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Lia Fail - Inveralmond Brewery Ltd., The

Not Rated.
Lia FailLia Fail

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

120 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 120
Reviews: 86
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 11.41%
Wants: 2
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Inveralmond Brewery Ltd., The visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  4.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-01-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 120 | Reviews: 86 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of waiting4lunch
5/5  rDev +32.6%

waiting4lunch, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of Harvie
5/5  rDev +32.6%

Harvie, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of Pete27lax
5/5  rDev +32.6%

Pete27lax, Jul 21, 2014
Photo of Offa
4.58/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an excellent Scottish ale with nice subtle complexity.

Red-brown amber, it has a big, rich tan head slowly shrinking to thin foamy top and leaving a few hints of lace.

Aroma is very toasty barley, bread crust, chocolate, hints of tea, leaves, woody earth and later some hints of fruit. It is very nice with good, subtle complexity.

Taste is toasty bread crust, dryish, woody-earthy leaves, hint of chocolate. Balanced sweetness and bitterness, the latter just dominating the finish, which is earthy, leafy, and a little spicey-peppery. Feel is firm.

Offa, Sep 21, 2010
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the Inveralmond Brewery in Scotland comes an astonishingly full-flavored session ale. Its slightly hazy (it's bottle-conditioned), deep copper colored body borders on chestnut; resting gently geneath a long-lasting head of creamy white foam as its very fine bubbles slowly rise to the surface. The nose displays a distinctly rich, caramel-drenched maltiness. The body is surprisingly full, adding to a fuller perception of malt in the flavour; and its very fine, natural carbonation leaves it exceptionally creamy and smooth across the palate. In the flavor, a hint of some darker malts (perhaps a touch of roasted barley) lend depth to its rich, caramel side; and some subtle, delicately spicy and grassy hops round it out. The maltiness is perfectly balanced by its firm bitterness, and leads to a dry finish (that's again surprising given its full maltiness). A really well brewed beer that shows a clean fermentation and impeccable sense of balance. Quite exceptional, and certainly one of the best Scottish ales available at this time!

NeroFiddled, Jun 19, 2004
Photo of zerk
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have to say that when I bought this beer I had no idea what to expect... it comes in an attracttive 1 pint 9 oz bottle that talks about the Stone of Destiny... also called Lia Fail. It states that it has won an award in the Premium Bitter category - this however is not a bitter. It's more of a session scottish ale... maybe what would be called a 60 Shilling Ale in Scottland. Pours a slightly hazy deep amber with a thin but persistent tan head that leaves behind some patches of lace. Aroma is a mix of caramel, toffee, and some light bread notes with a touch of espresso. Flavor begins sweet with malty notes of caramel, and chocolate, finishing with some smokiness, notes of tobacco, and a touch of coffee. Bitterness is low, and mainly just there for balance. Mouthfeel is light with low carbonation. This is a mighty fine Scottish Ale... very easy to drink but quite complex. One hell of a good session ale!

zerk, Jul 02, 2004
Photo of canucklehead
4.38/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Real solid thick moutfeel with lots of malt and chocolate notes coming to the fore kinda like porter mixed with a Scottish Ale. I thought the beer was much stronger than its 4.7ABV with all the flavour packed into the finish. I would definately buy this again as it combines complexity with drinkability in a sessionable package.

canucklehead, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of benclimbs
4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on cask at the halfway house - Edinburgh, meticulously kept, perfect temperature...syked.

This is the bomb for sessionable Scottish brown ales

amber brown with a one finger head and tons of lacing.
Smell is all caramel and nuts - really nice

Taste is more of that, round hazelnuts, malty nice caramel, then goes just a tad bitter at the very end - finishes clean and just slightly sweet - very smooth and rich in the mouthfeel, but not heavy or sticky - not nearly as sweet as many of the heavier wee-heavies and scottish ales.

Wow, i was very very impressed by this...and it was my first pint so i know my tasters were on it. One of the best browns i've had period.

benclimbs, Mar 22, 2010
Photo of MAB
4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding effort from this brewery!

Color is beautiful, deep amber and clear.
The head is fairly tight and yellow-brown in color. Dies down to a nice froth that remains for the whole pint.
Smell is sweet, some smoke, and hops. Lovely.

The back of the label reads (in part): "Challenger, Fuggles, and Cascade hops produce a spicy aroma with a balanced bitterness and full bodied flavour".

I couldn't describe it more perfectly than they've done it themselves.

Also noted: They use "full leaf hops".

I picked up aged wood notes, almost like scotch.

Mouthfeel was pleasing- not watery but not heavy.

Superb beer.

MAB, May 22, 2008
Photo of Wils500
4.28/5  rDev +13.5%

Wils500, Aug 14, 2014
Photo of eskilgh
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

eskilgh, Oct 05, 2014
Photo of joefinnigan15
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

joefinnigan15, Aug 18, 2013
Photo of harsley
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

harsley, Dec 13, 2013
Photo of connecticutpoet
4.22/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was yet another free sample I was fortunate enough to try, and one of my favorites that night. It was a nice brown color, but no idea as to the head in a 2 ounce glass.

The aroma was of light hops, nothing too strong, but foreshadowing something interesting.

There was a good deal of complexity and overlapping flavors to the malts, nicely balanced with the hop overtones. This was a nice drinking beer, and I enjoyed it. Definitely worth a try.

connecticutpoet, Jun 21, 2004
Photo of ADR
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer seems more like a Special Bitter to me, but...

Medium brown and clear appearance. Sturdy pale yellow head, long lasting and creamy -- settles at under 1/2 an inch. Laces in partial drips. Nice aroma, toffee with jazzy nutmeg and a definite floral hopping showing through. Smooth mouthfeel, a little light but quaffable. Starts with butterscotch and some maple sugar, very nice transition to a cinnamony and prickly hop. Finishes lightly but continuing in the enhanced bittering, like a sound turning up. A thumb's up brew in my book, composed, subtle, but making a point.

ADR, Jun 03, 2004
Photo of bristerboy
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. Bought only a single to try and wish I had bought more. Expected more hops but pleasantly surprised by just a hint of bitterness to balance the coffee malts of the classic Scottish Ales.
Dark amber color, not a heavy mouth feel as in "wee heavies", but just right for a good session beer.
Very low carbonation. Very small tan head .
Really like this beer even though my personal preference this side of the Atlantic is Belhaven Wee Heavy.

bristerboy, Jul 24, 2004
Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.13/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of several birthday presents from my in laws! Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. It wasn't as dark as I expected especially since the label states "Dark Scottish Ale," but still pretty good looking. It comes out a little bit of an orange brown color, "rusty" if you will. Very hazy and a thick creamy white head, very decent lacing. The smell isn't overly strong, but it's got complexity and depth and overall pretty good. A little citrusy and bready. Almost like a orange loaf of pound cake. It's followed by dark sweet malts. Taste is good, malty, but not too aggressive. Caramel and toffee, not too sweet though. There is a good balance between the malt and hop flavor, citrus hops. Not really bready like the smell. Mouthfeel is good, fairly light, almost smooth. A little complex, not as creamy as other Scottish Ales I've had in the past. It's strange, not really like any of this style I've had in the past but really enjoyed this. I like the balance and it's very unique. Good, I'd get it again, but more of a summer Scottish Ale, I like it.

AndyAvalanche, Jun 29, 2010
Photo of BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With such complexity, elegance, masculinity, and earth; the beer remains remarkable light and drinkable without giving up on its malty body or rich taste. This shows that Scottish ales don't have to be strong to be top notch.

Pouring a mostly clear light mahogany hue, the beer casts a mild glow when back lit. A short statured head forms on the head with creamy texture, fulfilled retention, and islands of foam- it portrays a gentlemanly yet understated appearance.

Not exactly delicate, but not robust either; the aromas seem of strong scents of peat moss, toffee, fruit, bread crust, and butterscotch, but without the power that's normally associated with these flavors individually. Their lighter-than-expected culmination gives the beer a delicate aroma profile that's unmistakably Scottish.

Flavors play out in similar fashion as the taste of toffee and its low-lying sweetness invites complementary tastes of caramel, bread, butterscotch, campfire, damp soil, peppercorn, grapes, and a light confectioner's sweetness that reminds me of jelly beans. Even light coffee grounds, chocolate, and pecan rise as the beer warms to contribute more and more variance and balance to the beer through mid palate and into finish. And that's a good think, because with highly restrained hop character the beer relies heavily on malt complexity and yeast notes to achieve balance and flavor development well into aftertaste.

With so much flavor, the palate expects more weight and richness than the beer actually delivers. However, its understated creaminess never waivers and allows a powdery sweetness to carry the beer from the middle palate into finish where the beer calmly fades away and leaves only a memory of hickory wood and fruit on the breath.

This Scottish ale delivers enough flavor and punch to win over the most enthusiastic Scotch whiskey fan, but light and drinkable enough to caress the palate of their opposition as well.

BEERchitect, Jul 25, 2012
Photo of lackenhauser
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chestnut color that cant be beat. Chunky, fluffy white head that looks almost like rice pudding from the top! Sweet,caramel and malt aroma. Slight sherry tinge. Malt dominates the flavor. Very mild hop bite to it. Treacle and toffeeish flavors. Nice malty sweetness in the finish. Great body for the listed abv. An excellent beer-very full and well rounded. Retired? Damn shame.

lackenhauser, Nov 21, 2005
Photo of JamesS
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Has a wonderful copper color, if just a little on the light side. Not much of a head, but wonderful lacing all around. Has a great malty/peaty scent that fills the nose without overpowering. Great warm scotch ale flavor, a nice and deep maltiness with a bit of smoky peat. Does have a slight hint of chocolate, though not as much as promised. Goes down exceedingly well! It will not be a problem at all to finish the 1+ liter bottle.

JamesS, Nov 14, 2007
Photo of Graham5161986
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a beautiful copper colour with a one finger fizzy head that quickly reduces to a thin film. Upon close inspection, you can actually see tiny particles floating around. Leaves a nice sticky lace.

S: aromas of caramel malts and bitter hops dominate. I also get hints of chocolate and vanilla.

T: quite heavily hopped, with a sweet bready, nutty flavour and a dry finish.

M: heavy and very creamy, tingly carbonation and a very smooth satisfying finish.

D: This is an excellent brew! Beautiful flavours,well crafted and is highly drinkable given its relatively low ABV. I could definitely see myself drinking more than one of these in a night. I look forward to my next one! A great find.

Graham5161986, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Unless the Fates shall faithless prove,
and prophets voice be vain,
where'er this sacred Stone is found,
the Scottish people shall reign."

--The Stone of Destiny is the coronation stone of the Kings of the Scots and dates from 840 A.D.


Translucent, dark, reddish copper with more than a little rust orange for good measure. The beer is capped with a smallish, almond colored head that is tight-bubbled, yet airy, with miniscule surface pits that eat away at the foam with a furious persistence. A stubby collar of lace is the extent of the glass coverage.

Although the nose could be stronger, it's a good one. Dark caramel and dark toffee are in the lead with faint chocolate and peat following along behind. I'd like a little more depth and complexity however. The same general description applies to the flavor. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a Scottish ale, not a wee heavy. I prefer the stronger, heavier style, but can still appreciate and enjoy the lighter one.

Sweet dark malt is uppermost, but it never becomes too sweet or too malty; a relatively generous amount of hops sees to that. Dark fruit (black currant) is more prominent on the palate than it was in the nose. I can also appreciate dark caramel, cocoa and strong English Breakfast tea. More faint yet are molasses and peat, while wispy hints of smoke fade before they can settle into the flavor landscape.

Lia Fail is good beer that makes no missteps during the short journey from bottle to stomach. I would prefer that it have a bit more heft and a more assertive flavor, but then it wasn't designed as that sort of beer. Devotees of the style could do much worse than this fine, representative Scottish Ale.

BuckeyeNation, Dec 02, 2004
Photo of falloutsnow
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From: Piccadilly, Champaign, IL
Date: Best by October 2013
Glass: Standard US pint glass

Pours a 2cm tall head of off-white to light beige-colored foam, with excellent retention, the foam lasting several minutes, slowly descending to a 0.3cm cap atop the body for the duration of the session. Lacing is excellent, with thick washes of foam clinging in a variety of patterns to all sides of the glass. Beer's body is a dark copper brown color, with light bringing out dark golden orange hues. Carbonation is visible in the semi-hazy body (20-30% opacity), low in number and activity.

Aroma of smooth, toasted bread, light caramel, cocoa and roasted malt, and dried leaves.

Beer is richly malty, with a fine blend of caramel, toasted nuts and bread, dark cocoa, and hints of bitter coffee. Front of palate of deep caramel-like flavors, toasted nuts and bread, light cocoa and coffee characters. Mid-palate of toasted nuts and bread, cocoa, mild bitter coffee, and light bitterness from herbal-like hops. Back of palate features features light roasted malt and cocoa, caramel-like sweetness, and moderate herbal bitterness. Aftertaste of lingering cocoa, bitter coffee, and mild hop bitternes with herbal accents.

Beer is medium bodied, with medium-low to low carbonation, resulting in a slightly foamy (1/3) and mostly smooth (2/3) mouthfeel that is appropriate for the beer and the style. Closes dryly, with significant dryness and stickiness on the palate and lips.

falloutsnow, Nov 06, 2013
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A portentous name...omens speak of it's promise before the cap is cracked...Stone of Destiny...I feel priveleged to sip it, already.
Gorgeous looking ale, all crimson, with deeper, darker amber edges, and a luscious, utterly creamy cap of foam lay on top. Really good looking brew.
Aroma is vast and epic, a mystic mix of dark fruit flavors, plus coppery, nutty aspects, sweet spices, a real joy to have in the nose.
Nice taste, too, surprsingly mellow entry on the palate, rich, luch, creamy. Full malt, little hops, medium body...feels just too thin for the promise the look and smell evoked, but I do not believe they intended to make a blockbuster beer, just an easy-drinker with a Scottish flair. Long, sweet and nutty finish, this is a handsomely put-together ale. Tastes as good as any Scotch I've ever tried on. Although the label says it's "generously hopped", I'd have to know who they compare it to, or maybe the words mean something different in Scottish? In any case, whatever small hoppiness happens is handily drowned out by the thick, caramel-y malts.
Defineitely a damn good beer, definitely worth anyone's time, but have to wonder if it's really worth the $5.29 I paid for the 500ml bottle...once, or twice, maybe, but not too often.

feloniousmonk, Jul 21, 2004
Photo of Gusler
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer dispense from the 500ml bottle an almost opaque brown with tinges of ruby at the edges, head admirable, creamy and light tan in color, stays for a while, then leaves the lace to conceal the glass. Nose has a deep rich malt sweet aroma, caramel, toffee and a bit of peat, maybe a twig of heather, quite nice, clean and crisp to the senses. Start has a sweet malt presence, touch of spiciness at the back, light to moderate in feel. Finish has a pleasant acidity, the hops understated, but adequate, sweet toffee to the dry end, quite a good drinking beer, seems I find less and less Scottish ales.

Gusler, Oct 27, 2007
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Lia Fail from Inveralmond Brewery Ltd., The
85 out of 100 based on 120 ratings.