It’s that time of year again, the annual celebration of the life and legacy of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns (or Rabbie Burns). It may not be advised to have a huge party this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook haggis, neeps and tatties, drink some strong booze and indulge in some jovial banter with close friends. 

When is Burns Night?

Burns Night falls on 25th January every year to commemorate the birthday of the famous Scottish poet.

If you’re planning a Burns Night dinner celebration and are wondering what alcohol to serve, then you've come to the right place. You can of course drink a Scottish tipple (of which there are plenty), many will be sipping a dram or two of single malt whiskey to toast the man of the evening. If you do want to keep it strictly Scottish, explore the ranges BrewdogBellfield and Harviestoun have to offer. However, if you hope to serve a good hearty haggis and black pudding then we’ve got a couple of beers that we believe will pair very well indeed. And, not to mention, Robert Burns himself was a proponent of a good brew. If he ok'd it, it must be appropriate. 

“O gude ale comes and gude ale goes; gude ale makes me sell my hose, sell my hose and pawn my shoons — Gude ale keeps my heart aboon!” O gude ale comes and gude ale goes

Burns Night supper

The perfect remedy for a cold dark January night is a Burns Supper. This is especially true if Burns Night marks the end of your dry or drier January (it's basically over, right?!). For many Burns Night revellers, the pièce de résistance will be the arrival of the haggis.  Haggis is gamey, rich and peppery. This is also true of vegetarian alternatives. To match its punchy flavour, you need a strong and maybe even sweet beer, much like the flavour profile you find in Dutch and Belgian Trappist beers.

Burns Night beer pairings 

On of the best beer and food pairings for Burn's Night is haggis. For this, you'll need a strong and maybe even sweet beer. Instantly, strong Belgian beers spring to mind, the Tripels and strong Blonds. You'll see from these styles that from 8.0% upwards, alcohol plays a fundamental role in the taste and in the whole experience of beer. You could even ramp up the intensity with a barley wine, Quadrupel or strong Belgian brown beer, but be wary, these generally start at 8.0% and go up to 12.0%. Let's take a look at a few specific examples.

Zundert Trappist 10 - 10.0%

Starting off with a strong one, available in the Abbey and Trappist Case and seasonally in SUB Keg. This tasty and rich Dutch beer is a powerful, warming beer with strong aromas of toffee, caramel, and dried fruit. It's indulgent and spiced, a great match to spicy, fat-rich haggis.

Chimay Wit - 8.0%

This Tripel is a light golden colour with a slight mist and a beautiful, white head. The flavours of this Trappist are full of fruit such as grapes and pear. It has a rare and perfect balance of starting quite sweet but ending with a slightly dry but pleasant bitterness. It's the perfect match for rich meat!

Rochefort 8 - 9.2%

The Rochefort 8 starts off rather sweet with a few spicy notes and high carbonation. However, the dry finish balances this beautifully. With aromas of dried fruits, brown sugar, and spice this will be a taste sensation when enjoyed with some equally as robust haggis. 

Maredsous Brune - 8%

This Belgian Dubbel is full bodied, dark, and rich from the outset. This beer is delicious with cheese but also holds up perfectly to meaty dishes due to the bold and robust flavours, especially the ones from the darker malts in the beer. You'll notice the aromas and flavours of caramel and toast in this abbey beer!

Steenbrugge Dubbel - 7.5%

This Belgian Dubbel is full bodied and rich with a fruity, caramely aromas. It has a unique herby accent of cinnamon and spices from the medieval mix of spices called Gruut. The taste is of candied fruit and plums with malty sweetness and distinctive Gruut flavours. A perfect match with spicy haggis!

Westmalle Tripel- 9.5%

The Westmalle Tripel is also known as the mother of Tripels, it's one of, if not the best! The beer combines sweet, yeasty fruit aromas and a pleasant spicy, hoppy bitterness. That characteristic banana and clove blend of Belgian yeast is prominent but also some softer stone-fruit like apricot and even some honey. This Trappist is surprisingly hoppy, but very well balanced with the malty sweetness and flavours from the yeast. Tripel perfection!

Burns Night with The SUB

If Abbey and Trappist beers aren't your thing, that's ok, you can still have a spectacular Burns Night celebration. Maybe draughting beers straight from your home beer tap is better suited to you. We also know that Trappist beers can be strong and complex, especially for a Tuesday evening. If you would prefer something more accessible then some lagers will do the trick. Our kegs of Heineken, Tiger, Amstel and Birra Moretti, to name just a few, are very popular and exceedingly tasty. Like we said, Burns Night is all about having fun with good company and food, it doesn't matter too much how you do it!

2 for -20%
2 for -20%

Burns Night traditions

The beauty of Burns Night is that you can keep it as traditional and formal, or not, as you like. The main aim of the evening is to celebrate Rabbie Burns and have a good time.

At any other Burns Night you should expect an abundance of merry speech-giving, poetry recitals and delicious food and booze. This year, it probably is not appropriate to encourage big parties, but if you fancy doing any of the below, who are we to stop you.

The events usually follow a traditional running order, below is a short but not exhaustive summary of some the components. 

  • Piping in the guests - Traditionally Burns Night calls for a piper to welcome guests with some Scottish tunes. This may not be practical, understandably, so playing some traditional music will do just fine.
  • Piping, addressing, and toasting the haggis - Guests normally welcome in the night’s the dinner's main attraction and then offer an entertaining rendition of the “To a Haggis” written by none other than Rabbie himself. After the recital the guests are encouraged to toast the haggis, they should raise a glass and shout “to the haggis” followed by a good gulp of alcohol.
  • The meal – This is the bit that everyone has been waiting for, the food. A traditional starter would be cock-a-leekie soup or cullen skink, followed by the Haggis, neeps & tatties and finished with clootie dumplings. For a more modern take, read the Foodie Explorer's article
  • The drink – Alcohol should be in abundance; we can't recommend beer enough. It is customary to drink neat whisky, but you could serve a dram of whisky for the toast if you want to stick to tradition but fancy beer with your food.
  • Entertainment – No Burns Night is complete without some entertainment. This is usually renditions of Robert Burns’ work, preferably poems, songs, and readings.
  • Auld Lang Syne - It's a classic, and Robert Burns' most notable work. The supper is usually brought to a close with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Enjoy the festivities, but remember the beers recommended in this article are strong, more than 9% in some cases!!