ÉQUINOXE DU PRINTEMPS: 91 Points
Good Flavor Profile
This Scotch Ale is released seasonally in early Spring in 11.5 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Équinoxe du Printemps (French for “spring equinox”) is the quintessential marriage of two great traditions: beer brewing in Scotland, and maple syrup production in Quebec. At the first draught, the mouth is overcome by woody, malty flavours, sustained by a discrete touch of sweetness. The aftertaste brings about the flavours of maple, which are sufficiently present to be appreciated, but never overwhelming the typical flavours of a Scotch Ale. Equinoxe du printemps is brewed only once a year in January. It is aged for two months in order to attain a perfect balance in taste. Then, it is sold starting March 21st, until stocks last.”
My Description: This is heavy beer to end Winter with and bring on the Spring. It begins with a decent, beige colored head that fades to a thin ring leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of dark fruits, caramel, raisins, molasses, and some woodsy notes. Printemps is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is enjoyable and satisfying with notes of toffee, dark breads, and a hint of smoke. The body is dense and the alcohol is nicely hidden. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with lingering maple notes. Overall, this big Scotch Ale is smooth, subtle, and enjoyable. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled duck, beef stew, or chocolate desserts.
ABV: 9.5% Color: Murky Brown Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10
HAPPY JACK: 90 Points
Happy Happy Joy Joy
This Scottish Ale is released for a limited time in 12 oz. bottles in the Winter Variety Pack.
Brewer’s Description: “Happy Jack is a medium bodied, malty Scottish ale with a touch of ginger and smoked malt. Sweet aromas of caramel and toffee serve as the perfect precursor to the similar malt flavors within. Accents of floral ginger and smoked malt impact the palate, and linger slightly in the finish.”
My Description: This Scottish Ale is highly sessionable with a tasty flavor combination that just gets better as the beer warms. It pours a decent sized, beige colored head with a weak retention level and it leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma smells great and very welcoming with notes of smoked malt, caramel malt, some roasted notes, and ginger. Happy Jack is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is slightly complex with subtle smoked malt notes and chocolate accompanied with notes of toasted malt and some dark breads. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with lingering ginger notes that delight. This is a really good ale that is a delight for the Winter season. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with smoked ribs, sautéed steak tips, or spicy Thai chicken.
ABV: 5.5% Color: Garnet/Mahogany Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
OLD CHUB: 97 Points
Love Me Some Chubby
This Scotch Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. cans.
Brewer’s Description: “This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale (8% ABV) is brewed with bodacious amounts of malted barley and specialty grains, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malt. Old Chub features semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a wee-bit of smoke. A head-turning treat for malt heads and folks who think they don’t dig dark beer.”
My Description: On the edge of an Imperial Scotch Ale; this beer is remarkably smooth, it has a slightly complex flavor profile, and the quality of the brewer really shines through. It begins with a good sized, tan colored head that fades to a film that lingers for a while leaving a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming with dense layers of malt accompanied by notes of toffee and hints of dark fruit. Old Chub is medium/full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The texture feels almost creamy-like and the alcohol flavor is nicely hidden and delivers a warming sensation. Bold caramel malt notes dominate the flavor profile along with brown sugar notes and a faint but noticeable smoky note. This transitions smoothly into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter but does not overtake the malty sweetness. All the components of this beer work harmoniously together to produce a Scotch Ale that is delicious and memorable. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked duck, pretzel burgers, or cheesecake.
ABV: 8% Color: Mahogany Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
WINTER ALE: 84 Points
Decent Scottish Brew
This Scottish Style Ale is releases seasonally in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “When the days grow short and the beach recedes into our dreams, we need a very nice beer to get us through the long winter. Based on the satisfying malty ales of blustery Scotland, Brooklyn Winter Ale will have you looking on the bright side of things. Rich Scottish malts bring deep bready flavors to a beer with a full copper color, a round, smooth palate, and brisk hopping that pulls the sweet malts into balance. See – things are looking up already!”
My Description: Many winter beers are designed to warm you up and this beer will do a good job of that. However, it slightly lacks in flavor and enjoyment. It has a good sized, light beige colored head but it doesn’t retain very well and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant enough with notes of caramel malt, toasted bread, some toffee, and hints of dark fruit. Winter Ale is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Upfront, there are flavor notes of malt and bread along with some caramel and earthiness. The aftertaste is minimally bitter bringing some balance to the beer. Overall, the flavors are satisfying but they could be cleaner and more refined. Also, the dark fruit in the aroma made very little, if any, appearance in the taste which is disappointing. This ale is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with beef stew, grilled pork chops, or Gruyere cheese.
ABV: 6.1% Color: Deep Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
SPICED RUM AGED: 84 Points
Not as good as regular Rum Aged
This Scottish Ale is a limited release and is available in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “This limited bottling of Innis & Gunn has been finished over oak infused with Caribbean Spiced Rum. The result is absolutely delicious, bursting with the flavours of Caribbean spices along with our signature notes of vanilla, toffee and oak.”
My Description: This beer is pretty good but it almost seems unnecessary because the original Rum Aged is so much better. It has a decent, light beige colored head with sub-par retention level and it leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is similar to other Innis beers with a strong toffee presence accompanied by notes of oak and spiced rum. This beer is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is similar as well with notes of toffee, oak, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol. There is a slight touch of spices from the rum chips but not enough to make this beer stand out. Plus, the flavors are not as clean or satisfying as the original Rum Aged. This beer is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled pork chops, smoked sausage, or roasted duck.
ABV: 7.4% Color: Copper Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
RUM AGED: 91 Points
Love the Rum
This Scottish Ale is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Our Rum Aged is a fighter. Its popularity saw it throw off the shackles of Limited Edition status to clinch a place in our Core Range. Matured over oak heartwood infused with specially selected rums, its spicy, full-bodied qualities make it a lively sparring partner for a round or two.”
My Description: Aging this beer is rum casks has created a beer that is tasty, balanced nicely, and memorable. It begins with a good sized, light beige colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming and pleasant with notes of toffee, oak, vanilla, light spice notes, and a touch of dark fruits. Rum Aged is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. This beer is smooth and the alcohol is only noticed slightly. The flavor profile is delicious and satisfying. There is a clean malt backbone with notes of toffee, oak, butterscotch, some spice notes, and a touch of rum. The aftertaste is clean with no bitterness. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, grilled steak, or Cajun shrimp.
ABV: 6.8% Color: Strawberry Red/Garnet Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
ORIGINAL: 85 Points
The Original Aged Innis
This Scottish Ale is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “This is our firstborn brew, whose accidental discovery started our story in 2003. Its originality also lies in its singular taste – notes of biscuity malt and vanilla swirling within a creamy, mellow character.”
My Description: This beer is tasty and interesting but falls just short of being memorable. It has a good sized, off-white colored head with a good retention level but it leaves behind hardly any lacing. The aroma is welcoming with notes of toffee, oak, vanilla, and light fruits like apples. This ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a very dry finish. The texture is slightly chewy and the alcohol is nicely hidden. The flavor profile consists of notes like toffee, oak, some honey, and vanilla. This beer tastes good but the flavors feel thin and the toffee at times can be overpowering. The aftertaste is clean with no bitterness. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled chicken, roast beef sandwiches, or smoked gouda.
ABV: 6.6% Color: Honey Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
WEE HEAVY: 95 Points
Beautiful Scottish Ale
This Scottish Wee Heavy is available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “It may have come from a right old recipe but Wee Heavy fits the bill today as much as it ever has. It is a classic Scottish heavy but has a lightness of flavour and a great reddish colour in the glass. Cracking stuff if we do say so ourselves.”
My Description: This beer should be sipped to really appreciate all the flavors and quality that Belhaven provides. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head with a decent retention level and it leaves behind an average amount of lacing for this style. The aroma is slightly complex and rich with deep malt notes accompanied by hints of toasted bread, raisins, and other dark fruits. This ale is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is also complex with notes of malt and caramel along with dark fruit notes such as raisins and plums. There is also a hint of burnt sugar and no sign of alcohol. What makes this particular Wee Heavy so great is that not only are the flavors rich and smooth, but the overall sweetness is slightly countered by a lingering bitterness that creeps in slowly. This beer is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck or grilled lamb chops.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Garnet/Mahogany Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 2/10
SCOTTISH ALE: 81 Points
Could be better
This Scottish Style Ale is available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Malty and hoppy, we at Belhaven love the classic Scottish Ale and we’ve been brewing it longer than any of the other beers we produce. Delivering a sweet, smooth and creamy finish, Scottish Ale has a stunning ruby colour in the glass. Magic.”
My Description: My initial reaction is that this ale could be so much more if it just didn’t taste old. The hops felt rather stale and harsh, plus the carbonation hid some of the tasty malty notes. Could it be the bottle? Perhaps, but I did purchase from a reputable retailer, drank by the “best by” date, and it went straight into my refrigerator when I brought it home. It is what it is. It begins with a decent, light beige colored head that fades quickly and leaves behind hardly any lacing. The aroma is the best part of this beer, here the hops actually smell nice and fresh which is the exact opposite of what they taste like. There are also notes of butterscotch, malt, and light fruits; the aroma is pleasant and inviting. This ale is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. There are flavor notes of toasted malt, earthy/herbal hops, butterscotch, some fruit notes and a slightly bitter finish. All this sounds delicious but the lack of freshness holds this beer back. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck with raspberry sauce, grilled lamb, or beef stew.
ABV: 5.2% Color: Amber Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3/10
FRAOCH HEATHER ALE: 90 Points
Leann Fraoch (Heather Ale)
This ale has been brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C. “Gale and flowering heather are added, then after cooling slightly the hot ale is poured into a vat of fresh heather flowers where it infuses for an hour before being fermented.”
Brewer’s Description: “A light amber ale with floral peaty aroma, full malt character, a spicy herbal flavour and dry wine like finish.”
My Description: This is not similar to many other ales on the market, which means that it has to be really good to get people to try it and understand what they are drinking. I believe this beer has done just that. It starts with a very thin and sparse head that lingers for some time and produces a decent lace. The aroma is very mild with floral notes. The taste is where this beer shines. The initial taste you get as soon as it hits your lips is a strong floral flavor. The aftertaste is a little dry and malty which does actually resemble a white wine-like finish. If you hold this beer in your mouth for a second before swallowing you will pick up on some white wine flavors as well. This beer is medium bodied and very smooth. The flavors seem to blend perfectly together and if you are looking for something different and historic, I suggest this.
ABV: 5% Color: Gold Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 1/10
ALBA SCOTS PINE ALE: 86 POINTS
Spruce and Pine
This is a historic Scottish ale that was introduced by the Vikings and was very popular up to the end of the 19th Century. This ale is available in the U.S. in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Alba is a “triple” style ale, brewed to a traditional Highland recipe using the sprigs of spruce and pine collected every spring. This complex rich tawny ale is best drunk at room temperature from a wine goblet.”
My Description: I drank this beer at approximately 60°F and that seemed to be a good temperature to give this review. This starts off with a decent white colored head but it fades away in about 5 minutes leaving a ring of foam that seemed to linger for some time. However, there was no lacing on the glass at any point. The aroma is mild with sweet and earthy notes. It almost surprised me that the aroma has sweet notes because I was expecting a wood/pine aroma; that must be where the spruce lends a role. Right after my first sip of the beer I had to put my glass down and really think about what flavors I just tasted. I finally figured out that it tastes very similar to rose water and I instantly went back for more. This is a sweet and complex taste that takes time to fully appreciate. The pine is very minimal but the spruce is apparent which is what reminds me of the rose water flavor. You will also pick up on alcohol notes but that doesn’t stop the ale from being smooth. It is best to drink this beer almost like you are drinking a glass of wine, nice and slow.
ABV: 7.5% Color: Light Brown Sweetness: 5.5/10 Bitterness: 1/10
CLAYMORE SCOTCH ALE: 87 Points
This Wee Heavy is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Claymore Scotch Ale is our tribute to the legendary “Wee Heavy” beers of Scotland. This malty, deep-ruby beauty features lots of caramel sweetness, a reserved hop profile, and a subtle warming character.”
My Description: Even though the name is Wee Heavy, it is medium bodied and thin. It has a decent light beige head that does not retain very well and produces minimal lacing. The aroma is pleasant and sweet with notes of roasted malt, some earthiness, and a hint of alcohol. The carbonation level is on the lighter side which when added with the thin body, produces a beer that is easy to sip. Up front you will taste the roasted sweetness of this style with a note of caramel. The aftertaste is easy with a presence of dark fruit and very little bitterness. Throughout there will be a hint of alcohol and a touch of earth notes. It is best served around 55°F to pick up on the fruit notes and pairs nicely with pot roast, lamb shank, or beef stew.
ABV: 7.7% Color: Dark Brown/Ruby Sweetness: 4.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
DIRTY BASTARD: 92 Points
This Scottish Style Ale has an IBU of 50 and is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles for around $9-$10 a six pack.
Brewer’s Description: “So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads.”
My Description: This is not like other Scottish Ales mainly because it has so much hops in it which makes for a damn good beer that is full of flavor. It has a light and bubbly head that leaves some good lacing and holds its own for some time. The aroma is complex; it is strong with the scent of malt and some caramel and sweet figs. You will also be able to pick up on some of the alcohol as well. This beer is pretty much sweet all the way from start to finish with other flavors and textures that make an appearance such as alcohol and some peat. The aftertaste has a lot going on for it as well; it finishes dry with a prominent hop flavor and some malt and smoke as well. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with burgers, BBQ chicken, or Cajun spiced fish.
ABV: 8.5% Color: Dark Ruby Sweetness: 5.5/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10
BIG SOUND: 95 Points
Wee heavy and Delicious
This Scotch Ale has an IBU of 40 and is released seasonally in September in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Brown in color, Big Sound has huge notes of dark sweet toffee with underlying mild notes of coffee in the aroma. The flavor starts with a slight note of cherry and then opens into a goliath of malt character with notes of dark sweet toffee, coffee and mild notes of toasted bread in the finish.”
My Description: Cigar City has designed a great representation of a Wee Heavy. It has a creamy, beige colored head that has a good retention level considering the ABV, but the lacing was held to a minimum. The aroma has a malty backbone with notes of toffee, dark fruits like cherries, and a touch of cacao. It is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The beer is smooth, the texture is creamy, and there is a hint of alcohol in the flavor but otherwise nicely hidden. True the the style, this beer is malty sweet upfront with notes of dark cherries, caramel, toffee, and roasted coffee makes its appearance from time to time. The aftertaste is slightly bitter bringing some balance to the beer. This Scottish beauty is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with roasted lamb, Camembert cheese, or BBQ chicken.
ABV: 9% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
90 SHILLING: 90 Points
This Amber Ale has an IBU of 27 and is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “We introduced 90 Shilling, our flagship beer, at our opening party in 1989. For a while, we’d been wondering what would happen if we lightened up the traditional Scottish ale? The result is an irresistibly smooth and delicious medium-bodied amber ale. The name 90 Shilling comes from the Scottish method of taxing beer. Only the highest quality beers were taxed 90 Shillings. A shilling was a British coin used from 1549 to 1982. We think you’ll find this original ale brilliantly refreshing, and worth every shilling.
My Description: This is a very enjoyable Amber Ale that is perfectly balanced and very tasty. It has a big and dense, beige colored head that lasts forever and leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma is fairly straightforward with notes of caramel sweetness and roasted malts. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The beer is very smooth and tastes clean, nicely done. Upfront there are flavor notes of roasted malt accompanied by a mild caramel malt note that pleases. This transitions beautifully into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter and welcoming. This beer is easy drinking and worthy of being Odell’s flagship beer. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with buffalo wings, roasted butternut squash or grilled chicken.
ABV: 5.3% Color: Copper Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10