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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 MEP
4.25/5  rDev +14.6%

Photo of jakea
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of Hanglow
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of Dave1999
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

Photo of ltdantheman
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of flyingpig
2.8/5  rDev -24.5%
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:

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 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 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 Zimbo
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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 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 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 BDTyre
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of benclimbs
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

Photo of thepeter
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of fullsweep
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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 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 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 BlackHaddock
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

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 zebedee
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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 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.

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