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McEwan's Scotch Ale - The Caledonian Brewing Company

Not Rated.
McEwan's Scotch AleMcEwan's Scotch Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

448 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 448
Hads: 668
Avg: 3.8
pDev: 17.11%
Wants: 37
Gots: 41 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
The Caledonian Brewing Company
United Kingdom (Scotland) | website

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy | 8.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UnionMade on 08-17-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of McEwan's Scotch Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 448 | Hads: 668
Photo of biegaman
3.89/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Think what you will about Scottish people, but Scotch Ales are extremely good-looking; deep garnet in colour, McEwan's is handsome enough to qualify for Time magazine's 'sexiest man alive' list. Its reddish highlights are reserved yet it boasts perfect clarity. Its head looks like shattered pieces of seashells.

While it won't quite match up to your favourite dram, this aroma nonetheless makes good fireside accompaniment; there's more than enough worthy of sniffing and savoring. Dried and lightly sherried fruits abound, leaving caramelly maltiness to sink into the backdrop. Smells delectable!

McEwan's Scotch Ale was the first example of the style I tried as well as one of the first dark beers in general. I liked it immediately; the flavour profile was not like anything I had tried before. While the taste is more familiar nowadays I'm still very much fond of its characteristically sticky, figgy, nutty maltiness.

...as well as the faint suggestions of red grape, currants, toffee, molasses and, naturally, peat. A note on the latter, the peaty presence isn't strong enough to elicit the vegetal, sea-drenched scotches of Islay but there is a subtle smokiness buried in there somewhere (note: not roastiness, only smoke).

Despite intricate flavours, the mouthfeel is a little light, almost cola-esque on some sips. By the same token it drinks exceedingly easy for an 8% beer. Some will view this positively, others negatively. I'm on the fence - I'd like more body but prefer to enjoy a beer rather than have to fight through it.

McEwan's Scotch Ale is right beside haggis, porridge and deep fried Mars bars on the list of classic Scottish gastronomy. It is unarguably one of the best examples of the style - seriously, look it up in the BJCP - and continues to be one of the most consistent through the years. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep mahogany amber color with a one finger head of thick white foam. The head has a decent level of retention, slowly fading over time to leave a decent sum of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the brew is rather strong of a caramel smell mixed with a big brown sugar and dark fruit aroma of raisin, cherry, and prune. Along with these smells comes some nice aromas of warming alcohol and a little bit of a bready and slightly oaky aroma. A rather nice smell overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a rather thick bready taste with a bit of a fruit flavor that consists of raisin, plum, and cherry. Upfront there is also some light caramel and brown sugar which grow stronger as the taste advances. While the booziness is very light upfront, it grows stronger as the taste advances, bringing on a nice warming taste more toward the end. With more fruit and a little bit of grain mixing in with the booze and fruit, one is left with a warming dark fruit taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is moderately thick and heavy with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. For the rich, malty, and sweet flavors of the brew the feel is rather well done and makes for a rich slow sipper as a scotch at 8 % should be.

Overall- Not a bad more heavy hitting scotch brew with a good blend of an alcohol burn (which I think a strong scotch should have) with a somewhat sweet and malty flavor.

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Photo of bkczec
1.67/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

I just don't understand the appeal for this swill. I did a century beer promotion at a bar. 100 beers over some time. This beer and some awful cherry wheat beer were the bottom two. This beer has a thick carmel/molasses pour and taste. It had little to no head to it and reminded me more of a syrup than a beer. If this was the first beer I had ever tasted I would never have been a beer drinker. Label is kind of cool though, so thumbs up for that.

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Photo of Marraybay
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Surprisingly dark color: Not much head, but decent lacing. To begin, alcohol is definitely forward with a bourbon-like note. Some sweetness. (Note: Was checking the bottle to see if there were any statements regarding "barrel-aging," given the prominence of the whiskey flavor.) Do find that the bourbon subsides somewhat (thankfully) as the pour is consumed + warms. As such, would say I enjoyed the 2nd half more than the first. Would probably choose a Belhaven in a head-to-head SA battle, but all-and-all, not a bad beer. Definitely unique.

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Photo of sjccmd
4.29/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rich and malty aroma. Some fruity esters. Nice melanoidins. Caramel and dark fruits. Somewhat cola like. Molasses and toast. No hop character.

Pours very dark brown nearing black. Light tan head that recedes quickly. Some lacing.

Very rich and malty. Toast and biscuits. Almost roasty but not quite. An almost briney quality, very minerally. Quite dry despite the amount of malt character. A hint of dark fruits. Caramelized sugar. A certain earthy quality, tree bark perhaps. Very nice.

Medium low carbonation, medium full body. Dry and minerally.

I believe it's the dryness and earthy mineral quality that sets this apart from many American versions.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
4.51/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Oh man. This is one of my original beer loves and I scored some after many years away (2015 12oz bottle, fridge temperature). A lot of my original British loves seem disappointing now after enjoying the fruits of the great American beer revolution for so many years, but this is a standout exception. I'm really confused as to why the overall score here is just "very good". This is way more drinkable than the too-dense nice-tries Old Chub or Claymore, and the taste and smell are like a British pub crammed into a bottle. Get some if you can!

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Photo of PorterPro125
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 330 mL Bottle

A- Pours a black colour that is actually more of a brownish-ruby colour when held up to a light. Topped with 1/2 finger of white head that goes down to a whispy layer quickly. Light lacing on glass.

S- Little bit of smokey malt and definitely straight alcohol on the nose. Kind of pleasant despite the alcohol being quite noticeable. Nose is faint until the beer warms up a fair amount .

T- Smokey malts with certain woodiness that is really interesting. A little bit of whiskey near the end. Nice flavour.

M- Moderate-Heavy body. Slightly chewy. Medium carbonation.

O- One of the best scotch ales I've had. Nice smokey flavours and a beautiful warming effect that feels nice on a stormy day. Let it warm up before drinking and you will have yourself an excellent drink. Highly recommended.

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Photo of LordofthePings
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle into mug, new version from 2014.

I seem to remember this beer being maltier with less alcohol flavor before they discontinued it and began rebrewing. Maybe thats just nostalgia though. Dark brown, lots of smokey malt. Alcohol comes through in flavor and smell. Oak and whiskey notes. One of my favorite examples of the style with lots of good memories. Glad they brought it back even though I have to drive 5 hours to buy it. Prefer it just under room temp, fridge temp takes away a lot of the flavor.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.46/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, deep, dark, almost opaque , black color with an eighth of a finger of oatmeal-colored head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Roasty, toasty, malty! Lots of freshly baked dark bread, comingling with some brown sugar-like sweetness and a hit of alcohol.

Taste: Jesus, that’s good! Malt bomb to the max!! Strong notes of both toasted and roasted malt, imparting both breadiness and smoke, followed by some brown sugar-like sweetness. Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy, with some pretty good carbonation. With an ABV of 8.0%, there’s a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is the granddaddy of Scotch ales, and it’s absolutely delicious! I’ll always have some of this on hand…as long as I can find it. Highly recommended!

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Photo of Act25
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I ended up with overall 4 for this one because I preferred it over most domestic Scotch Ales I have tried including Oskar's Old Chub.

A: Pours a clear, porter, cola color with a medium creamy head that leaves a good bit of lacing and islands of mocha.

S: Too modest, caramel malt, biscuit, peat, grain, and a bit of pine sap shellac.

T: Kept coming back to this for its sweet, inviting malty caramel with complex pine, grass, peat, and nice peaty, scotch alcohol finish.

F: Like Scotch whiskey, rich, silky mouthfeel, smooth.

Great example of the style, easy drinking, let it warm of course.

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Photo of Amalak
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%

A very deep dark brown with a huge, foamy white head and great lacing. Metallic, lemon, malt scent. Bready. With a dark fruit grape undertone. Lemon a bit of metallic, like the scent. Full bodied and smooth. Nutmeg.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.59/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Excellent Wee Heavy, plenty of malt and smoke in both the aroma and the taste. Very smooth and easy to drink at 8% with only a slight bitter on the end.

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Photo of hardy008
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%

Pours dark brown with ruby highlights, with a one finger light tan head, with good retention and lacing. The aroma is sweet and has caramel malt, peat, dark fruit, and toasted malt. Very nice.

Has a nice sweet flavor with caramel, peat, toasted malt, dark fruit, toffee, and a little earthiness. The sweetness is not overly sweet. There is not much bitterness for balance, but I don't think it is needed for this style of beer.

Medium bodied with modest carbonation. Has a caramel and peat aftertaste. Well worth drinking over and over again. I'm glad to see this beer is back in the states.

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Photo of BradMacMullin
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Had this at some random bar in Dunoon in Scotland. It was a decent Scottish ale - nothing to write home about but ok. People were unattractive and soccer was on, so that didn't help

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Photo of bsp77
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Dark brown with ruby highlights. Thin tan head.

Smell: Brown sugar, toffee and lots of very overripe dark fruit.

Taste: Very sweet with brown sugar and dark fruit that has been sitting on the counter for a few days. Some light toffee and chocolate. The finish has some counterbalance from spicy hops, but this still stays in sweet territory. The mix of overripe fruit and spice really reminds me of Dark Belgian Ales.

Feel: Full body that is fairly sticky. Low carbonation. Slightly warming.

Overall: This was one of my favorite beers from many years ago and I am thrilled to try it again. It actually tastes somewhat similar to what I remembered but, at the time, I did not recognize that there were Belgian elements to this Scotch Ale. Overall, it is sweet and decadent but not quite cloying. Good stuff.

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Photo of Ryan_Graham
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours dark black with no head and decent lacing. The smell is solid. Sweet and malty with chocolaty notes to the nose. I found the taste a bit underwhelming. It starts a bit bland and watery but finishes sweet. It tastes very sugary, almost like chocolate milk. The aftertaste is unique-- it's sweet. The booze is almost undetectable which is impressive for an 8.0% ABV. Overall, I wasn't overly impressed. It's a solid beer with a sweet finish but the flavor doesn't blow me away. It's worth a try though.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

BBD 9/23/14. Very dark amber pour with a dark ruby cast. Nice head that laces well but diminishes in 3 minutes. Light nose of malt with hints of fig and other dark fruit. Outstanding medium body with a texture that approaches slick. Normal carbonation level. The well balanced and complex flavor profile is a blend of dark fruit that completely masks the 8.0% alcohol, set against a subtle caramel sweetness that is blessed with a touch of smoke. The finish is smooth with a short lived burst of smoke. Glad this outstanding ale is back.

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.2/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured chilled in shaker pint, chez white

A: very dark; huge head; great lacing and excellent carbonation
S: all malt, very light
T: treacle, molasses, brown sugar; no hops, and out of balance; bit of ripe banana. @buzzlitebeer: "platonos maduros 2 weeks old" Well, I'm not so sure, but it does not best exemplify this style.

Not bad overall, but don't rush out to get one.

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Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is clear but very dark garnet red is color (close to being black when viewed from afar). It poured with a thin off white head that died down, leaving only a small patch of bubbles
S: Moderate aromas of toffee and caramelized malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, but has much more pronounced flavors of toffee and slight hints of bitterness and sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer seems a little lighter compared to some other Scotch Ales, but is easy to drink and is interesting enough to sip.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

McEwan’s Scotch Ale has a medium, spongy, beige head and a very dark brown (yet, ruby under strong light) appearance, with a little thin lacing left behind. The aroma is of sweet and spicy dark-roasted malt, dark bread crust, and maybe prunes. The taste is of all that, with dates, prune juice, strong, roasted malt, a touch of hop bitterness, and possibly a hint of chocolate. Brandy-like alcohol is present as well. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy and somewhat velvety, and McEwan’s Scotch Ale finishes rich, sugary, and dessert oriented. Overall, this is really nice, and I am glad it was restarted.


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Photo of CaptainStubing
4.62/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

When The Mads see this, I hope they'll move it over to McEwan's new page...

I essentially joined BA just to rant and rave over this brew; how it was no longer available, when was it coming back, yadda yadda yadda...

And now, it's HERE!!! After years of waiting, begging, waiting, searching forums, waiting, calling and emailing distributors, breweries, and local stores, and WAITING, I hold in my hands as I type a bona fide NEW McEwan's Scotch Ale, right here in the U.S. of A. It is no longer brewed by the Caledonian Brewery, however. Wells & Young have lovingly dug within their soul(s), and found a soft place for us beer geeks to land. First and foremost may I say a very hearty "Thank You!" to this fine company. They put up with a lot of us calling and clamoring for 1 specific ale that they worked diligently on for months to get just right.

So, how does it taste?

A - 5 - When I got to the store to purchase, I nearly wept. For that reason alone, it gets a 5. However, that distinctive light lacing at the top, the deep ruby color were all there, just as I remembered. If I could have rated higher, I would have.

S - 4.25 - Okay, so this is my 1st review. I don't want to just give 5's across the board, so this is my lowest rating. Not that it's not "perfect", but I honestly never jammed my nose into a McEwan's in years past. Still, it is a lovely aroma now - slightly fruity smells, like fresh berries. Very pleasant.

T - 4.75 - Remember your last McEwan's? Let me just say yeah, Wells & Young nailed it. Smokey, caramel flavor abounds, with a lovely aftertaste. Still 8% A.B.V., so a strong one that deserves respect (just like any Scotsman!)

M - 4.50 - Only because it is HEAVY! A thick brew that'll make ya' chew. But Old McEwan's was the same - 1 or 2 in a sitting, but any more and you'd be a fool. Which stings, because I want more right now. Hmmmm...

O - 4.75 - Alright, the real "overall" would be 4.625 (math geek) but let me say, even though the world waited for so long, it was worth the wait! If you truly enjoyed McEwan's before, the same joy can be had again. No, now you are older, balder and heavier. You have aged terribly. But McEwan's hasn't. I hope it will be with us for many years to come.

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Photo of barczar
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pretty sure this is several years old.

Pours an opaque deep brown with amber highlights and a modest half inch khaki head that lingers.

Molasses, toffee, roasted malt, booze, and a bit of peat begin the aroma. Deep caramelization and a vanilla quality emerge.

Flavor is sweet and buttery, with diacetyl and molasses dominating initially, accompanied by figs, prunes, dates, raisins, and deeply caramelized malts. There's a nutty, lightly roasted malt backbone. Earthy hops round out the profile, which finishes slightly dry. Cola and peaty notes emerge as it warms.

Body is syrupy, with minimal carbonation and slight alcohol warmth.

Overall, a delicious, dark fruit-centric beer, with a touch of earthiness. Fairly peaty. The cola flavor is offputting.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.08/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on-draught into a .25cl tulip in a cafe in Belfort, France. 7.2%. Reviewed from notes taken in June 2011.

A: Pours a one finger head of nice cream, fair thickness, and average retention. Body colour is a dark ruby-black.

Sm: Caramel, chocolate, malts, toffee, and alcohol.

T: The notes from the nose are all present in the body, and come together nicely for the climax. Caramelized malt ties it together but feels overdone. The balance is decent. Fairly complex, but far from unique. Built fairly well for the style.

Mf: Coarse enough to bring out its flavours, but otherwise smooth and wet to aid drinkability. Complements the flavours nicely.

Dr: Easy to drink and of above average quality, but it's ass expensive in France at 3 quid per half pint. It's a nice little Scotch Ale, but not good enough to warrant buying again. I'll stick to Old Chub for my go-to Scotch Ale. It does hide its ABV well.


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Photo of brewskifan55
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At the Jolly Judge while on a literary pub tour, Edinburgh.

A: Semi-dark amber with a creamy, one finger head that stays. Thick lacing.

S: Heavy on the malts, with dark fruits cascading in (raisens, plums, figs).

T: Follows nose. Rich, sweet, smokey.

M: medium with medium carbonation.

O: A very smooth Wee Heavy, not as strong as I thought. But this was a cask ale, not from a bottle, so a bit of difference. Would like to try from a bottle.

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Photo of sweetmaltman
5/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It has been a while (1 1/2 years) since I was priviledged to sample this, since it is no longer imported to the US, I do not know when I will have the pleasure again.

This is my favorite beer! Strong on the malt with hints of raisins, figs, peat, vanilla and caramel. A great sipping beer (8% alc.). You probably would not want to drink more than 2 or 3. Complex aroma that carries over to the tasting. Just a wonderful pastime. Take your time, savor it, do not be in a hurry!

My only wish is that Caledonia would start exporting it to the US again.

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McEwan's Scotch Ale from The Caledonian Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 448 ratings.