.

The lager was once famous for the design of its cans, which featured photos of various female models printed onto the side – known affectionately as “The Lager Lovelies”. This feature was used by Tennent’s up until the final campaign in 1989. Today, authentic original Lager Lovely cans are highly sought after among collectors. The can design is now a plain silver colour, with the company’s trademark large red “T” featuring prominently.

In the rest of the UK, the brand is better known for its super strength lager, Tennent’s Super, the blue can that has 9% alcohol, so one can contains 4.5 units.
Brand portfolio

Tennent’s Lager (4% ABV)
Tennent’s Special (3.5% ABV)
Tennent’s Ember (4.2% ABV)
Tennent’s Light Ale (3.1% ABV)
Tennent’s Super (9.0% ABV)
Sweetheart Stout

The Tennent’s brand is used for sponsoring music and sport including the Scotland’s largest outdoor music festival: T in the Park. Tennent’s previously sponsored T On The Fringe (part of the Edinburgh Festival), Triptych and Tennents ViTal in Northern Ireland. Tennent’s sponsorship of T in the Park is continuing in the wake of its acquisition by C&C Group.

In football the brand has been used to sponsor Scottish Futsal and historically the Scottish Cup for 18 years, Tennents’ Sixes and the Tennent’s UK Snooker Championship even so the latter was held at the time in Preston in England. Tennent’s also previously sponsored the Scotland national football team, replacing supermarket chain Morrisons. This deal was signed on 3 October 2006 and came into effect in time for the European Championship qualifying victory against France on 7 October 2006. This sponsorship came to an end on 24 May 2010.

Tennents sponsor Scottish football’s “Old Firm” duo, Celtic and Rangers for the start of the 2010/2011 season when their contracts with Carling expired the previous season. Also in July, they signed to sponsor English Football League One Club Preston North End.

Greene King Brewery

Greene King Brewery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Belhaven brewery is a brewery near Dunbar in Scotland owned by Greene King.

Belhaven claims to have begun brewing in 1719. In that year the burgh of Dunbar levied a local tax on brewers to fund civic improvements. Since Belhaven’s site is immediately outside the limits controlled by the then Dunbar Council, and hence would be free of the ‘impost’ or tax, it is possible that the 1719 date records the relocation of an existing business. In the first half of the 18th century Belhaven had more than 24 small and large competitors nearby in Dunbar, Belhaven and West Barns. Only three, the Dunbar, Belhaven (then called Johnstone’s and later Dudgeon’s) and West Barns breweries survived until the middle of the 19th century and only Belhaven lasted through the 20th, in part due to its small scale of production and its much larger malting capacity.

The manager’s house (which sits to the west side of the approach lane) was built c.1790 but extended several times. It has been detached from the brewery for at least 50 years and is currently under private ownership. Its grounds include a small pedimented folly screening the brewery from the house. Its entrance gates were previously the jaw-bones of a whale (as also found on nearby North Berwick Law) but these have eroded to stumps.

By 2005 Belhaven had become the largest and oldest surviving independent brewery in Scotland. In August 2005, the Suffolk based brewery Greene King announced a £187 million takeover bid for Belhaven. This offer was accepted and completed by November 2005. Greene King has stated that Belhaven will retain its brands and brewery following the takeover.

Domestically, in 2006 Belhaven distributed only four brands of beer: Best, Best Extra Cold, St.Andrew’s Ale, and 80 Shilling. In the past there were many others: regulars like stouts, porters, brown ales, 20/- to 110/- ales (rising at 10/- increments) and even lagers as well as periodic specials celebrating anniversaries and royal events. Even further back harvest ales and 2d ales were the brewery’s standby. Now Best Extra Cold is claimed to be the United Kingdom’s first non-stout extra cold dark beer. St.Andrew’s Ale and Scottish Ale are exported, primarily to the United States. As well as its own brands, Belhaven also bottles and distributes beers from other breweries, including Tennents and Stella Artois.

Belhaven sponsored Dundee United for six seasons between 1987 and 1993.