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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

77 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 77
Reviews: 46
rAvg: 3.54
pDev: 16.95%
Wants: 3
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 77 | Reviews: 46 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BigGruntyThirst
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%

BigGruntyThirst, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of DarkForest
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

DarkForest, Apr 04, 2013
Photo of Molson2000
4.25/5  rDev +20.1%

Molson2000, Feb 28, 2013
Photo of decimator
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle poured into a pint glass. ABV 6.2%.

A - Pours a dark cola brown but if exposed to light the colour is dark red. 1cm cream head reduced to a bubbly ring. Minimal lacing.

S - Smoke, roasted grains, earth. Not as smoky as a typical Rauchbier though.

T - Roasted grains, some caramel, some smoke, hint of bacon, mild tea notes in the finish. The smokiness isn't as present as in the aroma.

M - Medium-heavy carbonation, medium-heavy body, some creaminess, thinning finish.

O - A bit one dimensional but it is certainly drinkable.

decimator, Feb 23, 2013
Photo of Kremlock
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A: Pours a deep brown with hues or red in it. Pours a 1/4 inch head that then settles to a thin film around the glass.

S: Peaty, smokey with hints of dates.

T: Peaty with a slight meaty taste to it. Some dates present, light maltyness present through the peat smoke.

M: Thin, watery. A bit of puckering on the tongue.

O. Lack of maltiness and thin watery body does not make it appealing.

Kremlock, Feb 22, 2013
Photo of polloenfuego
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%

polloenfuego, Feb 16, 2013
Photo of DaPan
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%

DaPan, Feb 13, 2013
Photo of ThinkAgain
1.75/5  rDev -50.6%

ThinkAgain, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of funkengruven
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This is an interesting beer. It poured a dark brown with a bit of tan head that subsided quickly. Smell is sweet and smoky, rather nice. Flavor is very rich and full, sweet, malty and smoky, reminiscent of a peat smoked scotch whisky. Mouthfeel is smooth but a bit boozy.

This is unique but definitely pretty good. Worth a try.

funkengruven, Jan 26, 2013
Photo of mick303
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle, 6.2% couldn't find a freshness date. Poured into a wine glass, colour is pretty much black dark brown, head recedes really quickly, leaving a slight film and a trace of lacing.

Smell is strongly suggestive of smoky and ash notes. Charred barley malt. Bonfires, maybe a trace of smoky dark fruit underneath. Burnt chestnuts. So earthy hoppiness but it is pretty buried. Together its pretty unique, a bit dominated.

Taste as expected has a bit smoky impact but it is far from being one-dimensional. A bit coastal and briny, with seashore fires, fishnets and a bit of lightness to it. Some of the char aspect but some really unique other flavours going on, with a slight sweetness also. Bitterness is pretty mild, lots of (heavy) roast malt profile. Finish is pleasantly smoky

Mouthfeel is moderate, heavily toasty, slick and smoky, a bit thin with a light carbonation. It does drink pretty well and could be considered refreshing despite its somewhat intense flavour. Really nice. Alcohol doesn't really come through.

I had heard this was a love-or-hate-it beer. I was pleasantly surprised. Smoked a nice amount to give it definite character, and would make a nice food paring, but not so much as to ruin the beer for my palate. Quite a cool flavour interplay, could use a bit more body, and maybe a bit dominated by the peat and char, but otherwise worth checking out.

mick303, Jan 18, 2013
Photo of FirstBrewsoon
3/5  rDev -15.3%

FirstBrewsoon, Jan 05, 2013
Photo of thehyperduck
4.08/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

thehyperduck, Dec 30, 2012
Photo of Mama-Kail
1/5  rDev -71.8%

Mama-Kail, Dec 24, 2012
Photo of WeissBoy
3/5  rDev -15.3%

WeissBoy, Dec 11, 2012
Photo of EgadBananas
3.83/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cattersley! He was wounded, but not dead!

Pours a dark brown with ruby edges. Given the circumstances, the slight ring of head and bubbles are beautiful! The aroma is meaty, smoky, and rich with caramel. Taste is sweet, somewhat nutty, smoky and with a mild bacon not. Not as robust as the aroma. Good feel overall.

Enjoyed this...love me a meaty, bacon smoked beer!

EgadBananas, Dec 07, 2012
Photo of beerhunter13
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%

beerhunter13, Nov 24, 2012
Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer looks smoked alright, but not charred. Despite the blackish colour a surprising amount of clarity is afforded; I'd liken it more to a shadow than a piece of onyx. It is underlined by sleek, polished brown highlighting. Its head is tinted the shade of dirty snow and, accordingly, melts all away.

The aroma smells less of actual smoke than it does smoldering pellets of hickory and mesquite wood; it's less the smell of a smoke-house than that of a kitchen with a wood-burning stove. Despite the first impressions of hickory and mesquite, the beer is far from 'Southwest' in style - it uses peat smoked malt after all and if the bouquet is to be placed anywhere in the world it's undoubtedly Scotland.

Besides that, roasted chocolate malt and hints of kettle caramelization lie just beneath the surface. The flavour, similar to the bouquet, is grounded in a tarry, roasted and rather heavy maltiness that is somewhat coffee-ish in character and has bold notes of carob. There is also a prominent amount of cured meat flavour (probably owing to the impression of hickory); it might deceive you into thinking it was brewed in a deli.

The smoky character is best described as 'smoldering' (a slow burning smoke with no flame - ironic, since peat burns quite fast). It doesn't seem like the result of a forest fire nor does it reek extensively of bacon. If anything, it's closest to a single malt scotch like Talisker or Laphroaig. It compromises not a single ounce of smoke and yet comes across a bit more approachable (and a bit less intimidating) than a bona fide rauchbier.

It's about damn time Church Key bottled Holy Smoke! I've enjoyed the beer for years on-tap but it'll be far more convenient now to keep my own stash at home (especially as this pairs so well, as one might imagine, with barbecued meats). The beer's peat-y scotch qualities make it an excellent candidate for slow sipping, although it is quenching enough to gulp right down. Either way, it's always greatly enjoyed.

biegaman, Nov 23, 2012
Photo of cfalovo97
2/5  rDev -43.5%

cfalovo97, Nov 06, 2012
Photo of KrisDLSmith
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

KrisDLSmith, Oct 12, 2012
Photo of MattPS
4/5  rDev +13%

MattPS, Aug 26, 2012
Photo of Wordslinger
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Wordslinger, May 05, 2012
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Volo.

Poured into a nonic. Dark brown-ruby, left a fairly sturdy head with a thin ring surviving the first few minutes.

Nose is dark malt, bread, smoke, a bit of meat and dark fruit.

Nice little smoked beer, good character to it. Smokey, but not oppressively so, as the brew has some decent malt character, caramel, chocolate and fruit to it as well. Very tasty.

Thinner bodied, slightly harsh carbonation.

Decent smoked brew, nice find on tap. Would be fun to BBQ with.

JohnnyBarman, Mar 27, 2012
Photo of liamt07
3.85/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draught at WVRST, into a pint glass. Scotch ale made with smoked peat. Alcohol on this was higher than listed here, around 6.3% I believe.

Dark red/burgundy, with clarity around the edges. Bubbles serve as a very transient head, but ultimately, nothing retains and only shreds of lacing. Nose has chocolate, light peatiness and strong dark caramel notes. Taste has smoked wood, peat and a bit of burnt plastic, but this subsides as the glass warms. More chocolate and rich caramel notes. Malty scotch ale character comes through in the finish. Medium body, low carbonation and a nice pairing with my Boerewors. Easily consumed and I would hit this up again.

liamt07, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of kelvarnsen
3/5  rDev -15.3%

kelvarnsen, Jan 03, 2012
Photo of tbeckett
3.85/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'll go ahead and say I don't typically like smokey beers but the sample got me interested. Pint at Black Tomato. From notes.

A - Poured black with a one finger eggshell head. Some carbonation coming up the side. Small lace chunks left over with an island of filmy retention.

S - Really strong malt, some roasty notes are mild, dark fruit is prevalent, chocolate and smoke too.

T - Roasty with smoke that isn't overpowering. Some chocolate, dark fruit, and bacon in the finish.

M - Nice carbonation, medium body, a little dry in the finish with lingering smokiness.

O/D - What I want from something smoked. I don't want that to be the only element. Smokey enough to make it interesting. Good.

tbeckett, Dec 17, 2011
Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale from Church-Key Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 77 ratings.