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McEwan's No.1 Champion - The Caledonian Brewery Company Limited

McEwan's No.1 ChampionMcEwan's No.1 Champion

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

49 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 49
Reviews: 33
rAvg: 3.73
pDev: 13.67%

Brewed by:
The Caledonian Brewery Company Limited visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  7.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: bditty187 on 08-24-2003)
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Ratings: 49 | Reviews: 33 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of mick303

Ontario (Canada)

3.1/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a really large creamy off-white head. Colour is a dark ruddy brown. Shows nice retention and pretty good lacing.

Smell has a pleasant earthy roastiness, burnt sugar, cooked apples, a light earthy spice, some pleasant hop bitterness. A bit candy-like but also warming, not especially deep though.

Taste has a surge of coffee roastiness, then some burnt roasty character, bitter cocoa powder, coffee bean, heavy malt. A lot of residual sugar sweetness comes through in the mid-point, almost bubblegum like. Finishes dry, earthy, with spice and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is big, quite roasty and malty with quite a bit of boozy alcohol toward the end, moderate carbonation. Why am I left feeling like someone poured vodka into this beer?, more alcohol astringency on finish, dry bitterness.

The alcohol phenols on the finish seem a bit offensive and this suffers from balance issues in places. I did think the flavour was quite good at points, but it never seemed to balance and join together. It became hard to drink honestly, with the high strength they might have bitten off more than they can chew. The last time I had this I remember it being better, so much raw alcohol coming through. This is really bad on the end as it warms, no complexity and tastes increasingly like discount vodka, avoid.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2013 18:34:12 | More by mick303
Photo of coltsr2

United Kingdom (England)

4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark chestnut brown with a cream-coloured half inch head...aroma wise it was pure malt surrounded by sweet chestnuts and sultanas....
On the first taste its soon apparent that this is a quite a sweet and strong-ish, warming ale, mildly carbonated and full bodied, with toffee, fudge and caramel notes launching at you!....the lack of initial hopped bitterness to calm the sweetness down seems a bit odd at first, but then it eventually makes its slow appearance under all that sweet caramelised toffee apple exterior, subtle and subdued..but enough to make the overall experience a pleasant one...i find this beer a nice easy to drink sweet and strong ale, ideal for those cold winter nights in...and at 4 bottles for only £5 at my local asda its a real bargain too!...

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2013 21:23:26 | More by coltsr2
Photo of BeerGogglesReviews

1.73/5  rDev -53.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

Full bodied could describe Jordan's Physique, Basil Brush's brush or even this beer. This syrupy sticky sicky substance has all the subtlety of a drunken Mike Tyson on the pull. Mix some liquorice, and antifreeze together and you've got an idea of how this tastes. 'Champion!' Of what?!? A fairground prize-fighting brawl maybe.
Drink it if you wanna get drunker after a greasy Saturday night kebab or if you measure a beers quality by its ABV. If it were cheaper, painters would love it.
B G Score 08/100

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2012 23:57:43 | More by BeerGogglesReviews
Photo of Dave1999

North Carolina

3.55/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very dark brownish red with a huge head which left a lot of lacing.

Smells of malts not much else.

Tastes of coffee and sweet malts,a bit of caramel and toffee even a little alcohol.

Feels smooth very little carbonation, quite thick.

This is an OK beer, the abv is much higher than most scottish ales I've tried so far. It tastes decent but not great. The Innes and Gunn scottish ale was better.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2012 22:26:44 | More by Dave1999
Photo of flyingpig

United Kingdom (Scotland)

2.8/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Very dark mahogany brown colour with a tanned brownish white head that is quite foamy. Retention is good with some lacing too.

Sweet smelling but with a very strong background alcohol smell that comes from the beer. There is an initial sweet toffee and caramel aroma that the drink gives off which is very sweet. As mentioned the alcohol smell sits in the background and is accompanied by a quite rich, sugary one that has hints of roasted malts.

Lots of roasted malts and barely in the flavour with some good dark fruits in the mix as well, although they are not a pronounced. The middle is a caramel flavoured one that is quite nice too & this is quickly followed up by a warm & creamy bitterness that is nice without being too strong.

Medium, almost heavy beer that is quite smooth & has medium carbonation.

Definitely too much alcohol coming from both the aroma & the taste make this a difficult beer to enjoy fully.

1001 Beers to Try List:

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2011 23:58:10 | More by flyingpig
Photo of jazzyjeff13

United Kingdom (England)

4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml bottle with a BB date of Oct 2011. Label describes it as an award-winning ale.

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A dark reddish-brown colour with medium carbonation visible when held up to the light. Large off-white head with a creamy texture that holds up well. The aroma is quite something - rich dark malts with lots of sweet fruity notes; raisins, plums and stewed fruit as well as a hint of caramel. Overtones of alcohol. Complex.

A powerful taste; sweet dark malt with a bitter finish. Notes of fruit and some roasted flavours. A warming sensation from the alcohol. Sweet on the tongue as you swallow, followed by a lingering malty bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and syrupy - it feels good for the style.

An impressive ale with a big flavour, though probably not everyone's cup of tea. The first time I tried this it conjured memories of throwing up after drinking too much...but my palate has since matured ;)
I'm not sure how this stacks up to other strong Scottish ales, but it's worth seeking out to try.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2011 02:38:41 | More by jazzyjeff13
Photo of ivanwatling

United Kingdom (England)

4.33/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: brown colour, no head. I like a creamy head so this only receives an 'average' score.

Smell: Beautifuly sweet and rich.

Taste: Powerfull, rich. Balance between thick sweetness and sharp bitterness, pehaps just learning towards bitter.

Mouthfeel: Pleasant lingering aftertaste, perfect carbonation balance.

Drinkability: Far too strong to have more than one bottle, would probably be too rich anyway. But one bottle is a warming, comforting experience.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2010 18:01:37 | More by ivanwatling
Photo of AgentMunky


3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

A: Nice half-finger of creamy head. The rich mahogany-coloured beer is clear, but so dark as to obscure vision through it.
Good lacing.

S: Malty, with some barley gain, a bit of fruit (apple? raisin?), and a touch of toffee.

T: Nice, strong tastes of malt and caramel. One user suggested black treacle; I concur. The taste is rich, sweet, and a tad alcoholic. The end taste is warming and figgy. Aftertaste is slightly bitter, which was a surprise (but not an unpleasant one). Very interesting, well-rounded beer.

M: A little boring, but nothing to complain about. A bit dry.

D: A very nice beer indeed! Heavy, filling, warming, and, above all, satisfying. I will buy it again; recommended.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2010 18:12:33 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of Zimbo

United Kingdom (Scotland)

3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The most commonly found 'wee heavy' in Scotland and made in the Caledonian brewery in Edinburgh. I haven't had this since the switch until now.

The delicate dense but fluffy heavy head formed pretty easily. In the mouth there is now a more dominant almost black treacle quality which is rich and more complex than it once was. Seems more rounded as well with some vinous qualities almost like Caledonian 80 but bigger.

Drank this chilled but as it warmed up it became much more raw and overwelmingly boozy and confected . Still a bit simple to be honest.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2010 18:27:50 | More by Zimbo
Photo of AEK

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.35/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml brown bottle poured into a Gordon's Thistle glass.

A. Autumnal red in colour. A nice thick lightly tanned bubbly head sits above and it doesn't say 'goodbye' too soon.

S. Vine fruit and brandyish notes dominate the nose.

T. Lovely and bitter although some malt sweetness emerges. Rich with hints of port, the alcoholic warmth soon bites.

M. Smooth and almost heavy.

D. A delicious strong ale from Scotland. Strange how this is Gordon's Scotch Ale that is brewed for the Belgian market but the %ABV has been lowered from the 8.5% ABV for Belgium to 7.3% for the British market. Although the alcohol content has been lowered it is still a warming beer, great for sipping on a cold evening as it is today even though it is almost June!!

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2010 14:33:23 | More by AEK
Photo of mjgarrett2


4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Deep, dark mahogany with almost no light permeating the glass. An almost ruby/violet hue like the color of red grapes.

S-Tart fruits, maybe fig or apricot. Bit of raisin as well almost like fortified wines.

T-Slightly sour grape/raisin bolstered by sweet roasted malts and some bitterness. Really does tread between a malty scottish ale and a rich port.

M-Dry and robust. It avoids being too sweet through the depth of the fruity characteristics rather than the sugar content.

D-Good on it's own but it seems to fill a role, like port, as an after dinner drink or something I would want with an appetizer spread or a cheese course.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2010 21:02:16 | More by mjgarrett2
Photo of seanyfo

United Kingdom (Scotland)

4.4/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

50cl bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

A- dark mahogany with ruby notes in body. A 3 finger creamy head that produces excellent creamy lacing considering abv. Very good retention

S- metallic note, with lots of caramel/toffee malts. No real hop profile to speak of.

T- Syrupy caramel sweet malts in the beginning which is nicely balanced with a subdued hop bite in the finish. Finish is very smooth/creamy. Abv very well hidden.

M- Creamy, full bodied, medium carbonation.

D- Dangerously moreish. Very drinkable, i like my big malty beers and this was no exception. A fantastic malty smooth experience with a delicate hop bite in the finish preventing it from being too sweet/syrupy. Delicious!

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2010 22:43:07 | More by seanyfo
Photo of BDTyre

British Columbia (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Not bad, but way too sweet for me. Rich brown-ruby colour. The head is slightly off-white, thick and creamy. It takes a long time to settle down and even then big, fluffy chunks float around in it.

Very sweet, rich and sugary scent. It almost smells like this has syrup added to it. Slight fruit presence to it, but the predominant smell is syrup and sugar.

This is reflected in the taste too - very syrupy, and it comes off almost like molasses at times. Other than some very faint sweet fruit hints, there is almost no suggestion of hops.

Decent mouthfeel, but this is a little too sweet and the alcohol really shines in this.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2010 00:24:45 | More by BDTyre
Photo of benclimbs


3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a brown red with small white head and sticky lacing.

smell is a nice sweet nutella chocolate/hazlenut along with a tad bit of dry hop.

Taste tarts dull, but then goes to bitter chocolate, and a sweet, slightly sticky feeling finish.

Drinkable and solid scotch ale, a good beer but nothing spectacular or very remarkable...definitely a fine drinker though.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2009 13:29:54 | More by benclimbs
Photo of thepeter

United Kingdom (England)

3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Dark Mahogany brown, with a creamy head and fantastic lacing.

S - Roasted malts dominates with dark fruits not far behind. Mildly sweet smell of molasses and brown bread after I swirl the beer in my glass a bit.

T - Dark roasted malt, And Tons of it! Dry, yeasty brown bread with a hint of metal. I got a small amount of herbal woody hop bitterness on the back end.

M&D - Smooth with a medium carbonation, goes down quite easily. Nice drinking beer but one is enough.

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2009 15:58:50 | More by thepeter
Photo of fullsweep

United Kingdom (England)

3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 mL poured into a glass.

I was given this by a friend, and due to the 7.3 ABV, was waiting for the right setting to enjoy it. Tonight was it.

Pours really great with a very thick head, 3 finger or more. A dark brown color, but not quite stout-colored. Really attractive brew.

Aroma was nice as well. Lots of grain in the scent, more than I expected.

Taste is very sweet. Carmelized malts (due to the extra fermentation process?) with a bitter finish. I think this might have been slightly nicer at a slightly warmer temperature.

Sits nice on the palette and is nice going down.

Definitely a drinkable brew, but it's not one I'd want all the time for 2 reasons: the sweetness is a bit overpowering, and the ABV is too high for a regular drink in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2009 00:53:14 | More by fullsweep
Photo of dartfulavenger

United Kingdom (England)

4.25/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a truly remarkable beer especially considering that it's from a large commercial brewery. Its rich taste stands out above all. It has a slightly sweet and nutty taste with loads of caramel chocolate malting and a unusual but refreshing hoppy bite (almost overpowering like an IPA). It's well priced too (at least in English supermarkets). It has a very impressive gravity too. I would love the opportunity to sample this on cask.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2009 18:47:54 | More by dartfulavenger
Photo of Absumaster


3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A clear, brown beer with a 1 inch head that is creamy and fine-bubbled.

Smell of diacetyl, pretty heavy but on the spot for a Scottish ale. A big caramel malt base and a spicy and herbal bottom layer. Appears to be piney.

Taste is sweet with clear notes of diacetyl. A lot of malt covered with caramel malt. Some hints of smoke and caramelization. The mouthfeel is sticky and leaves a layer of sweet caramalt in my mouth. The spices are just detectable, they add a spicy, herbal and a little medicinal taste.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2008 08:27:55 | More by Absumaster
Photo of hunteraw


4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wasn't expecting this to be a scotch ale when I bought it. Not my favorite style, but we'll give it a go.

Appearance: Garnet in color, two finger off-white head with good retention, and lacing.

Smell: warm, hints of vanilla, with some hints of roast malt.

Taste: creamy, some toffee, slight molasses but balanced by hops bitterness. Some dark fruit. Very nice, actually. Not too sweet, which is my usual complaint for this style.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, creamy, good carbonation.

Drinkability: A good beer, by any measure.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2007 17:54:08 | More by hunteraw
Photo of BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

3.43/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brown bottle, 500ml, best before Oct 2007, drank 1st feb 2007.

Poured into a straight pint sleeve glass.

Dark, very dark, where is my 'Deep Purple' collection, I can't remember, most likely in the attic. Off white head soon disappears to leave a wispy covering on the liquid.

Caramel, burnt malts and biscuits (cookies for my American readers) cooked for too long, all come to mind as I sniff out the aroma.

Sweet, creamy and heavy, well it is 7.3%, the burnt malty aroma is in the taste also, but not enough to turn your tastebuds against the beer, a good complexed feel to it really.

Sweetness stays, malts and dark, bitter chocolate, arrive later as the mouth is drying.

This beer grew on me, as I drank it, rich is too strong a word to describe it (although the label does), well off, or comfortable would be better terms to use. Will I have another, yes, but not tonight.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2007 19:51:35 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of kmacphail

United Kingdom (Scotland)

4.45/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This is an unashemedly proud ale from McEwans, Champion written in capitals across the label and No 1 printed on the neck. Is it worth the title?


It poured a lovely dark brown colour with a hint of ruby, a thick off white head settled to leave a thin head that maintained throughout the drink. There is a definate sweet nose to this beer, but not too overpowering as can happen with strong scottish ales. Aromas of malts, burnt caramel and various fruits make the nose very pleasant, can this get any better?

The taste of malts and a definate hint of toffee flows through with a good variety of fruitiness to keep you intrigued for the duration of the pint. The drink flows nicely around the mouth, very good mouthfeel, the way a proper beer should feel. It is almost a shame to swallow this, but the taste is sufficient to make up for this loss.

I scored this low on drinkability purely on the strength, 7.3% is too strong for me to drink all night. However once you have been an innitiate of McEwans Champion Ale you will return for more, a thoroughly excellent beer, why is there not more like this on the market.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2006 21:36:23 | More by kmacphail
Photo of zebedee

United Kingdom (England)

3.58/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a deep ruby, with a thick off white head, which diminished to a nice layer. Plenty of thick lacing left on the glass. The smell was similar to a wine, raisins, prunes, dark, fruity. The initial treacle flavour gave way to a blackcurrant/liquorice combo, with a hint of pepperyness and a lingering bitterness. This felt heavy in the mouth, and had a warming effect due to the alcohol content. In fact, the alcohol was very noticeable, and became a bit too much as the pint diminished, hence the 3. Way too heavy to session on, and a bit sticky, but nice as a one off I'd say. I did struggle to finish it. I don't think I'll be having this again, but I'm glad I tried it.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2006 22:51:36 | More by zebedee
Photo of JohnW

United Kingdom (England)

4.22/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured dark bronze colour, with dense creamy head, that was off white in colour, and lasted well down the glass. Rich sweet aroma, malty, fruity, raisins cinnamon, roasted (but not burnt) caramel very appealing. Initially very sweet, more so than I expected, but not cloying in any way. Very rich without being too heavy, extremely fruity, like plum pudding, roasted malts and barley, hint of licorice and chocolate, very pleasant. Considering its strength of 7.3% it is an easy beer to drink, and very suitable for a cool evening to warm you up! Enjoyed this very much, and I think it's likely it keeps well and matures gracefully, as the bottle had best by date of 2003! I had it at the back of a cupboard and had forgotten all about it! Maybe I should get some more and do the same thing again!

Second tasting some months later - had another bottle with well within use by date (not 2 years past!) and did not seem as smooth or rich, so maybe this is better for keeping in a dark place for two or three years!

John W
B'ham UK August 2006

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2006 20:43:22 | More by JohnW
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Top notch for its style, brought back from London by Mark B. Wonderful wheat though boozy aroma, scotch colour, small white head and significant lace. Great easy mouthful, dry aftertaste with hop leaf. Good malting, understated carbonation. Bit of roasted barley.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2006 23:54:48 | More by Sammy
Photo of arizcards


3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a 500ml bottle at Tesco in Aviemore for 1.55 pounds.

Beer poured a brownish copperish color with a big tan bubbly head that sustained well. Nose was a bit malty and not much else. Taste was heavilly malty, with hints of dark fruits and a light fruity hop finish. Mouthfeel was smooth, almost creamy like. At 7.3, this is about the biggest beer I tried in the UK, this was an extremly interesting beer to be enjoyed one at a time.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2006 00:51:12 | More by arizcards
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McEwan's No.1 Champion from The Caledonian Brewery Company Limited
84 out of 100 based on 49 ratings.