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

Not Rated.
McEwan's No.1 ChampionMcEwan's No.1 Champion

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

59 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 59
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 13.48%
Wants: 1
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
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: 59 | Reviews: 36 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WGO
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%

Photo of kmacphail
4.45/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

Photo of utfiero
4.44/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color- rich Spanish oak brown. Medium head.

Aroma- mild hops, caramel, roasted malt, hint of Christmas cake. An excellent strong Scotch ale! Starts with a mild roastiness, moves quickly to Christmas cake, raisins, and spices, finishing with a linger cake, fruit, and coffee roastiness. Beautiful experience. Poured from 500 ml bottle into a small drinking glass while in Huntly, Scotland. Procured from a local store in Huntly.

As a side note, the photo posted is out of date (or perhaps for export bottles).

Mfg website www.mcewans.co.uk

Photo of seanyfo
4.4/5  rDev +18.6%
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!

Photo of AEK
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
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!!

Photo of ivanwatling
4.33/5  rDev +16.7%
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.

Photo of avylover
4.28/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a lighter shade of clear mahogony. Had this in the U.K. very nice creamy & malty aroma,which goes right along with the caramel & ever so slightly fruity taste,. Nice carbonation creates a nice full and creamy mouthfeel with nice drinkability. The sweet caramel maltiness flows across my tongue all the way home. This almost heads into barleywine teritory, at least with the sweet maltiness. Most excellent, and a must for a malt monster wanting a strong ale. Once again, a very drinkable strong ale.

Photo of MEP
4.25/5  rDev +14.6%

Photo of dartfulavenger
4.25/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

Photo of MikeKSmith
4.25/5  rDev +14.6%

Photo of JohnW
4.22/5  rDev +13.7%
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

Photo of wl0307
4.15/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

BB 31 AUG 2006. Served cool in a goblet.

A: dark mahogany hue; a tight, creamy+frothy pale-beige head comes with good retention, leaving even sheets of lacing~~
S: deeply toffee-ish and creamy malts come in full force... along with malt-syrup, molasses, caramel, preserved dark fruits (like plums), light licorice, and more cream to follow... It's so creamy rich and round, a bit like thick, strong Belgian dark ale without the yeasty and exotic fruity edge.
T: thickly-textured lightly-sugary and toasted maltiness prevails upfront, gradually settling to a bed of rich semi-sweet dark fruits; the mouthfeel undergoes a slow transformation, into a lightly spicy/"stimulating" touch of licorice on top of a magnifying herbal+woody bitter aftertaste... that creeps into every corner deep down the palate and lingers for a great long time. The creamy malty overtone supports the ever-evolving flavour profile, making the experience of this beer a vertical, or "3D", one.
M&D: ultra-soft and creamy on the mouthfeel while the spiciness provides a constant stimulation as does the lingering bitterness. This beer, being as strong as 7.3%abv., is very successful in hiding its alc. under the guise of great smoothness and creamy texture. Very satisfying for a late-night digestif or a winter warmer~~

Photo of coltsr2
4.08/5  rDev +10%
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!...

Photo of mjgarrett2
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
4/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of jhm
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of hunteraw
4/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of SimonTHGolfer
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of abeeronthebeach
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of mdagnew
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle bought from Tesco

Poured a dark mahogany red / brown colour... Slightly off white head poured quite thick and foamy and faded to nice layer...

Aroma - Sweet caramel / bready maltiness with light toasted notes, treacle, dark fruits (raisins, dates), lemony sharpness...

Taste – Quite sweet toasted maltiness, fairly strong hop bitterness, raisins, coffee, brown sugar...

Feel - Quite smooth and slightly oily.. Medium / full bodied. Pretty drinkable..

Overall - A pretty good beer....Well worth a try...

Photo of Absumaster
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Photo of GreenCard
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: dark brown, great clarity, nice spongey layer of tan foam with good retention, lace

Aroma: syrupy sweetness, dark honey, hint of smoke, hazelnuts, hint of chocolate, roast alcohol

Flavor: initially quite sweet with a rounded malt backbone, then a twinge of roast starts the counterpoint while peppery alcohol comes in; licorice, toast, a bit woody; balances out nicely with a somewhat sharp bitterness on the back of my tongue, just before it finishes semi-sweet with an aftertaste of brown sugar and a lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel: full body, smooth/silky texture, mild carbonation

Other comments: "No. 1 Champion" is not an overstatement since, of the McEwan's beers I've tried, this is the best by far. But because of the richness, a full pint of this stuff is a lot for one sitting. Not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy it!

Photo of AgentMunky
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Photo of Sammy
3.93/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

Photo of bark
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The colour is dark copper with a tint of brown. The pale beige foam is thick, firm and three fingers high.

The smell is generous with sweet flavours of diacetyl, nuts, dark rye bread, nuts and a somewhat smoky touch.

The carbonation is soft and pleasant.

The taste is quite complex with notes of rye bread, smoked ham, diacetyl, treacle, cream and a gentle bitterness. The taste develops into an almost sherry-like taste of sweetness and alcohol with a hint of salt.

The only drawback to this fine ale is its alcoholic strength – I got pretty tipsy after 500 ml of this 7.5% brew.

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McEwan's No.1 Champion from The Caledonian Brewery Company Limited
84 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.