If you have learned nothing else in the past week, know that bloggers love getting free beer. Send us a beer, slip it to us under the table – it doesn’t matter. Get it into our hands and we’ll let you know what we think. The fact that it was the Alexander Keith’s Tartan Ale that appeared at our door steps was evidently not a deterrent to a bunch of people that love craft beer. Regardless, I purposely avoided their reviews and tried my best to give an unbiased review of the Tartan Ale.
The Tartan Ale is the latest beer in Keith’s Brewmaster’s series. Don’t be surprised if you missed the Harvest Ale last fall – it was came and went from pubs quickly and was never distributed in bottles. The Tartan seems to be getting a bigger push and as available in retail stores, leading me to expect that there will be more in the series. But enough lead-up, let’s talk about the beer!
Poured a light copper/peach with a decent white head that quickly diminished. Not much of an aroma when it is right out of the fridge – everything is locked up in there. Huge sweet caramel flavour, a little nutty. Definitely fruity with a distinct taste of orange zest, but the smokiness is missing for me. It is really overcarbonated (too much carbonation can hinder the taste buds), but a quick swirl of a fork helps that. Decent body on it, but not what I’d expect from a Scotch ale. The finish is very macro – the taste doesn’t linger, so you’ve got to keep sipping to remember the flavours. A spicy bite creeps in as it warms, which is actually nice to balance the sugars. Some unpleasant graininess. Aromas start to emerge, but they’re not pleasant – boiled grains and wet cardboard. Still no peat or smoke, but a little booze.
Overall, a decent beer when it is really cold, which is probably intended. The flaws become evident as it warms up. They style is completely off, though – this beer is as Scottish as Mel Gibson in Braveheart. It needs more alcohol, body and big flavours. The ABV is 6.1%, which is high by macro standards but low for a Scotch ale. Keith’s is notorious for style misappropriation and I would have had a lot less to complain about if they called it an amber ale. Probably not something I would drink again, but that is mainly because of my preference for independently-owned craft beers and not because of taste.
Recommended If You Like: Any Rickard’s beer. Pretending to be Sean Connery. Plaid. Butterscotch ripple. Bagpipes. Complaining about macro beers.