Harviestoun Brewery began in a shed in Clackmannanshire, Scotland back in 1983, where homebrew enthusiast Ken Brooker would host Tuesday night tasting events of his latest concoctions. A few years later in 1986 they put together their first brewery, built from salvage and scrap, and created their mouse mascot character, Harvie, based on a little fella they found in the aforementioned salvage. After a couple of decades of cranking out innovative brews, including the famous ‘Bitter & Twisted’, Harviestoun were finally taken under the wing of fellow Scots Caledonian Brewery in 2010, but a couple of years later were independent again, after Heineken’s takeover of Caledonian. A group of Caledonian’s former directors plucked them from Heineken’s grasp, and the brewery has continued to brew award winning beers ever since.
Wheesht is the company’s first foray into the world of non-alcoholic beers, and was launched in 2019, though work on such a beer apparently took the brewers a while to perfect. The beer’s name ‘Wheesht’ comes from the Scottish vernacular, with the word meaning ‘hush’ or ‘be quiet’. In use since the 14th century, it’s also the origin of saying ‘shhh’ to try and silence people. What it means as a name for beer I’m not sure. It could be referencing the increased aural output that drunk people tend to make, or could be trying to symbolise that the beer is going to have a light, more reserved flavour. Let’s take a sip and see!
Pouring out from the bottle we get a dark ruby coloured beer with decent clarity and steady looking carbonation. A spattering of creamy beige head appears, but doesn’t amount to much. Inhaling, we get malt aromas, dark rye bread, and a whiff of raisin and sultana sweetness on the nose. A touch lighter aroma than I was expecting from all the different malts and hops used.
On tasting we get an initial bitterness from the roasted malts, though this tapers down and we get some dark fruit flavours coming forward, plums and the aforementioned raisins, maybe even some dark marmalade-style orange peel. Despite coffee being mentioned on the bottle’s labelling I couldn’t pick any up, though there is a touch of burnt sugar sweetness discernable. The carbonation is medium and the mouthfeel has a pleasant chewiness to it, quite a rare thing to see in alcohol-free dark ales. The finish is quite dry.
Certainly an interesting entry into the non-alcoholic market for this innovative brewer, with taste combinations unlike anything else in the category. Maybe not one I’ll seek out regularly, but I enjoyed the couple of bottles I bought. One to take your time over and ruminate on the flavours.
Nutritional Information (per 100ml)
0.0% alcohol by volume
16 calories energy
(taken from the side of the bottle)
Water, Malted Barley, Malted Wheat, Malted Rye, Pinheat Oats, Malt Extract, Hops
Harviestoun Brewery Wheesht Alcohol-Free Dark Ale Review
A unique alcohol-free dark ale, with interesting flavours but probably not to everyone’s tastes. A good start from this well-loved brewery though.