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

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Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch AleChurch-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale

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78 Ratings
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Ratings: 78
Reviews: 46
rAvg: 3.55
pDev: 16.62%
Wants: 2
Gots: 3 | 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: 78 | Reviews: 46 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Eastshoreboy
3.71/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of Wajohnst
3.6/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of Tilly
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

Nothing pretentious about this beer. Nice tab head, toasted malts, earthy aroma. The flavor doesn't fall to far from the aroma bit has done nuttiness. Definetly smoke with a single malt finish. Gets me right in the back of the tongue!

Photo of Mr_Hoptimistic
2.5/5  rDev -29.6%

Photo of patre_tim
4/5  rDev +12.7%

Photo of SebD
3.74/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Photo of Organdrew
3.7/5  rDev +4.2%
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.


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.

Photo of DreamDeath
3/5  rDev -15.5%

Photo of chickenm
4.25/5  rDev +19.7%

Photo of CurtisD
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of BuckyBeerBeaver
3.1/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

Photo of slitherySOB
3.91/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

Photo of RyanPollock
4/5  rDev +12.7%

Photo of byronic
3/5  rDev -15.5%

Photo of Cramshawbar
2.75/5  rDev -22.5%

Way to not know how to make a quality smoked beer. If you want lessons, perhaps it's time to contact Ovisholt Brugghus, whose Lava is so much more superior that it is close to embarrassing.

Photo of bigox420
4/5  rDev +12.7%

Photo of Ivanhoes_Backpack
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of RedAleMan
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of Jeffo
3.48/5  rDev -2%
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.

Photo of WillAndSarah
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of IdeaSpeeder
3.89/5  rDev +9.6%
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 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 a good way.

Photo of Vyronian
4.75/5  rDev +33.8%

Photo of nullbort
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of Long813
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of FondueVoodoo
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.

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Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale from Church-Key Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.