Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Big Sound Scotch Ale - Cigar City Brewing

Not Rated.
Big Sound Scotch AleBig Sound Scotch Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

191 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 191
Hads: 651
Avg: 4.09
pDev: 19.07%
Wants: 186
Gots: 163 | FT: 16
Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing visit their website
Florida, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: cjgator3 on 12-05-2008

Big Sound Scotch Ale is dedicated to our good buddy Gino, the most Punk Rock Bagpiper you will ever meet, and the rest of the men and women of the Tampa Bay Pipes and Drums. 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. Big Sound Scotch Ale pairs well with Haggis, Highland Games, Huge Heads, Enormous pillows and of course Bagpipe Music.

40 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 191 | Hads: 651
Photo of claspada
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle had in my cellar for about 9 months, let's see if it was worth the wait.

Aromas are really Belgian forward which I did not expect; lots of dark fruit with some raisin, dark caramel malts, slight nuttiness and mild peat all upfront. Some very nice toffee and hints of caramel with some earthiness, maybe from the hops but I cannot be certain.

The taste begins with some raisin and sweet brown sugar upfront blended with a nice creaminess quickly followed. I almost get a delayed chocolate and plum taste in the middle. As it warms the beer becomes exponentially sweeter and borderlines cloying.

The mouthfeel is medium to fll bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is sweet and sticky from all the sweet malts, wish there was a tad bit more hops ornsome kind of bitterness to balance the sweetness.

Overall this is a very good scotch ale but lacks the balance I crave in this style. Too much sweet dark fruits and not enough dark roasted malts or hops to balance; that is literally the first time I have ever written that which says something. A good beer but would be better served in a smaller bottle because 22 oz is just too much because of the sweetness in my opinion.

 1,183 characters

Photo of garbercury
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Generous extra from BeerLovinGrl, thanks Chrissy!

A--Lacing is substantial and the retention is sticky to the glass. Deep reddish brown, classic to the Scotch Ale...

S--Cherries, and other sweet fruits come out in the nose. Cotton candy smell? Enjoyable and aromatic.

T--Sweet, with some nutty flavor, this adds to the malty characteristics of this brew. Somewhat medicinal, good but not great...

M--Maybe a touch over carbonated but certainly could be classified as good...

D--Pretty solid Scotch Ale, not a big expert on the style, and not quite as good as Old Chub, but certainly recommended...

 602 characters

Photo of chicagobeerriot
4.26/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After an honest down-the-middle pour, Big Sound produced a thick pillow of light mocha foam over a baker's chocolate brown brew that glows ruby-red at the edges when held up to the light. A very good looking beer.

Salt water taffy, brown sugar and a bit of candied fruit on the nose, but not as much of a powerhouse smell as some in the style.

The mouthfeel is appropriately medium-full without too much carbonation.

The taste is pleasantly surprising after the relatively weak smell. Starts wonderfully sweet, with brown sugar, milk chocolate, and a slight cherry fruit taste taking the lead. A satisfying bready malt (almost like toasted dark wheat bread) comes in at the end and melds very nicely with some alcohol warmth. Seems like this beer has enough backbone to take some barrel aging. Definitely could stand up to BBQ or a nice steak. Overall, this is among my favorite Scotch ales.

 895 characters

Photo of steve8robin
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This week appears to be Cigar City lineup week. I've gotten to try quite a few thanks to a gem of a beer store! 750ml...

A: A beautiful deep dark porter-esqu color with some transparency through it. A thick tan head quickly follows which fades slowly. Perfect!

S: I can smell this brew from the table! I get some great blends of raisin, sweet malts, walnut, and scotch all upfront. Followed comes some very nice toffee and hints of caramel with some sweet dry hop hidden well in the backend. This smells awesome! Very good!

T: I get some raisin and sweet sugars upfront blended with a nice creaminess quickly followed. I almost get a delayed chocolate and plum taste in the middle with an awesome blended scotch on the backend. So good!

M: Medium body with a great carbonation feel. A creamy wet finish. Very good.

D: Does not even taste like alcohol. Some scotch characteristics in the taste, but no alcohol burn. Very good!

All in all, a standing ovation here. Cigar City has done it again. Hunahpu blew me away, and now the second to blow me away from CC is Big Sound. I'd recommend trying this if you like well blended sweet flavorful beers. Great job CC!

 1,165 characters

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance -- Pours a deep mahogany hue with a massive stiff tan head.

Smell -- Cocoa, malted milk, cafe mocha, figs, rum raisin, toasted malt, herbal hops. Very aromatic.

Taste -- An abundance of sweet, malty notes: figs, rum-soaked raisins, toffee, molasses, mild roast coffee, dark chocolate, and malted milk. There's a big push of herbal/menthol hop flavor toward the finish that makes for a chocolate-covered Ricola-type flavor.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body with ample foamy carbonation. Feels nice, not unlike a nice Quad.

Drinkability -- Very interesting, sort of a Scotch Ale come American Barleywine. I wouldn't call this a quintessential Wee Heavy, but it is quite unique and drinkable. Glad I got my hands on a bottle!

 733 characters

Photo of Beerbuddha
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This brew poured a nice deep copper color with a nice solid off white head. Lacing present throughout.

Smell: Wonderful aroma of caramel, tobacco, roasted malt and dark fruit.

Taste: The taste in similar to aroma. Caramel and dark fruits dominate. Slight tea like bitterness which balances the sweetness well. Nice booziness comes across.

Mouthfeel: This is one full bodied brew with very little carbonation.

Overall: Incredible brew! Perfect brew for the colder nights! On a side note I actually marinated some pork shoulder in this brew and it was incredible.

 578 characters

Photo of SilentSabre
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 750mL bottle shared among 3 people (myself and 2 others).

Poured up a very dark reddish brown, nearly black, with a finger and a half of sandy, light brown foam. The colour of the body and the look of the foamy cap look quite nice.

The smell on this is terrific. Huge malt in the nose with a noticeable bit of fruit, particularly cherries. Not that artificial cherry candy smell, but the same 'realistic' cherry smell one gets from Bell's Cherry Stout. Very nice, indeed!

Big malt flavour, as expected, with a bit of dark fruit such as cooked raisins; reminds me a bit of tawny port, though not that extreme. Very tasty.

Quite viscous; flirting with being oily, but in a good way. Very low carbonation.

All things considered, I feel this is quite drinkable, though I also feel carving this up with two friends was the way to go. The 8,5%abv is very, very well concealed, but given the weight in the mouth, I don't know if I'd want all 750mL on my stomach at once...
A hell of a Scotch Ale, though..very well crafted, for sure!!

 1,035 characters

Photo of cbak999
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A -pours a dark, almost completely opaque brown. A small tan head sit atop the beer.

S - Sweet malt. Caramel and molasses notes also come through.

T - super sweet right off the bat. Makes my mouth pucker up a bit. A hop after taste prevails once you get past the molasses, malt, and raisin flavors.

D - This is a sipper. It took me a good hour to drink half of the 750mL bottle. The 8.5% is nicely hidden, but due to the pure sweetness, I can't consider it highly drinkable all the time.

 491 characters

Photo of Tabni
4.77/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought it at Whole Foods in Pinecrest. Served into my Orval Tulip. Great flavors I'm getting from this amazing Cigar City brew. Worth every penny of the $13.99 that I paid. Reminds me of a Skull Splitter. Hints of caramel and even toffee. Would buy this again for sure!

 269 characters

Photo of SFLpunk
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

750mL capped brown glass champagne bottle. No date.

Pours a deep, but clear, mahogany with creamy tan head that stands up tall. Nose is a little smoky with lots of molasses and dark caramel, plus some earthy-forest-floor type aromas. Palate is big and sweet, but bitter and finessed at the same time. Lots of toasted/roasted barley. Smoky again from the malt and malt bitterness is present too...black malt? Balance is achieved in some strange way though. As the beer warms the malt bill starts to remind me of the JW Lees Harvest ales. A little bitter, a little smoky and pretty caramel-sweet.

Notes: This is perhaps the most complex and pleasant Scotch ales I've ever had. Drinkability suffers only because it's SO big! A real must!

 736 characters

Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Loterbol tulip. Special thanks to neubernie for the hook-up!

A: Pours a very dark chestnut/mahogany color. Sitting on top is three fingers of creamy dark-khaki colored foam that sports great retention. Carbonation was moderately active and a lot of sticky lace was left behind.

S: Big nose full of toffee and caramel awash in raisins, chocolate, figs, roasted nuts, and milk chocolate covered cherries with a slight hint of coffee and alcohol. I was hoping for more in the way of some smoke or peat or smoky peat.

T: See above. A bit more smoked malt flavor comes out in the taste (compared to the smell) as it warms. Lovely Heath Bar flavor along with rum soaked dark fruit.

M: Very rich and savory. Sweetness could've easily gone overboard but is kept in check by some slightly prickly alcohol and quietly astringent hops.

D: Drinks extremely well considering the relative lack of smokiness. There's a bit of dryness and spicy prickle...just enough to keep the sweetness at bay. Plus, I struggled to really detect any sort of obtrusive alcohol presence. Nice.

 1,100 characters

Photo of Jwale73
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another great bottle shared by jdiddy. Pours a deep mahogany with a rocky, one inch, cream-colored head. Nose reveals raisins, brown sugar and a vinous quality. Taste is chocolatey, earthy and pruney. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a slightly assertive carbonation. This is a really exceptional Wee Heavy. Definitely one of my favorites for the style, if not my favorite.

 372 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle hauled with TLC from FL via NC over a 2 week period, a lot of icecubes gave themselves up to keep this tasty...

I tried the version aged on Cherry or was it cedar at CCB, not bad, but my taste buds were gone by then...

Pours an effervescent chestnut with 3+ fingers of fluffy tan head, tiny bubble cling to the bottom of the glass... Crazy head retention lacing

S: Toffee & slight herbal hop scents

T: Caramel & toffee, plus peatyness up front, some herbal hops lurk in the background. Dryness dominates as this warms along with woody hops & an oaky character, plus more peaty notes & some dates & dark cherry as well. Finishes dry, with caramel sweetness, fruitty & smokey

MF: Chewy as all get out, with fairly firm carbonation up front, mellows out when warm

Drinks pretty easy for the abv until the dryness settles in. Still like it better than the version I had the brewery. Not a perfect wee heavy, but tasty enough, I wish could get it on a routine basis

 974 characters

Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Good scotch ale appearance. It had cloudy/murky dark brown tones with a small, off-white head of thick foam. Nice retention and some lacing.

S - It smelled of peat and moss with a smoky aroma, too.

T - Good flavor blend of smoke, earthy hops and sweet caramel malt.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied beer that was somewhat chewy.

D - This is a very nice scotch ale/wee heavy. Glad I got to try this one.

 430 characters

Photo of robwestcott
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured aggressively from the bottle a thick, dark reddish brown to a dogfish head signature glass with a frothy, finger and a half mocha colored head that leaves a nice bit of lace as it slowly recedes.

aroma of malt, and dark fruits, fig, plums, and raisins, followed by an almost cloying sweet caramel sugar and vanilla extract.

a very sweet tasting beer, again, dark fruits are forward, figs and plums in particular followed by vanilla. very malty, and if there's a hops presence, i cannot place it.

medium carbonation, smooth and sweet to the tongue.

drinkable enough, i'll be emptying the 750ml bottle tonight.

 619 characters

Photo of stakem
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken on 6/5/10.

Firkin made available during Philly beer week. Served in a small snifter approximately 6oz pour. It appears a cloudy brown color with a creamy offwhite head that laces in a solid wall about the glass. Sweet caramel malt filled nose has a slight citrus hop bite before the rest of the malt aromas fills the nose with other dark fruity suggestions and a bit of vanilla. The taste is quite appealing, this is a very solid example of scotch ale. Malt flavors all over the place with a kick of alcohol and hop bitterness. The malt is represented with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, caramel and some suggestions of dark skinned fruit. Feel with this beer is full with a mild level of carbonation. There is a lingering flavor of chocolate and alcohol that mingles with some hops left in the mouth. Overall an awesome brew.

 851 characters

Photo of joepais
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Thanks Grant for the treat. Pored this one into a large snifter sitting by a camp fire. I must say it may have influenced my score some by adding to the experience I even lit up a Liga Privada no.9 for my second glass which paired prefect in my book. The brew had a tan colored head on top of a dark brown body, and the head lasted leaving great lacing on the side of the glass.

Big roasted malt aromas' come from this brew, so you get some coffee espresso notes. Now It might have been the campfire but I did get a slight hint of smoke LOL. It had a medium to light body. I wished for a tad more probably my only knock on the brew.

The flavor was great, it had a healthy amount of sweet caramel malts to me with the right amount of roasted bitters to keep this brew well balanced. Again I did get some smokiness to it as well, but like I said the atmosphere enhanced this one.

A great scotch ale well worth the effort to obtain. The drinkability was off the charts for me. I would love another bottle (hint)

 1,013 characters

Photo of prototypic
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big Sound pours a dark, nut brown color. Light cutting through gives it a golden brown look. A caramel colored head covers the top and stands about two and a half fingers tall. It's very slow to recede. Lacing was certainly sticky, but light.

The nose is impressive. It's chock full of malts...brown, caramel, and a little chocolate. There's a bit of a sweet smell to it. But, a light cocoa/chocolate presence is also noted. Roasted coffee is relatively prominent. That's welcome in my book. It blends well with the wealth of malt present. Alcohol is blended well and isn't very noticeable. Smells good to this guy.

The flavor is excellent. Probably even a little better than the nose. This stuff hits on all cylinders! It kicks off with a sweet, caramel/toffee flavor. The brown/caramel/chocolate malt base is very strong. Light chocolate and cocoa flavors aren't as strong as the caramel, but they're duly noted. Coffee is probably the x-factor here. It adds quality depth and strong character to the overall flavor. Alcohol is masked well and goes largely unnoticed. It finishes sweet with a touch of java. Very impressive.

Big Sound has a medium body. It's very smooth due to light carbonation. More body would probably add something here, but I can't complain too much. Drinkability is very high. This is a quality Scotch Ale that's simply delicious. It might be a little hefty, but it's going down like a dream.

This is my first beer from Cigar City Brewing. I must say, it's a big time winner in just about every respect. Big Sound is a fantastic Scotch Ale. Its greatest attribute is the coffee flavor. It really ramps up the flavor a lot. It doesn't have any big weak points. More body would probably improve the feel a little. Otherwise - spot on! Go find a bottle.

 1,779 characters

Photo of aahynick
4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

about 40 degree F into a pint glass
A- garnet to black with a long lasting giant head

S- chocolate and peat

T- I just O'd. Rich chocolate, peak smoke and malt

M- like a $15 milkshake, so creamy, sooo nice

D- this could easily become my favorite. The stuff is pricy but DAMN!.

 279 characters

Photo of atlaShrugged
4.58/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle from St Pete Total Wine

a - deep brown, good head retention, lacing

s - toffee and caramel

t - caramel and toffee, enough alcohol to make you take pause but not enough to overpower the other flavors

m - medium to full bodied, mild carbonation

d - This kept me coming back for more trying to wrap my head around it. It seems CCB was trying pretty hard to make good beer. Luckily, they succeeded. Insert any other A rating here.

 447 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is caramel and toffee malt with some smoke and chocolate. I also get some woody and oak notes even though the beer is not barrel aged as far as I know. The flavor is heavy on the milk chocolate with some light smoke and toffee. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. One of the better Scotch Ales I have tried.

 417 characters

Photo of FleeVT
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brown bomber with a little piece about the brew, no dates anywhere on the bottle.

Pours a deep mahogany with tan pillowy head. Carbonation bubble are big. The nose is sweet with roasted malts. Lots of toffee, hints of dark berries, and maybe a touch of molasses. A mild alcohol undertone but it is inviting. A nice full mouth with perfect texture, not too much carbonation. More sweetness on the tongue, with berries and toffee coming through again. It warms the throat, then leaves you with lip licking sweetness that is fantastic. This is a hell of a beer and a best in class for the style. I would pair it with dessert, or some gamey meat.

 643 characters

Photo of koopa
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one on firkin at Capones 6.5.10 during the CCB Philly Beer Week event they had.

Appearance: Pours a brown dominant shade of mahogany with a nice 2 finger dirty khaki crown that exhibits some retention and good lace.

Smell: Lightly roasted scotch malt, hint of honey, slight chocolate covered raisins note.

Taste: Same as nose.

Mouthfeel: Nice creamy head, thick side of medium bodied and better than the standard tap version in my opinion.

Drinkability: Not bad considering the abv.

 498 characters

Photo of WeisGuy
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle from Tampa Whole Foods

a - pours a deep brown with burgundy highlights, three finger mocha head, good retention and lacing

s - toffee and caramel dominate with a good deal of smokiness and wood also mixed in, lighter hoppy and oatmeal aromas

t - as with the nose, caramel and toffee are the predominant flavors, light orange flavors on the midpalate, finish has some smokiness mixed in with the sweet caramel and toffee and orange notes, alcohol is not very noticeable, very smooth flavors and, most importantly, not cloyingly sweet like several examples of this style that I've tried

m - medium to full bodied, moderate carbonation, fairly sweet on the finish, definite alcohol warming effect

d - very drinkable for the style that I don't typically care much for, I would have no problem polishing off the bottle with little help, flavors are complex enough to keep it interesting and the sweetness is restrained enough to keep the palate fresh

Probably the best example to this style that I've tried. Another winner from CCB.

 1,047 characters

Photo of ffejherb
4.24/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dispensed via firkin at Capone's on 6/5/10 during Cigar City event for Philly Beer Week.

A - Appeared as an extremely murky, cloudy earthy brown liquid with a flimsy beige head that disappeared completely.

S - Rich and malty nose with plenty of caramel, toffee and vanilla as well as a hint of floral notes. After some time, a coffee and roasted malt character develops, adding a bit of depth to the aroma.

T - The initial flavor incorporates much of the same rich, sweet toffee and caramel attributes found in the aroma. Vanilla and traces of sugar candy are also apparent, as well as a hint of coffee. Finishes with a leafy, earthy hop bite and lots of chocolate character in the backend.

M - Medium bodied with a smooth texture, resulting in a fairly silky mouthfeel. Finishes with subtle bitterness and a hint of dryness on the palate.

D - This is a tasty-ass Scotch Ale, although I think I was a bit more floored when I had this from the bottle. Of course, that was my first-ever Cigar City brew, so my memory may be a bit skewed. All in all, this is an outstanding beer.

 1,082 characters

Big Sound Scotch Ale from Cigar City Brewing
91 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.