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Piper Down Scottish Ale - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Piper Down Scottish AlePiper Down Scottish Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

63 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 63
Hads: 281
Avg: 3.62
pDev: 22.65%
Wants: 17
Gots: 70 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-15-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 63 | Hads: 281
Photo of larryarms847
4/5  rDev +10.5%

Pours a light red/amber red with a nice caramel kissed head that dissipates rather quickly.

Candied malts, burnt sugar, caramel, and slightly earthy.

Sweet caramel/burnt sugar on the front with a very muted booziness on the backend. A little bland.

Mouthfeel has less booze than I'd like from my Scottish Ales, but soft and smooth nonetheless.

Overall, this starts off nice in the nose and at first glance, but doesn't really go anywhere. Not overly complex, a little bland, but worth a shot. I love Scottish Ales, but this is just a little meh for my taste.

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Photo of maximum12
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%

Bought for a long-simmering dislike of the asswipe bagpiper who woke us up every Sunday for years at the MN Renaissance Festival at 7:00 AM with his caterwauling. I’ve despised bagpipes ever since, & would have loved to see that “Piper Down”. 22 oz. bomber split with my wife.

Glad I got that off my chest. The pour is a palette of dark orange/light red, kinda purty, plenty of carbonation. The beer fairly reeks of caramel, with a back-up of light brown sugar. Not a bad start.

Piper Down grows on me slower than a black morel. There’s a strong brushstroke of caramel & the aforementioned brown suggah, but underneath that are subtle shadings. Roast, molasses, mild layering of bitterness, rounding it out with more light sweetness. Certainly easy to drink, if I were a Scottish bagpiper, I might never be sober. Assuming, of course, I hadn’t driven screwdrivers into my eardrums already.

Not the awesome-fest I’ve come to expect from Ballast Point, but a good, solid brew.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +10.5%

This has a big malty nose with kettle sugars and a hint of smoke.
It pours a brilliant chestnut under a 1” quickly dissipating off-white foam cap.
Piper Down attacks the palate with rich British malt spiciness, a touch of malty tartness, and some caramel to toffee kettle sugars. A touch of earthy herbal hops balances a light sweetness throughout.
The beer is chewy with medium carbonation and a touch too sweet.

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Photo of titty_mcbitty
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%

A: Burgundy brown with light shining through.

S: Peat and malt.

T: Like the nose: Peat, malt, caramel and toffee, scotch, raisin bread, and brown sugar. Awesome flavor.

M: Right at medium with a lot of carb. It would be slightly better with a fuller mouth feel I think, but then again this is nice and refreshing.

O: I really like this brew. Not sure why the BA score is so low. It has a nice set of flavors and isn't overpowering.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
2.9/5  rDev -19.9%

Beer really needs to warm up before the nose gets released and the flavors show themselves, and by then the mouthfeel is thin, pushing watery. Very soft nose begrudgingly gives up caramel and a hint of peat. Taste is quite muted and muddled, with the caramels darker, almost burnt. Meh.

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Photo of Eddiehop
3.9/5  rDev +7.7%

Pours a deep/dark wood color with a hint of red. Spotty bubbles in the middle of the glass, really limited head to speak of, 1/4 finger or less.

Taste of malt with a few of the darker fruit notes but nothing overpowering. Overall, fairly good drinker. This beer style is not near the top of my list, but I'm a huge fan of Ballast Point. I think its a well done brew.

As another reviewer indicated, its not incredibly complex, but it does have a nice taste.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.71/5  rDev +2.5%

22oz bottle into a standard pint
Notes from 07/11/2014

A: Bright auburn body with a reddish-orange hue and minor hazed look. Thick topper of khaki suds that holds tightly compacted for over a few minutes. Nice trellis work of tracked lacing decorates the glass all the way down the drink.

S: Biscuit malt and toasted bread up front with a light buttery caramel presence. I get some modest raisin or dried fruit type esters there as well. Aromas are pretty straight forward and all about the malts here which is a nice change up for me.

T: Malty biscuit with toasted elements and some fig like fruit segue into a more than expected American type hoppiness. Gives a off a piney note along with some citrus peel and earthy minerals. While the hops may seem somewhat out of place here it works well and the bitterness is kept on the lower end. All in all some nice flavors here with good balance and drinkability as the alcohol is really well disguised.

M: There is a moderate heft of maltiness to the body and the feel is a bit watered down at times. Although a big drying effort towards the finish really saves the overall experience.

D: This is a really nice brew to pick up every now and then. Far from being my favorite amongst the style as it’s not incredibly complex nor does it give you much to think about. It is however well crafted and quite tasty.

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Photo of Zach136
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear sweet tea body, solid lacing.

Aroma: light caramel and melanoidin.

Flavor: Medium intensity roast, caramel, meladnoidin. Lots of assorted earthiness in the background.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

A fine exmaple of

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Photo of samtrillo
3.59/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A slightly translucent purple amber with a cute thin off white head.

Caramel malt nose expected from a Scotch ale. Not too strong but pleasant.

Taste is similar. Lacking in complexity. A nice caramel malt with some bitterness in there.

Mouthfeel is crisp and light. Medium carbonation.

Overall it's a fine example of a Scottish style Ale but nothing I'm crazy about. I prefer Scotch Ales...

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Photo of gatornation
3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A-pours a clear amber color with an off white head a afresh collar
S-sweet malts and fruit
T-sweet on the front end with light floral hops very little malts
M-sweet and thin fruity with good carbonation
O- did not taste like a SA but more like a session red ale

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 12/24/2013. Pours fairly crystal clear reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toast, brown bread, light roast, raisin, plum, apple, herbal, and toast/yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, yeast ester, and light hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light roast, raisin, plum, apple, herbal, and toast/yeast earthiness. Slight earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light roast, raisin, plum, apple, herbal, and toast/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/bready malt, yeast ester, and light hop flavors; with a great malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, crisp, and fairly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with zero warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good Scottish ale style. Good balance and robustness of dark/bready malt, yeast ester, and light hop flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ballast Point's Piper Down, Scottish Ale. 5.8% ABV

A: Just over a finger of head. Nice, clear red tone. Decent lacing.

S: Smells slightly soured. Not fruity sour, but milk gone bad/yogurt sour. Medium molasses. Very light char.

T/MF: Multigrain cereal, and light char. This much lighter than the other Scottish Ale I tried. Moderately crisp, too. Though it doesn't taste it, sharp tingle towards the tip of the tongue is telling me there's some acidity to this.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle served in a wine glass.

Pours with a very durable tan head that leaves some sticky lacing. The body is dark red-brown and clear but almost opaque.

Aroma: very pleasing malt forward with a touch of smoke.

Flavor: Very good flavor if a bit low in intensity. Low in smokiness for style. strength nutty flavor with dark grains and a impression of dark bread. Good, lingering malty aftertaste.

O: a bit tame for style but very enjoyable.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.01/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with no best by date. Its fresh though...summer 2014

A - Ruby red, almost brown. Half a finger of head but no sticky lace

S - Not much aroma, some apple notes and lost of English malts

T - Surprisingly the taste is much better than the aroma.

M - Highly carbonated but medium bodied. Oily and slick. Pleasant aftertaste.

O - I am not a big Scottish Ale fan, but I dig this one. Probably the best Scottish Ale I have had, and I could probably survive being in a UK pub if this one was on draft all night!

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours a clear, deep and beautiful ruby red with a finger's worth of khaki colored head. Good retention, leaving clumps of suds and across the surface and a nice ring around the edge. Lacing is spotty, with little stick.

Smell - Caramel hits first, followed by some earthy and slightly grassy hop bitterness.

Taste - Follows the nose. Caramel flavor off-set by some moderate hop notes that hit on earth, light tea leaf and slight grass bitterness. Finishes much the same it begins. Some vegetal notes come into play as the beer approaches room temp.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with soft carbonation and light creaminess. Goes down quite nicely, though thins in the finish and as it warms.

Overall - A decent, approachable Scottish, though the more I drank, and the warmer it got, the more downhill it went. Suggestion? Don't try to savor it!

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Photo of mscudder
2.87/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in a snifter.

A - Deep ruby hue with a fair head. Below average retention.

S - Light dark fruits, caramel malt and brown sugar.

T - A bland aggregation of amber malts, caramel, prune and light smoke flavor. Everything seems unpronounced.

M - Lively carbonation. Far too thin to support it all.

O - Some qualities of this beer show promise, but it just does not come together for me. Perhaps my least favorite BP brew I've picked up.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Undated bottle at cellar temp into standard pint glass
Aroma of malt, perhaps a hint of peat
Head average (4 cm), rocky, light brown, rapidly diminishing
Few clots of lacing
Body red-copper, clear
Flavor begins and ends sweet with a distinct malt taste; no hops, no alcohol, perhaps a trace of diacetyl.
Palate medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation.

While this meets the criteria for a scotch ale, I’m not sure whether the slight diacetyl flavor and faint peaty are really there, or whether I’m just being hopeful. Unexceptional.

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Photo of lsummers
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep amber that's close to a dark cola color. Smells of some sweet tablet and some brown sugar syrup. Subtle dark fruits and a touch of some roasted caramel malts. Taste has tons of caramel sweetness, with notes close to that of some Scottish tablet. Very light on the tongue and leaves a bit of body behind. Carbonation is a little on the lower side. The smell definitely compliments the subtle roasted malts and dark fruits. Overall, I was really excited to try it and I'm glad I did! It's a solid, very drinkable Scottish style ale that won't leave you feeling overly imbibed or full. If I were in the mood for this style on a summer day, this one might be my first pick. Otherwise, it might not hold up to the body of others in it's style on those cold dark days.

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Photo of oberon
3.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich clear amber with a half finger light tan colored atop that settled into a frothy mass.Aromas are on the sweet side with alot of caramel and brown sugar,light toast lingers.Caramel and vanilla malty flavors dominate the flavor profile from beiginning to end with just a hint of toastiness.Not bad but one of the more one dimensional Scottish ales I have had in its sweetness.

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Photo of robbyc1
3.38/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

The look is a clear, dark amber with an off-white head which leaves some fairly nice lacing.

The aroma is caramely, seems to be bit of sugar and fruit in there.

The taste is slightly sweet, the flavor is solid roasted malt with a deep molasses finish, lacking any smokiness for the style.

The body is still medium heavy, with not overly done carbonation.

Very drinkable beer, a solid starter beer for someone looking to try out Scottish ales.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.55/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Served on-draught into a 4 oz taster at Ballast Point in San Diego. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a half finger beige floater. Body colour is a rich clear copper-amber/chestnut (for extra pretension). No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Caramel, vague hints of oak, and malt. A very restrained aroma.

T: Caramel, amber malts, a hint of oak, and malty sweetness. Simply built. Underwhelming. Lacks complexity and subtlety.

Mf: Smooth. Dry, especially on the finish. Poorly executed; it doesn't suit the flavour profile at all. Decent thickness. Overcarbonated.

Dr: Downable but pedestrian. I wouldn't have it again, but it's not awful for the style. I expect better from Ballast Point.

Low C-

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Photo of Murrhey
3.02/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured on-tap in a taster at Ballast Point in San Diego, Calif. Reviewed from notes.

A- Half a finger white head. Low retention. Some filmy white lacing. Bourbon brown color.

S- Caramel and sugar, malty. Subtle smell.

T- Sugary and malty, caramel and toffee. Not a lot going for it.

M- Smooth and crisp with a wet feel. Not great.

O- Mediocre beer. Unfortunate.

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Photo of charlzm
3.33/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Consumed June 19th, 2012 at Blue Palms.

Dark ruby color with caramel highlights. Nice ring of off-white foam that lasts all the way to the bottom of the glass, though not especially sticky.

Aroma is smoked peat, a melanoidin character and a touch of brown sugar.

Flavor is much like nose. Peaty, smoky, caramel, maybe rye as well? Melanoidiny. Unexpected citric zing in there, too.

Dry on the finish, medium bodied,

Not what I expected form a scotch ale, but not bad.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Haven Gastropub in Pasadena, CA.

Pours a clear dark copper with a khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt and caramel aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild bitterness that quickly fades after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good but straightforward and simple beer.

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Photo of mactrail
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pleasant quaff of peat-scented amber ale. Tastes so much like some kind of malt liquor. Fruity taste of blackberries. Malty and just faintly sweet. Hops are subdued and leave only a bathtub ring of bitterness. More of a winey taste than beery.

Cherry-red amber color in the pint glass. Not a lot of foam. Decently carbonated in the mouth. Fairly light bodied in a more quaffable style of Scottish Ale. Not an outstanding example of the category, but a different sort of smokey amber.

On tap at the Pearl in Point Loma.

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Piper Down Scottish Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 63 ratings.