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The Red MacGregor - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
The Red MacGregorThe Red MacGregor

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

204 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 204
Reviews: 131
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 12.7%
Wants: 13
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-09-2002

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 204 | Reviews: 131 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brendan13
3.82/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into a pint glass a very dark red colour, verging on brown. A centimetre or so of white head that falls away rather quickly.
S - There is some over ripe dark fruit notes and caramel malt is pretty prevalent. Some vauge smokey notes come and go.
T - The dark fruit comes through in the taste as well but also has a bit more maltiness, biscuity and roasty - my favourite malt characters.
M - Medium to full bodied with a fairly low carbonation.
D - Not something for everyday drinking but an interesting every now and then beer for sure. Well worth a try.

Photo of goldenpeanut
4.87/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle in good condition externally. Served in a Half Pint glass with the Queen's Crown on the rim.

Temperature of storage cabinet 54F, Temperature at pour 54.5F

Aroma is dominated by hops with a caramel malt background. Hop character is English varietal in nature. Aroma is clean with no undue ferment characteristics present...malt and hops.

Pours a light tan head that is only fleeting in nature and drops back quickly to a single layer of bubbles. Some lacing does occur.

Carbonation explodes in the mouth releasing the flavor potential nicely. Body seems light for this style of beer (Wee heavy) and the hops more pronounced than usual. Upon some quick research, I found that this beer really classifies as a Scottish Export 80/- (shilling). In fact the research was unnecessary as Orkney makes one of my favorite beers of all time, the Wee Heavy Skull Splitter. Flavor consists of, flavor hop, chocolate and caramel malt and displays some notes of brewing sugar, probably beet sucrose in sane, appropriate amounts.

The hop flavor dominates the malt in this beer, or is at least on an equal par. This is surprising for any Scotch Ale which should exhibit low hop flavor and low to moderate bitter. This is a hoppy Scotch Ale...what a concept.



Hops and malt balance in finish with a lingering chocolate malt or dark grain bitter/astringent note. The bitter hops are not overdone but are on high side of style.

There is very little fermentation or yeast character present, the beer is exceptionally clean for an ale, This is as it should be for a scotch style, the hallmark of the style, actually, in my eyes. This is one of the places where homebrewers get it wrong many times and is difficult to achieve.

This is a very drinkable and pleasant beer. We could get on this for a night of socializing as a session beer, except for the price.

Beer changes very little on warming from 54F to 61F. This is as warm as we got it before the bottom of the glass appeared.

Bottom line...

This is an interpretation of this style from a Scottish brewery. It deviates in the flavor hops from its siblings, but, in a very nice way.

Good session beer, if you can afford it.

We highly recommend a cross tasting with Belhaven to see where it deviates from the norm of the style.


Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown that is clear and shows some firm ruby tints to it when held to light. Nice crème head. Nose is nice levels of wood. Flavor is bitter but also has a unique earthy/woody tone to it. Lots of malts on there too. Feel has a good carbonation that gives a slight bite to it. Liquid is well bodied. A good drinker. Nice body, even and interesting flavor. Won't go down as the greatest ever of the style, but still good enough to give a try.

Photo of alexskovan
4.52/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear deep amber bronze, lovely to look at. Sturdy off-white head. Rich aroma of piney hops, balanced with toasted malt. Taste is a somber brooding whaloop in the mouth, like a nice single malt Scotch whiskey. This ale is like drinking a fine old cabinet ( I mean that in a good way).

Malt, hops, yeast, all working together and doing exactly what they should. What more is there to say?

When the British (or the Scots) get ale right the result is much like when the French get red wine right. It is the standard, the stuff, IT.

Photo of BeerSox
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into 20oz pint glass.

I had just about the perfect pour on this beer. In fact, I think it was perfect. The head lined up perfectly with the top of the glass, nothing spilling over, and no room left. The beer is a deep deep mahogany with a light tan one finger dense head. It slowly settles to a thin cap, leaving a good amount of lacing in its place. As the beer goes down the glass, some relatively solid lacing remains.

The aroma is loaded with a burnt caramel aroma and a little bit of coffee. Some fruity esters are mixed in as well. The smell of this beer is absolutely lovely.

Roasty malt, almost like dark coffee, is the main characteristic of the beer. A slightly smokey hint can be detected here and there. The hop bitterness is low, which is expected. Full bodied with slightly lower carbonation, creating a slick feel. The finish is mostly the smokey malt flavors lingering.

The flavor seems a little tame on this one, which is a shame, because it tastes pretty good. Otherwise, the presentation is great, and the aroma is superb. At 5%ABV, this beer is definitely sessionable. Recommended.

Photo of pumarocks
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I think the description of this beer is incorrect in the profile screen. This is a Scotish Ale not English Pale ale. Just worth mentioning. Now, on with the review...

This is a malty red ale with toasted-biscuity notes and a very good head. Lacing was nice. Very smooth, easy drinker this one is. I really dig the bottle artwork! That is a heck of a way to market this wonderful adult beverage. Will buy again and use the bottle as a decorative vase for the 'ole lady's flowers!

Photo of kmo1030
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

deep ruby brown amber with a thick frothy light tan head. nice lacing.
the smell is made up of toffee, biscuity carmel, some rather perfumy floral qualities, and cherry fruit aromas. these are noted on the bottle and nail it pretty dead on.
the taste brings some lightly peat smoked malts, biscuity caramel/toffee malts, a little bit of almost noble tasting hops. dark fruits pervade.
smoth fuller medium body with delicate but active carbonation.
great drinkability, i'm really surprised this doesn't sport a higher score, it's a very well crafted scottish ale. i wish i had picked up a few more.

Photo of oelergud
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep translucent ruby mahogany body with a tan creamy and rocky head. Great retention and beautiful lace.
Subdued malty nose slightly fruity and a mild presence of piney hops. Earthy and soft.
Well balanced earthy flavor, somewhat sweet but mostly a soft harshness of hops and pine. Pleasantly sweet and citric aftertaste followed by a hard hop front.
Medium body with some coating and a dry finish.
Good drinkability, pleasant and easy.


Photo of kmacphail
4.77/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is not an English Pale Ale as listed instead it is a ruby Scottish ale.

The beer pours a dark ruby colour with an off white head which settled to a 3mm film (decent for a botled beer).

The nose is dominated by one thing: malts,malts and more malts with a hint of roasted malts. Very nice, malty beers are becoming less frequent with the demise of 80/~.

The beer tastes of roasted malts with a slightly fruity hint of blackberries. The a very stereotypical scottish ale. The mouthfeel is medium to thick, just perfect for this type of ale.

The beer is very drinkable, it is easy to buy a dozen and finish these off in one sitting. Overall an excellent scottish ale, very old fashioned and very pleasant.

Photo of barefootbrewer
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a brown color with a ruby hue. It had about ½” retentive head with light lacing. The aroma is floral and hoppy with malt noticeable in the background. The taste is malty and spicy. It has a nice flavor blend that isn’t overpowering. The mouthfeel was a bit thinner than I would have hoped. Overall, this beer goes down smooth and would easily lend itself to sessions.

Photo of charlatan
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle with fine label depicting a fiery sea illuminated by the setting sun and (alas) indicating 4.0% abv rather than the 5.0% listed above.

Pleasant looking tan to red hued beer with a significant head which oddly seemed to dissipate somewhat before making a comeback! The nose is interesting: a gooseberry v raisin clash between hops and malt. With a very faint smokiness.

Yet it is the smoky, almost peppery malt which dominates the flavour here. This is very much a savoury beer despite the early burst of carbonation and a spell of stoutlike creaminess (there seem to be two tiers in my mouth at one point with the cream on top and bubbles underneath), with the toasted malt taking charge while a fint bitterness hums away in the background.

This certainly doesn't seem like an English Pale Ale, but I'd recommend it nonetheless.

Photo of Mitchster
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out to a very clear medium amber with red accents, forming a modest light yellow head with average retention and lacing. Carbonation is moderate to mild. The aroma reminds me of Eliot Ness...that roasty, sweet, nutty, toasty ale nose...very clean ferment with some nice fruity ale esters. Mouthfeel is crisp and medium-light bodied with a sparkingly bright finish. The taste is as the aroma would suggest...opens with some herbal hops, leads into nuts and toasty with some roasted barley, followed by some grainy astringency in the middle, a mild earthy bitternes, and a finish of light tobacco and toast. Not as sweet and big as I would hope, but hey, this is only 5%, so it's meant to be a sessioner. Faint suggestion of metals in the aftertaste. No peat.

A pretty good beer, but as far as Scotch Ales go, a little light in body, mouthfeel, and malt heft.

Photo of Minkybut
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'll guess this gets a 4! Poured from a bottle at 50 degrees to a tumbler. For a pale ale this beer is not pale. It is a deep dark brown color with a nice tan head that decayed pretty soon. The beer had great lacing though. Smell was slightyly hoppy and soo was taste. Malty also and a little sweet. Tiny bit hoppy but just about right. I really liked the beer and will buy it again.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to an amber red with medium off-white head that stuck around through mid-glass and left good lacing. Aroma was roasted nuts, though not real dominant, and flavor was more of the same. Finish was dry and slightly sweet, although not real long. A decent beer, but not Orkney’s best., as I failed to find the "bitter" in this ESB.

Photo of jettjon
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presented in a 500ml bottle, no freshness date noted. Decanted into the wine goblet, it pours a brownish ruby red with tiny bubbles beneath a one-finger brown-tan head. Nice slow fade down to a craggy cap with lots of sticky lacing. Nose is nice, heavy, sweet malt, a bit perfumy. Tastes warm in the mouth with mild malt character and slight bitterness. Nicely balanced. Slightly spicy/peppery. A pleasingly complex brew. Finishes on a dry, peat/dirt finish which I enjoyed but might take some getting used to. Mouth is viscous and semi-creamy with light carbonation; smooth overall. Drinkability is excellent; this is a mellow and quite tasty beer, suitable for enjoyment with some good red meat.

Overall: A great ale, very well balanced and enjoyable. Recommended.

Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As far as English Pale Ales are concerned, I really liked this beer. It has the maltiness of an amber (caramel, toffee), with the hopping rate of a Bitter, and the cleanliness of an ESB. With that, I'm surprised this beer doesn't rate higher. The look is a rusty, sly-of-clear, densly headed appearence with nice low-key carbonation. Aromas of solid malts (barley malt, caramel, and sweet breads). Fruitiness is less than the malty sweetness, but shows in the forms of red apples, figs, and dates. The flavors closely reinforce what is experienced in the nose; with emphasis on the malts and earthy hop flavor. A mild nutty flavor increases as the beer progresses. The feel is a rich and full malt feel with creaminess (carbonation) and an unwavering firmness. Finishes quite clean without any abrupt vaporation, graininess, or bite. Overall, this was a very good beer. No flavors that knocked my socks off, but a solid Scottish brew that offers the best characters of that region. I will certainly have more of these in the future.

Photo of dstc
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark ruby color with tan head that seemed to last through most of the beer with a fair amount of lacing left behind.

S: Smells like it should be fairly strong with earthy hoppy characteristics.

T: Pretty good. I like this beer but it has a strong bitter aftertaste.

M: Light, a little watery and good carbonation.

D: This is a fairly decent beer. While I enjoy drinking it the bitterness is something I have a hard time with, that's just my taste.

Photo of aleyeast
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Red amber in color with a thin light tan head that holds

Malty Fruity and slight hop edge on the nose, but everything is slight, very clean though and if I had to pick one, it would be light malt

Malt, caramel flavors, very slight smoke perception, may just be roast, hops just to balance, but this is definitely smooth. Would probably be very good on tap.

Very balanced.

Photo of claytri
4.57/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a dark amber with a tan head. The aroma was simply extra malty. The taste was so malty you might feel like you were eating it, and it has a nicely bitter finish. The feel is medium and dry. This is quite a fine example of what I'm looking for and generally find with Scottish ales. It has plenty of malt and that's fine with me. This is one I will buy when available.

Photo of KFaulkner
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A 1 pint bottle from Scotland featuring a badass Scotsman. That's about as badass as it gets though.

The beer isn't bad, don't get me wrong. But it seemed thin and a bit tasteless to me. Surprisingly bland... but not in a bitter, Anheuser-Busch sort of way. I think was surprised me the most was that it has absolutely no aftertaste. None. Nada. Zippo. The beer is nice and it a pleasant, viscous mouthfeel, but something was just missing and I think it was taste.

MacGregor was a descendant of Rob Roy... who was no Braveheart mind you. (Delgado just hit his second home run of the night to put the Mets ahead of the Cards in game 2 of the 2006 NLCS... Woo hoo!). Not that anyone cares about Braveheart anymore, the drunken anti-semite.

Anyway, the beer is probably worth skipping more than it is worth drinking, but it is unique and a nice find from Scotland; as far as Scotch beers go though, give the Heather Ales a try if you can find them.

Photo of tgbljb
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an aorage-copper color with massive slightly off-white puffy head. Very attractive lacing. Smell is firm and malty with strong tones of dark fruit. Taste is truly enjoyable with a strong sweet fruitiness balanced by a nice hop bitterness. The balance is almost perfect. Nice and creamy texture. Ending shows more of the dry bitternss, and is the perfect way to finish off this beer. So easy to drink that I was finished before I could get done writing this review. Excellent beer.

Photo of PCaravan
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Has a deep copper color and pours a thin but dense cream colored head.

Aroma is of deep malty notes of caramel and nuts with nice earthy English hops in the background. A bit of apply esters there as well.

Taste is more of the same deep malty notes of carmel, nuts, and earthy hops with maybe a touch of roastiness that adds to a smooth bitterness that only slightly lingers. Very complex and nicely balanced. Nice graininess too... everytime a take a sip I notice something else.

It has a nice level of carbonation and nice chewy mouthfeel I like in beers with good malt presence.

I have to rate the drinkability pretty high here. It's a substantially rich beer that's not so heavy to keep you from drinking more.

Photo of DaveFL1976
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice, cherrywood/mahogany colour with a foamy off-white head that settles down to a thin skim, and sticks to the side of the glass.
Aroma is sweet, caramel, and crystal malt.
Taste is much the same. You can really taste the crystal in this. Has a nice mouthfeel and it's hard to fault this beer. It doesn't stand out in any regard, either, and is good -but not great- in every regard.

Photo of SigEp
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a deep, well, red. Thin 1 finger head dissapates quickly. Slightly malty, good deal of hop bitterness in there but not a lot of hop aroma. Slightly smokey scent and flavor; I think they use a small amount of peated malt? Anyways, this beer is good, if you like any of those "irish" reds (killians etc.) this is a superior version of them; a good, solid, dark amber, scottish ale. I prefer some of the other offerings of the Orkney brewery and if you don't like this one don't give up on the entire line. Lists as "enlgish pale ale" here, but as I've said I believe there is some peated malt in this, making it not taste much like a traditional pale.

Photo of Shovelbum
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thin quickly dissipating white head over a red-hued copper body. Aromas of straight up caramel malt. More of the same in the flavor department with a notable yet mild earthy hop presence. Apart from the flavor contribution, the hops are not major players with little bitterness. Lean to medium body with moderate carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

The scales are definitely tipped to the malty side with little balance-- in true Scottish fashion. A tasty malt lover’s delight.

The Red MacGregor from Orkney Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 204 ratings.