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Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale - Church-Key Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch AleChurch-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

74 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 74
Reviews: 44
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 16.53%
Wants: 2
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Church-Key Brewing Company visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  6.25% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This unique beer was made as a connection with John and his Celtic family heritage. Ne Oublie, is the Graham Clan ancient family motto, indeed all that have tasted Holy Smoke can say that this Beer will never be forgotten. The Graham clan tartan is also used on the packaging. Holy Smoke Scotch Ale is a dark, strong ale that uniquely utilizes Scottish imported peat-smoked whisky malt, it is smooth, rich and malty, dominated by these peat roasted smokey notes.

17-35 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2002)
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Ratings: 74 | Reviews: 44 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by thehyperduck:
Photo of thehyperduck
thehyperduck

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle from the LCBO listed at 6.2%; best before Mar. 6 2013. I've generally heard good things about Church Key, but since I live outside of their distribution range, finding any of their offerings has been a tad troublesome. Grabbing this one while shopping in London was thus a bit of a no-brainer, but the fact that I haven't tried a new smoked beer in the better part of a year also factored into the decision. Poured into a mug.

Pours a brownish cola colour - seemingly opaque at first, but holding it up under the light reveals the liquid's inherent clarity (and some ruby red tinges). Topped with one finger of light beige-coloured head that recedes relatively rapidly, leaving behind a dense collar around the edge, and a thin, wispy film at the surface. The aroma is rich and enticing, with plenty of roasted malts and molasses underlying notes of bacon, glazed ham, peat and hickory smoke, with a faint hint of coffee grinds that is difficult to separate from the rest of the bouquet.

This is tasty stuff, with a wide range of different flavours mingling and (more importantly) complementing each other nicely. Roasted malts, caramel and molasses come through first, followed by some ambiguous hints of dark fruit. A few peaty notes. The smoke is only an ephemeral presence at first, but surges forth in the finish, imparting hints of smoked wood and bacon/pork that linger into the aftertaste. The flavour definitely improves a little as it warms. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, with mild carbonation that gives this brew a smooth, slick mouthfeel. Very drinkable, but more suited to washing down your dinner than sessioning.

Final Grade: 4.08, a solid A-. Church Key's Holy Smoke Scotch Ale is one of the more interesting brews I've had in the last month or so. The smokiness is not as intense or meaty as in genuine rauchbiers, but it's still a constant, distracting presence throughout the flavour profile, which I feel makes this particular brew a perfect introduction to smoked beers for any interested newbies. I enjoyed this bottle on its own, but this is the sort of beer that is really begging to be paired up with (or used in!) some sort of hearty pork/beef dish. All in all, this was a fabulous OCB offering that I wish was available locally! I'll definitely keep an eye out for more stuff from this brewer, and would eagerly encourage others to sample this.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2012 20:44:37 | More by thehyperduck
More User Reviews:
Photo of patre_tim
patre_tim

China

4/5  rDev +12%

07-22-2014 01:46:57 | More by patre_tim
Photo of SebD
SebD

Ontario (Canada)

3.74/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: It has a nice deep mahogany/amber color to it. It has a nice creamy beige head that dies down moderately fast and leaves little lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of toasted malts, chocolate, a bunch of smokiness and some woody notes as well.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some smoky notes, toasted malts, light chocolate, some sweet caramel and faint wood.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by good flavors and aromas.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2014 00:34:13 | More by SebD
Photo of Organdrew
Organdrew

New Brunswick (Canada)

3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I bought a 650ml bottle from the local liquor store. I was a little skeptical about buying this as it is more expensive than other beers and smaller in serving but I figured if it was .ore expensive, it should be good. I was right.

Look: bottle seemed like some sort of weird gothic or cult type symbols. Not really my style but mysterious nonethless. The contents came out just as dark as the bottle.

Smell: was not wowed by the smell. Reminded me of other dark craft beers. Slightly reminded of guiness.

Taste: this is where I really liked it. With very low carbonation and creamy. I prefer medium-high carbonation in my beer but this was okay. Smoke, peat, malt, reminiscent of sausages over a bonfire or barbeque. Almost has a red-wine flair to it, but not a bad thing.

Overall:

Many review say this pairs well with food and I did pair mine with oven grilled sausages, good pair. Some say it's not sessionable but I could drink one maybe two In one session. This is simply not like watered-down lagers you can pound back. A real "man's taste" and bold. This is closely similar to noire de Chambly by Unibroue. It does seem to get overwhelming after a while, but if you like strong drinks and black coffee, this ones for you. It seemed a little flat and I longed for some carbonation, but it was a treat. I would reccommend. Like many say: different but not bad. Simply a specific taste that not many like.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2014 01:11:48 | More by Organdrew
Photo of DreamDeath
DreamDeath

New Brunswick (Canada)

3/5  rDev -16%

05-18-2014 07:55:49 | More by DreamDeath
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chickenm

British Columbia (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +19%

05-04-2014 21:30:10 | More by chickenm
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CurtisD

New Brunswick (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -9%

04-25-2014 17:41:15 | More by CurtisD
Photo of BuckyBeerBeaver
BuckyBeerBeaver

Ontario (Canada)

3.1/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Founded in 2000, Church-Key Brewing is located in an 1878 Methodist Church on the outskirts of Campbellford, Ontario. The only microbrewery in Northumberland County, Church-Key features a variety of award-winning hand-crafted ales including its flagship Northumberland Ale and today's beer, Holy Smoke Scotch Ale ("HSSA"). All of Church-Key's ales are made in small batches from four ingredients: malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Open daily from 10am until dark, the brewery's web site says that visitors are always welcome to take a guided tour of the facility, with samples available in their tasting room afterward.

Despite the first scotch he tried many years ago, which tasted like falling face down into a peat bog with his mouth open, Bucky resolved to try a bottle of HSSA from his favourite LBCO store. HSSA came in a brown 650 ml bottle with a "best before"date of Jan. 3, 2013, and was 6.2% alcohol by volume. HSSA sells for $5.95 per bottle.

The beer poured a dark brown colour with a ruby core when backlit, with 1/4" of tan coloured head that faded to a thin ring of foam and patchy film within two minutes, leaving some minor spotting and lacing down the glass. Its aroma was dominated by smoked peat, which was not overpowering at first, but as the beer warmed this aroma become stronger and began to remind me of burning rubber. Fortunately, HSSA never developed a burnt rubber taste; smoked peat, dark malts, and a certain sweetness were evident though. A smoky peat aftertaste lingered for a few seconds after swallowing the beer. The carbonation was fairly active and well suited to the brew, and I would describe the beer as medium bodied.I believe that a 650 ml bottle of HSSA is best shared, and paired with something like a beef or pork dish, and may even go well with some cheeses. I found two glasses to be a bit of a struggle though, due entirely to the burning rubber smell that developed as I made my way down the bottle.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2014 01:53:51 | More by BuckyBeerBeaver
Photo of slitherySOB
slitherySOB

Ontario (Canada)

3.91/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Got this at the LCBO, and since it mentioned my Scottish family heritage, the Graham clan, I had to pick it up. This beer pours a dark brown colour with a two finger head that dissipates into nothing. Was not that impressed. Smells a bit like a decent scotch. Nice peat moss, toasted malts, bit of chocolate, slight hint of coffee, and a light hint of smoke. Taste is lovely. Sweet toasty malts up front, with a bit of caramel and chocolate. Ends with bitter chocolate, coffee and that hint of smokiness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation, smooth and refreshing. I like it, and will be picking it up again, as well as any other offerings I see from this brewery.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2014 15:19:38 | More by slitherySOB
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RyanPollock

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +12%

02-18-2014 01:31:57 | More by RyanPollock
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byronic

Ontario (Canada)

3/5  rDev -16%

01-21-2014 18:05:07 | More by byronic
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Cramshawbar

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +12%

11-18-2013 03:06:15 | More by Cramshawbar
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bigox420

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +12%

11-10-2013 19:21:54 | More by bigox420
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Ivanhoes_Backpack

New Brunswick (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -9%

10-18-2013 14:25:26 | More by Ivanhoes_Backpack
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RedAleMan

Ontario (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -2%

10-13-2013 01:54:14 | More by RedAleMan
Photo of Jeffo
Jeffo

Netherlands

3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one at the LCBO in Waterloo.

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, off-white or light tan head with decent retention. Quickly fades to a splotchy wisp and ring. Clear dark brown body and modest levels of carbonation. Splotchy wisp remains but leaves no real lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Some peat notes, leather and light chocolate on the nose. Toasted grains, brown and chocolate malts and lightly smoky as well. Not nearly as smoke dominate as I'd feared, but actually well balanced and nuanced.

TASTE: Brown and caramel malt sweetness up front, with light notes of peated malts and leather at the swallow. Mild but lingering of smoked malts, some caramel sweetness, bitter chocolate and peat flavors. Pretty well integrated and well balanced.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. A touch light on the palate, creamy, goes down smooth and finishes a touch dry. Good feel.

OVERALL: This was actually quite good. A solid smoke beer for sure. Well balanced and quite interesting and complex as well. Glad to have tried it. Not something I'll have to rush out for again, but easy to drink and definitely something for fans of the style. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2013 19:16:12 | More by Jeffo
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WillAndSarah

Ontario (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +5%

09-04-2013 23:56:37 | More by WillAndSarah
Photo of IdeaSpeeder
IdeaSpeeder

Ontario (Canada)

3.89/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving Type - 650ml bottle poured into a snifter

Appearance - Pours a dark brown colour, almost black...slightly darker than a cola. On top sits roughly two fingers of light brown/caramel coloured head which fades almost immediately.

Smell - Smoke, smoke and more smoke. Some peat and wood in there as well. Sort of reminds me of peat-heavy scotch.

Taste - Lot's of smoke and peat here as well. Actually thats almost all I'm getting here. Underneath all that smoke there's a surprisingly sweet...like toffee and caramel. It's everything you would want in a smoked beer (namely a whooole lot-a smoke). That said, if you're looking for a more balanced, session-able pint, this probably isn't for you

Mouthfeel - Extremely low carbonation. The body is quite light. The bubbles combined with the texture of the beer is reminiscent of coal...in a good way.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2013 05:13:03 | More by IdeaSpeeder
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Vyronian

Ontario (Canada)

4.75/5  rDev +33.1%

08-17-2013 14:00:47 | More by Vyronian
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nullbort

Ontario (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -2%

07-19-2013 00:24:20 | More by nullbort
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Long813

Ontario (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -2%

05-17-2013 01:47:14 | More by Long813
Photo of FondueVoodoo
FondueVoodoo

British Columbia (Canada)

3.56/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to Cattersley for this trade.

A: First to note - sharp white graphic on the bottle is striking and sophisticated. the ale poured a deep black brown and glows a deep garnet when held to the light. Capped off with a finger of velvety head - it settles to a solid ring around the glass.

S: Solid smoky peat, wet wood and wet hay, deeply earthy and reminiscent of a old animal barn.

T: Reflects the smell to a T - Peaty smoke with plenty of wet wood and that barnyard funkiness. Very powerful smokiness that somewhat overshadows some of the other scotch ale notes, but as the palette adjusts to the smokiness notes caramel and dark toffee notes shine through.

M: Very subtle buzz of carbonation that supports the peaky smoke. A medium mouth feel that holds in the mouth.

O: A powerful smoky offering that pulls no punches - it's unabashedly forward in the smoky smell and taste and offers a deeply earthy and barnyard profile. It may be somewhat one sided, but does so boldly without attempting to be something it isn't.
Would be terrific with jerk chicken or bar-b-que steak, as a side dish.

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2013 02:44:40 | More by FondueVoodoo
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timiskin

Ontario (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -9%

04-11-2013 16:55:08 | More by timiskin
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BigGruntyThirst

Ontario (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +5%

04-06-2013 00:36:35 | More by BigGruntyThirst
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DarkForest

Ontario (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -2%

04-04-2013 02:08:20 | More by DarkForest
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Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale from Church-Key Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 74 ratings.