Category Archives: Scotch Ale

Counter Culture ‘Dark Unicorn’ Salted Choc Scotch Ale


“According to age-old accounts, at the drawing of each winter, the Dark Unicorn makes its way down from the cliffs and into the towns to deliver strength to the Scottish people to carry on through the final dark days of the long, cold season. Taking inspiration from this tale of power and majesty, Counter Culture presents Dark Unicorn: a malt driven scotch ale, aged in Starward Whiskey barrels with lashings of Chocolate a touch of salt and an ABV of 7.6%. The perfect companion for winter’s last cold days, capture the magic of Dark Unicorn while you can, for it may not be seen this way again.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Deep amber with an evident candy red tint. A tan head swells to about a thumb in height before gradually peeling off. It weaves a nice wavy lace down the walls of the glass.

Aroma: At first it’s a proper malt bomb…oodles of toffee and salted caramel, cocoa powder, doughy bread, golden raisins and honeysuckle but as it settles the slightly peaty and ashy Scotch begins to creep through – albeit conservatively. A very muted hop character provides hints of dank and earthy herbs, orchard fruits and woody notes. Not bad, could do with a stronger Scotch profile though.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose. A blend of sweet, toasty and chocolate malts which display burnt toffee, salted caramel, cooking chocolate, burnt toast, dark fruits and tobacco. The Scotch eventually enters the fray with soft ash and peat and the old world hops bring a certain ESB/English strong ale quality of old woody notes and musky florals. Nice roasty/toasty finish with a lingering hop dryness.

Mouthfeel: Pretty slick and chewy. A definite dryness developing in the swallow. Medium body, mild-medium Co2. The 7.6% ABV is pretty well concealed.

Overall: Not a whole lot of Scotch in this Scotch Ale. Lucky the adjuncts work in really well! At its core it’s a good beer though…comes off like an English strong ale with the Scotch qualities a little restrained. Not bad.

Six Strings Brewing ‘Three’ Anniversary scotch ale

imageThis scotch ale is dark brown in colour, with a dominant malt aroma and flavour of nuttiness with some plums and raisins. This gives it a caramel dessert character. It’s all smoothed over by a warm alcohol finish and wee hop bitterness.

Poured into a pint we see a dark brown/deep mahogany body with a carbonated heads that fades instantly, leaving an oily like complexion where a head would normally sit, with very fine bubbles rising to the surface causing a swirling motion. Nose is alcohol, nuts, caramel toffee, and some dark stewed fruits alongside almost Belgian yeasts. First sip is definitely more complex. Decent booze that doesn’t overpower combines with a nutty malt, with more deeper caramels and a mild bitterness rounding out the palate. We note the IBU here of 23. Mouthfeel is moderate with an oily texture on the lips. Alc vol here is 8.8% and we certainly can taste it. Like a whiskey but not so harsh. Almost port-like but not as fortified. Close to being like a Pinot noir but not as light and fruity. There is a raisin like hit but it’s subdued initially as the beer is a tad cold. We get More dark fruits like white fleshed plums, figs, prunes combining with the slightly sweet yet almost salty caramel. There is an overall smoothness to this drop though which is very quaffable. Good length. We love the dark flavours, and really it’s exactly as the bottle says. We would suggest to age this. It’s got all the traits of a barley wine. It would be amazing. Certainly one of Six Strings better drops.

Exit Brewing/Kaiju ‘Schopsh’ ale collaboration

imageEver wondered what would happen if you combine the malt blast of an Exit Scotch ale with the hop tornado from Kaiju? Behold Schopsh. Allow your tastebuds to be decimated. Dem fighting words.

This is an interesting one cause we love Kaiju and have had a couple of Exit brews but havn’t found them as good as Kaiju. We interested to see what flavours shine here. Poured into a tulip glass, we get a huge 20 mm head, full of dense off-white foam that retains beautifully. Very attractive ruby red/mahogany hue with minimal carbonation. First olfactory onslaught is peated malt, with milder tropical fruit sitting below it. Is there brown sugar? Quite nice actually. Our first taste equates to more peated malt, mild scent of whiskey, touches of pineapple, more mild grapefruit, and stewed dark fruits. Maybe an element of barrel flavours. This is a very smooth drop given the alcohol content (8%). Not too much bitterness, no overpowering peated malt, not too astringent from the booze content. It’s a complicated drop. There is minimal carbonation in the mouth, a balanced yet slightly lingering bitterness on the back palate, moderate body but not so full as to make you feel like your eating steak. This is a really nice, complex drop. There is very minimal lacing on the glass like it’s almost oily, but you don’t get oiliness on your lips. Well, this is a damn fine collaboration. Very tasy indeed.

Red Duck ‘Loch Ness’ Limited Release Scotch Ale

image“Red Duck Loch Ness is a strong Scotch ale, with a complex malt base, low hopping, extended boil time for more caramelisation, and matured in oak barrels that were whisky conditioned (with a very good single malt) for 6 months. Loch Ness has soft oaky, whisky notes, rounded malty characters and a subtle caramel bitterness. Only 400 litres produced, so very rare, and special. Our first batch of Loch Ness was released in the winter of 2010, to much acclaim. Its taken this long to get around to brewing another batch!”

From the boys at red duck, comes their limited release scotch ale aged in whiskey barrels for 6 months. Only 400 litres produced! Pouring a gorgeous amber reddish colour we are excited once we get such complex aroma from the nose. Roasted malts, a tartness that is subdued from the minimal hops used, mild sweetness from the caramelisation (stemming from the extended boil time) and that typical whiskey like flavour from the oak barrels. There is also a slight smokiness. There is no head and a smooth, non carbonated mouth feel. This brew sits at 6.7% and it’s flippin’ bang on. It’s like an extremely crafty version of Toohey’s old, which is the best out of that crap bunch of commercial Australian beer. The smoothness of this drop combined with the complex, peaty-like flavour is a real treat. We respect these guys at red duck because almost all of their beers are brilliant. Their sheer range of brews are extensive. We picked this up at the oak barrel in sydney. Very good.

Dieu di Ciel ‘Èquinoxe du Printemps’ Scotch ale

image“The spring equinox was born of a natural marriage between two great traditions: the brewing of beer in Scotland and the production of maple syrup in Quebec. The mouth is first invaded by woody and malty flavors, sustained by a discreet touch of sweetness. Then, an alcohol breath warm coats the mouth and highlights maple flavors that are present just enough to be enjoyed without ever dominating the likes of caramel characteristics Scotch Ale”.

As we’ve said before this brewery is in our list of top 10 best breweries in the world. And as always, impressive artwork. Served in a tulip glass the mahogany brown pour produces little head with minimal lacing to show for it. Aroma is quite complex with strong scents of roasted malt, maple syrup, alcohol, toffee, brown sugar and some smoky elements. Somewhat peated and earthy too with undertones of dark fruits, esters, herbs and cola. Very unique. Mildly carbonated with a slightly chewy mouth feel. Strong taste of alcohol on the tongue initially, mellowing off on to a syrupy fusion of toasted malts, dark fruits and spice through mid-palate. Strong, roasted finish leaves the palate begging for more. 9.1% ABV is well presented but necessary for this type of ale. And to be honest, we love it. Again, as expected Dieu di Ciel have come through on a complex and full bodied beer. Big ups to the French Candians!

Founders brewing co. ‘dirty bastard’ scotch style ale

image“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”.

This brewery has really impressed us recently, after the all day session IPA and the 10/10 breakfast stout we have taken a liking to these American masters.

Served in a beer tulip the dark brown/mahogany pour produced little head that diminished instantly to a rim of foam around the edge of the glass. No lacing evident. The pungent and complex aroma is offering heavy alcoholic overtones with a real warming hint of whiskey and oak. The 10 (yes 10!!) different malts make sure rich notes of brown sugar, treacle, toffee, dark fruits, raisin and a very subtle hint of vanilla underlines the complexity in this aroma. Very nice. Quite an astringent mouth feel with mild carbonation. Full body. The booze sting (8.5% ABV) does play a relatively large role in this beer with the palate initially serving up warming hints of booze, scotch and raisin. A slightly dry and hoppy mid delivers a sharp, bitter finish with hints of very soft smoke and bread. Definitely a quaffable drop, would not recommend for a session though. Founders have definitely hit the spot though. Good beer.

The Orkney brewery “Skull splitter” Scotch ale

The Orkney brewery orcadian ale Skull splitter“Skull Splitter is our strongest ale: which is named after Thorfinn Einarsson who was the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney. Sophisticated, satiny smooth with a deceptively light character, it is a tribute to our colourful forbear”.

It’s quite funny actually, when you see a beer inspired by a big, hefty and rough Viking you wouldn’t expect the beer description to be sophisticated, satiny smooth and deceptively light. Credit, though, to the brewers as we have tried this beer a few times before and for it to weigh in at 8.5% ABV and still drink like a 5% beer is commendable.

We digress, so we served this in to an English pint. The chestnut brown pour knocks up a beige coloured head which swells to about a finger in height before recoiling to a fine layer over the top, leaving some wet and streaky lacing behind it. Moving on to the nose, where we initially pick up rich wafts of earthy malts, toast, fig, prunes and alcohol. A few vigorous twirls of the glass reveal undertones of licorice, islay whiskey and a well layered scent of spice. Nice depth with a subtle complexity. In the mouth it’s super smooth with a light weight on the tongue. Barely any grip as it slides down with ease. The body is moderate and the carbonation is low. Maybe just a slight tingle from the alcohol, but essentially it’s very well disguised. We honestly can’t get over how smooth this is for its strength. The first few sips yields rich malts and dark stone fruits with a pleasant warmth from the booze. This trio carries forward but as the warmth from the alcohol subsides chewy notes of caramel and toffee are developed which lead on to a toasty finish with decent legs. Just as we remember it, a highly enjoyable quaffer that drinks like a smooth English ale. There’s a lot to like about this brew, may be even better with a bow full of haggis! Aiy laddy.