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Piper Down Scottish Ale | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Piper Down Scottish AlePiper Down Scottish Ale

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-15-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 341
Photo of Darkmagus82
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep mahogany brown color with a one finger head of tan colored foam. The head fades rather fast leaving a good deal of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma of the brew is strong of a roasted malt and molasses smell. Along with these aromas comes some other smells of caramel and darker fruits with just a hint on a floral hop note.

Taste – The taste begins much drier then I would have anticipated from the nose, starting with just a hint of caramel sweetness mixed with a rather stronger roasted bready taste. As the taste advances the caramel upfront fades away with a light dark fruity flavor taking its place. At the same time some hop flavors of a grassy and floral hop taste mixed with a little bit of graininess come to the tongue and with a light earthy hop coming at the very end, one is left with a rather dry and roasty taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- The body of the brew is on the thinner side with a carbonation level that is rather low. The low carbonation is nice for the style, but a thicker body would have accentuated the roasty flavors slightly better. Overall, it was an OK feel.

Overall – I have to say I am a bit disappointed with this Ballast Point brew. They normally do most all styles nice, but this was way too dry and flavorless for a Scottish ale in my opinion. Certainly not their best…

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Photo of Texter
3.1/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Surprisingly low in alcohol for a Scottish Ale, not bad but there are much better examples of the style elsewhere, which is probably why this is in a sampler pack at my local store. There is always one beer in the sampler that makes you kind of regret getting the pack to begin with.

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Photo of WoodButcher
3.02/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color was the best part of this beer. Poured a deep amber caramel color with a thin head that dissipated quickly with little lacing. Nose was sweet malt and little more. Likewise the taste was mostly malty with a bit of caramel, minimal nuttiness and a late bitter finish. Overall this was an underwhelming brew. Just nothing remarkable. Very one dimensional and not a great example of a scotch ale. If anything it was more like a typical amber ale, but even that would have been an unimpressive example. For the i prices you pay here on the east coast for Ballast Point I'd expect something special. This could be a Saranac or other non-craft brew. BP better step it up with more than fancy IPAs if they expect me to buy their beer.

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Photo of drtth
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours out into a Duvel glass a reddish brown color with a 1/2" light than head that soon recedes to a thin layer of foam with a ring around the glass and a small, more dense, island of foam in the middle. Sipping creates several small patches and a few legs of lacing. Even before the beer is half finished most of the surface foam has disappeared, the ring is very tiny, and the bits of foam left by sipping mostly soon slide down to the liquid.

The aromas include some caramel, what seems to be a hint of smoke, and some lightly roasted malt.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose with that caramel, roasted malt, and a light touch of smokiness. In addition the sweetness seems to contain light molasses as well as the caramel. There's also some very faint bitterness.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium bodied and lightly prickly with the light but persistent carbonation. The finish starts about a third of the way in as the caramel and molasses sweetness begin to fade allowing the lightly roasted malt some time on center stage before it fades away into the persistent light bitterness that hangs around to the end when there is also a touch of dryness.

This seems a well enough made beer and I'm enjoying having this one. But that said I probably won't be having this one again as there are other Scottish Ales that I enjoy more that are more readily available.

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Photo of T100Mark
3.62/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A 22 ounce bomber poured into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance - A nice rusty copper color. A little hazy. A dense tan head that sticks around for a bit. A fair amount of stickage.

Smell - Sweet. Tart.

Taste - Sweet malt flavor. Tart/tangy. Minimal hops (almost non-existent).

Mouth - Tangy. A bit fizzy.

Overall - A San Diego beer that's not loaded with hops? I've read that the Scots don't use hops because they don't have any (they are too far north). This is too bad as a few more hops would have been a nice addition here. It is what it is.

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Photo of Wer34truh
3.71/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy brown color with a medium-sized head.

Smells of biscuits, brown sugar, and candy.

While I was not entirely sold on the smell, this taste really good.The malts are definitely present, but it's complemented by a delightful chocolate taste, and some juicy milkiness as well. Mouthfeel is light, while the body is surprisingly full.

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Photo of THSdrummer
3.76/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a rich deep plum color, which almost looks black in low-light situations. The head is medium-thin and foamy, with a mild amount of lacing. Roasted malts and caramel notes in the aroma. Smooth malt biscuits open up the flavor palette, which also includes a hint of toffee and caramel. Mouth feel is so-so. Not as full bodied as I'd hope for, but still pleasant. A bit on the watery side. Overall, this is a pleasant beer. Not the greatest renditions of scottish ales, but certainly not something to turn your nose up at.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of Beejay
3.06/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: A ruby brown color with a large tan head.

S: Roasted grain, caramel and brown sugar.

T: There is a certain sweetness to this, and very subdued. Fairly light roasted malt, with notes of caramel and cream.

M: Medium light in body, with moderate carbonation, there is a little cling in the finish, but not nearly as rich or thick as what a standard Scottish would be. There is definitely a very English flavor to this, but almost too mild for the style. Almost like a more robust brown.

O: Overall it is tasty, but not necessarily what I think of when I think Scottish Ale. There is almost a softness to it, that I think is in opposition to what this beer should be.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.01/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

The beer is a beautiful dark copper color with a tan head that recedes quickly to a light film. Lacing consists of random small dots. The aroma is sweet and the caramelized malts really shine. Toffee, caramel, and sweet bread comes to mind. The beer is as sessionable as any 5.8% beer I've ever consumed as it has a nice sweet maltiness with a lot of caramel but is then followed with a nice subtle tangy finish. The mouthfeel is medium to light in body, it goes down very smooth.

Overall, this is really good, it's my kind of beer. On the sweeter side, but balanced.

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Photo of Chandango
3.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very new to this style of beer, so I may amend this review after tasting more scottish ales, but as a general beer drinker, this is pretty good, with lots of 'slightly' aspects. It pours a deep amber brown color, with a slightly off white head that disappears quickly. It smells slightly sweet, roasted malts, a bit nutty that also comes through in the first tasting. It's got a nice balance of sweetness, with the slightest hop finish (kind of wish there was just a bit more actually). Overall a drinkable beer and pretty good beer

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.68/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Teku glass.
Gorgeous Ruby clear with faint caramel head.
Smells English and metallic and malty. Vaguely fruity.
It tastes good! Fruity, yes; amberish. A little Apple-caramel. Clean, round sweet finish. Good, but not as good as the pumpkin variety.

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Photo of SSS
3.59/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Brown with a reddish head disappears quickly
S-Scotch notes but very subtle
M-Light mouthfeel
T-Watery taste that is not too complex
O-A decent beer, but no more.

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Photo of LXIXME
3.29/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Great burnt amber reddish color sits below a minimal off white head without any lacing sticking to the glass.
Weak Scottish tasting beer was a bit off setting since the aroma has a decent Scottish sweetness to it.
I'm usually a fan of Ballast Point stuff but I'll have to wait for the new and improved version of a Scottish Ale from these guys before I try it again.

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Photo of Mitzvahman72
3.3/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Malt forward with a bold dark red, it boasts a slightly dry, slightly fruity balance with a slightly sweet, slightly roasty taste. It also has a slightly acidic aftertaste that makes it not as similar to Karl Strauss’ Red Trolley Ale. There isn't any peat taste found in this beer! However, you will find it in Sprecher Brewery’s Piper’s Scotch-style ale, Ale Smith's Wee Heavy and even Belhaven Brewery’s Wee Heavy. A good non-peat Scotch ale will be the Kilt Lifter from Moylan's Brewing Company in Novato (Don't let the not-so-classy beer name discourage you. This is a good beer!)

Meanwhile, I recommend going for the pumpkin version of this beer called the Pumpkin Down. It really improves on the overall design of this beer!

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Photo of Jimlikesbeer
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Not really a scotch ale to me. Good taste though, just not what I was expecting. Caramel with just a hint of sweetness. No hop after taste. I agree with some of the other reviews that this is more of a bock style of beer. Great product for the price.

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Photo of thehooksman
3.91/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I admit I'm not very familiar with this style. The others I've had seemed to be quite heavy in that Scotch whiskey peat flavor. This one, on the other hand, is not. From tap into a pint glass, it was a clear, deep red-brown with a finger of creamy off-white foam that lingered for a bit. The aroma was sweet malt, caramel, and nuts. The flavor struck me as just a really good Bock, but with a small hint of smoke and peat in the aftertaste. The mouth was medium and smooth. I'd definitely have this again.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
2.97/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

This scotch ale just didn't do it for me, and I expected better from Ballast Point. The aroma and taste reminded me more of a slightly smokey bock than a scotch ale and the flavor had a distinct metallic flavor that killed it for me. One of the worse scotch ales I've had. To fans of the style, I cannot suggest this brew,

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Photo of arizcards
3.79/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a bomber from TW Arrowhead in late May for $4.99. No intelligible bottling date.

Beer poured brown with a nice tan head that dissipated quickly.

Nose is light caramelized malts.

Taste is dominated by those caramelized malts, light sweetness but enough hopping to keep the taste nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall a very tasty brew that is true to the Scottish Ale style. Definitely give it a shot if you are into this type of brew!

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Photo of Trooper92292
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Regardless of the score, I really enjoyed this. First of it's kind I've had but it's definitely something I want to buy again and have with my friends.

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Photo of russpowell
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours an effervescent crimson with a pinky of cream colored head. Stays effervescent,
Okay head retention & lacing

S: Faint brown bread & leafy hops

T: Brown bread, a little smokeyness, & faint leafy hops up front, some caramel as well. Pears & apple skins as this warms, more caramel & smokeyness. Finishes a little fruity, slightly sweet, & with faint smokeyness & leafy hops, plus slight dryness, faint brown sugar notes

MF: Light/medium body, fairly firm carbonation

Drinkable, but I would take an Odell 90 shilling any day. Granted it is a little weaker
Not a bad take on the style, a little over-gassed, just doesn't impress style-wise

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3.59/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, clean brown - red against the light, small head - no retention and little lace.
Malty, toffee, a little spice in the aroma.
Brown sugar, light spice, dark fruit and very little bitterness but not overly sweet either,
Easy to knock back and not easy to recognize as a Scottish Ale.

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Photo of tigg924
3.96/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Taste is peat, toffee, and toasted malt. There is a nice smokiness that lingers throughout. One of the better Scotch ales I have had recently. Worth a try, especially on tap.

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Photo of ElJacobian
4.03/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I don't understand why most of the ratings are so low - this is a great ale. If you are expecting a bunch of hops and tropical flavors then I could see why you'd be disappointed. The color is a great dark ruby, like a chocolate cherry dr pepper. Not too much of a smell but I'm getting a lot of toffee. The taste is wonderful - dark fruits, heavy toffee, caramel and malt. Very bold, heavy beer that is well balanced in my opinion. This is probably one of the best dark ales I've had.

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Photo of Totalpackage411
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

This is a good beer, not a great one. It is one of the better ones I've tried from Ballast Point. The beer goes down smooth and tastes good, a pretty basic ale.

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Photo of RyanK252
3.77/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours deep ruby brown with a frothy khaki brown head that settles and laces lightly.

S: Roasted malt, toffee sweetness, and dark fruit.

T: Roasted malt, a hint of coffee, dark fruit, cherry and plumb, earthy hops, and toffee sweetness.

M: Light to medium body, moderate carbonation.

O: Pretty drinkable, but nothing super special.

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Piper Down Scottish Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.