Belhaven Black is being given a new look to help the number one Scottish stout capitalise on the huge growth of the category and to help continue its expansion across Scotland and England.

With its rich, dark body and creamy head, stout has long offered drinkers something a little different. The first recorded appearance of stout beer was way back in 1677 and it has remained a firm favourite with drinkers from that day until this. In recent times however, the category has seen a remarkable surge in interest among drinkers and it is, in fact, the fastest-growing segment within beer and is winning share from both ale and lager.

Stout has seen its value grow by a huge 55% compared to a year ago according to CGA OPMS data to February 2023, with growth primarily fuelled by new audiences of younger adult drinkers who are seeking out beers that offer greater character and flavour. Belhaven research shows that these consumers also appreciate the extra creaminess, taste and mouth feel, and ease of drinking, particularly when chilled. This trend has helped stout’s share of the total beer category climb to 8.3%, days the same CGA data.

One brand has long dominated the market and Guinness still accounts for 96.7% of the draught stout market, confirms CGA – but the spike in interest in stout presents a fantastic opportunity for other brewers.

Indeed, you will have seen several brewers attempting to cash in on the stout opportunity with a number of new brands hitting the market in recent times. None, however, can claim the history, tradition, credentials and taste profile of Belhaven Black Scottish Stout, the number-one-selling Scottish stout.

A person in a pub holding a glass of Belhaven Black

Established in 1719, Belhaven Brewery’s unrivalled brewing heritage and expertise truly sets the brand apart – and now, with a bold new look set to launch this summer, Belhaven Black’s star seems set to shine even brighter.

Crafted using pure Scottish water and a unique blend of triple malts sourced from locally grown barley, Belhaven Black is a smooth velvet Scottish stout and has long offered drinkers a premium quality pint that is bursting with roasted malt and chocolate flavours with hints of coffee.

Little surprise then, that it leads the way in Scotland, but the brand is rapidly growing south of the border too – and a new look is being unveiled that will help accelerate that growth.

Belhaven Black is already the number two stout brand in the GB free trade and it’s growing. According to CGA data to March this year, volumes are up a staggering 120% year-on-year while sales by value are up an even more impressive 144%.

While coming from a smaller base, Belhaven Black is actually growing at four times the rate of Guinness, which saw its volumes rise by 30% and value by 35% year-on-year.

It’s easy to see why, as Belhaven Black routinely scores favourably when it comes to taste and aroma with stout drinkers, and delivers a superb quality liquid as well as far better value: the national average free trade price of Belhaven Black is just £3.73 a pint, compared to Guinness at £4.14.

This price competitiveness has never been more important as drinkers face more pressure than ever on their budgets.

A recent survey of new stout drinkers by the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation revealed that Guinness and Belhaven Black were on a par when it came to likelihood to purchase and when trying stout for the first time preferred Black. Affitionally, 52% of Guinness regulars said they would buy Belhaven Black.

And now, with a revamped look about to land, Belhaven Black has everything to significantly grow its share across GB.

Graphic of Belhaven Brewery
The new branding will roll out from this Autumn and the new branding will feature on bespoke glassware (available from October), tap handles and fonts to a wide range of supporting POS. The new look encompasses Belhaven’s famous malting chimneys that have been part of the brewery since 1719 and the swirling energy bursting from the chimneys nods to the depth and drama of the liquid when it is poured into the glass.

The new colours reflect the chocolate and coffee notes present in both the aroma and flavour of this Smooth Velvet Scottish Stout at 4.2% ABV.

So get set, because this summer, Black is most definitely back.

 

Taste test

A recent survey of new stout drinkers by the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation revealed that:

There was almost no statistical difference between Guinness and Belhaven Black when it came to likelihood to purchase, with Guinness at 62% & Belhaven at 60%.

Belhaven scored ahead on flavour and strength, when looking at Just About Right scores (JAR).

The top two boxes combined for Overall Liking put Belhaven ahead at 36% (v Guinness at 34%).

The survey also found that there was little to separate either on colour and, less on aroma.

In addition, 52% of Guinness regulars said they would buy Belhaven Black.

Of those interested in trying stout, 49% had an overall liking for Belhaven Black vs Guinness at 45%.

Phil Crowder, The Forth Inn, Aberfoyle

 

Backing Black

“At one point, it dawned on me that the range of draught beers we had behind the bar were almost all Scottish with only a couple of exceptions: one of them was Guinness. I had tried Belhaven Black and loved it so I decided to get rid of Guinness and replace it with Black so I would be the only pub in Scotland with only Scottish draught beers on tap – a real USP in a popular tourist spot like this.

“When the Guinness rep heard he came in he literally laughed at me and said I was making a huge mistake and that he’d be back in three weeks’ time to put Guinness back in. That was years ago, and I’ve never needed to bring Guinness back.”

 

Belhaven’s brewing heritage

Belhaven Brewery has a rich heritage in brewing stout, having started producing stouts and porter in the mid-1800s.

The turning point was 1950, with awards from the UK and abroad for Belhaven #1 stout, Heavy Stout and Belhaven Sweet Stout. Then followed Trinidad Stout.

Today, Scotland’s favourite stout is still brewed using malted barley, local water and Belhaven yeast, to create a rich, smooth, and creamy stout with a hint of sweet chocolate and a roasted malt finish.

“Stout has seen its value grow by 55% with growth primarily being fuelled by new audiences of younger adult drinkers seeking out beers that offer greater character and flavour.”

Paul Poppy, Sailors Home, Kessingland

“We first got Belhaven Black in about seven or eight years ago and we brought it in as an alternative to Guinness. We removed draught Guinness at the same time but Black proved so popular from day one that we still have it behind the bar and it sells really, really well.

“A lot of new customers do come in and ask for Guinness but virtually everyone will take Black as an alternative if we suggest it and, in my experience, once they have tried it they stick with it.

“The pricing is better than Guinness and that has always been a strong selling point but in recent times with the pressure on customers’ budgets, it’s more important than ever. We’ve never looked back.”

 

Brand advocacy programme

Belhaven Black is offering new installs the chance to win a £50 reward as part of its ‘mystery drinker’ campaign.

All you have to do to claim your £50 reward is:

Site the POS, which includes a QR code for a short video, at the back of house

Ask your team to scan the code and learn about the beer from the video.

Recommend the brand to customers who ask

Offer your customers a small sample (free keg provided on install)

Execute the ‘perfect serve’ of each pint using a cool, clean, branded glass

When the brand’s ‘mystery drinker’ visits in the first eight weeks of install they will ask “what do you recommend?”

If one of your staff talks about Belhaven Black, offers a sample and then executes the ‘perfect serve’ they will be given a £50 reward!

 

Stout support

A wealth of support is available including:

Installation kit

Branded tap handle and font

Glassware

Drip mats

Bar runners

POS

 

Perfect Serve training

Free 17:19 kits, including t-shirts, tent cards, posters and drip mats are also available to help the trade make the most of the early evening stout opportunity. With Belhaven Brewery having been established in 1719, the brand believes that 17:19 is the perfect time for a pint.

 

Bottled beauty

Belhaven also offers an award-winning Scottish Oat Stoat, officially the World’s Best Oat Stout, available in premium 330ml glass bottles.

Made using a complex mash including roasted barley and oats along with 3 types of malt, the brand offers a dark, rich and layered stout with plenty of black coffee and dark chocolate notes.

Belhaven Brewery Scottish Oat Stout 330ml bottles claimed accolades at both the 2022 and 2021 World Beer Awards along with a Monde Selection Gold Award in 2023 and 2022.