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Big Rock Traditional Ale - Big Rock Brewery

Not Rated.
Big Rock Traditional AleBig Rock Traditional Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

85 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 85
Hads: 181
Avg: 3.38
pDev: 21.6%
Wants: 4
Gots: 22 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Big Rock Brewery visit their website
Alberta, Canada

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-26-2002

This medium bodied Brown Ale fills your mouth with a fusion of toasty malt and sweet caramel up front finishing with a nutty flavour, medium creamy carbonation and mild hop bitterness.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 85 | Hads: 181
Photo of Tang07
4.33/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In a word, "yum"

I'm in Alberta for five weeks and this will be my beer of choice.

It pours a deep red/copper with a great head. I has a nice crisp and hoppy taste. The smell is hard to determine as I've had most of them in a smokey bars (must everyone smoke up here?).

It has a nice hoppy bite after swollowing.

These have been going down very well. It has body and it is nice and warming. I wish that the ABV were slightly higher, but 5% is OK. (6 would just be better)

It has a great tan and foamy head that lasts for probably 3/4 of the way down, and laces the glass nicely.

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Photo of MAB
4.3/5  rDev +27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the second best beer that they brew (after their McNally's Irish Ale) and is well worth having. I find the flavor to be on the sour side, but that's not a bad thing! The hops are more for bitterness than aroma, but everything is well balanced.
Almost every bar/ restaurant serves this too cold! The flavors really assert themselves as it warms up.
It is readily available in Alberta both in bottles and on-tap; I have heard they are exporting to California, though I'm not sure which styles.

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Photo of Grunewald
4.29/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - poured from a 341ml bottle into a pint glass. The color is a clear copper/orange with a white head that fades to a ring.

S - caramel apples, dates

T - sweet nutty flavors. Watermelon on the tip of the tongue, then a taste of candied apple as it hits the back.

M - lasting medium carbonation

D - I'll need to pick this up again and add a proper appearance note, but as for the other aspects of this beer I was very impressed.

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Photo of crflamesfan
4.24/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a nice smooth beer with light bitters. There are notes of caramel. Not much froth when poured. Clear Amber colour. Overall a very nice beer and will be something I keep on hand at all times.

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Photo of DoctorStrangiato
4.22/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a 341-ml bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance - light amber with a thin 1/8-inch sustaining head. Light carbonation with only modest lacing.

Smell - cidery, hoppy smell over a nice roasted barley. Some sweeter malts detected on further nosings.

Taste - I really like the taste of this beer. Very even, a nice roasted malty flavour with a good nutty taste to follow up. Hoppiness is very light but consistent.

Mouthfeel - fairly even overall without too much carbonation. I do find that most of the other Big Rock beers I've sampled seem overcarbonated.

Drinkability - goes down very easy and is not boring. I can pack several of these away with no issues. Nice to get the nutritional information on the box as well!

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.03/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the first microbrew I ever tasted, way back in the day. It was also my standard as a teenager and in my early college days (I was a beer snob even back then). Better than anything else available at the time. I strayed away over the years, in pursuit of new brews, and feel I have come full circle. It's good to come home, been a while since I sampled a Trad. Now I can fully appreciete it. Pours out a clear reddish-amber tone, decent heat to begin with, but it fades away to a lacy ring in time. Nose is of rich malt, intense hops, wood smoke, a hint of spice, and an even fainter hint of melon. Taste is an impressive balance of malt and hops, one receeding behind the other, nice full mouthfeel, and goes down smooth. The golden standard of Big Rock, it lets you know what real ale should taste like. A perfect session ale, it leaves one satisfied. A close 2nd behind their McNally's Extra Ale for top quality.

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Photo of EagleTalon
4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Greetings from Canada. Pours up to a fizzy buff head and clear light brown color. Aroma is a pleasing blend of toasty, sweet malt and a hint of hops. Flavor is a complex blend of with a toasted malts, caramel, nuts, butterscotch and enough nondescript hops to balance the whole thing out. Mouthfeel is light. Overall, I really liked this beer and would have some on hand at all times if I could. Also noteworthy was that this beer was sampled in Calgary where it was likely just days from the brewery so it was very "fresh" tasting.

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Photo of canucklehead
4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is Big Rock's pale ale and they do it right. A dark gold
colour matched with a solid head starts things off right. The initial
smell is fairly hoppy and appetizing. The taste is full and nicely
balanced with a sweetish finish. You can taste the quality of this
brew and the ingredients that went into its making.

I consider this ale more flavouful than most other Canadian
counterparts. Cheers.

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Photo of CrazyMike
3.95/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown appearance with moderate head. Has a caramel, malty smell. Picked up fruitiness and floral hops.

Has a sweet caramel taste, picked up a taste of nuts and grain as well. Hops are light. Has a suprisingly light body with moderate carbonation. Aftertaste is light and bitter.

Overall this is a drinkable and refreshing beer with some decent characteristics. This is a worthy beer from Big Rock's collection.

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Photo of tonyf55
3.87/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From a bottle into a Big Rock pint glass

Visual (3.5): High clarity dark amber beer with a robust and rolling one to two finger head. The dusty light brown head quickly disappears and leaves a very light lacing on the glass.

Aroma (4): Dominantly malty with breads, grains and toasted smells. An undertone of wood smokeyness sticks in the nostrils after. Surprising.

Taste (4): Sweet malt flavours continue right through with little to no hop bitterness. Passive touches of brown sugar, maple, and almond dryness roll across the tounge. Leaves a sweet, almost chocolate, aftertaste.

Mouthfeel (3): Light and fairly watery with a slight creamy finish on the tounge. Carbonation is almost non-existent, contributing to the creamy finish, and an alcoholic warming lingers at the back of the mouth and throat.

Overall (4): My favorite local brown ale and a flagship beer for Big Rock. Great value for the price having a very enjoyable taste while still bring extremely drinkable.

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Photo of Morgluin
3.87/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Has a translucent dark brown colour. There is one finger of head that fades rather quickly, with almost no lacing.

Smell: Earthy aromas of fruits, nuts and a hint of caramel.

Taste: Upfront, there are well-pronounced flavours of fruits, nuts, caramel, faint hops and a sweet maltiness that all tie together nicely. The finish is pleasant, yet unremarkable, with a lingering aftertaste.

Feel: Light to medium body that possesses a murky smoothness, which is complemented nicely by the low amount of carbonation.

Overall: A very solid if unremarkable English brown ale. I would recommend it.

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Photo of Converge
3.82/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml poured into a 16oz pint glass.

A - Slightly under a finger of beige colored head after an aggressive pour. The ale itself is a maple brown hue with a tinge of orange. Nice foamy cap left on top, and nice lacing left behind.

S - Smells delicious! Tons of bready and caramel malt. A touch of sweetness, but the scent is predominantly a full and robust aroma. Nuts, brown sugar and toffee are definitely present.

T - Very bready and caramel-like upfront. Flavorful malt and slight hoppy finish make it feel quite balanced and enjoyable. Brown sugar is also still noticeable.

M - Excellent mouth-feel. Rather light carbonation with a medium bodied feel to it. Easy and smooth finish.

D - Certainly the most enjoyable Big Rock brew I've come across yet. Simple but flavorful taste and easy to drink.

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Photo of prosper
3.73/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good middle-of-the-road ale. Nothing particularly distinctive, but the overall finished product is pleasant. And it's NOT an APA; being far far more in the vein of a Newcastle and the like.

Served in 20oz Nonic glasses at a local pub.

Very clear. Medium brown in colour. Thin tan head, some lace.

Smells pretty nondescript. Slightly malty, slightly tart. Not much in the way of fruity esters and no hops.

Taste is of a medium-sweet caramel malt, with some faint nutty grainy flavours that takea while to become apparent. No noticeable hop character, and mild hop bitterness. Finishes rather clean.

Mouthfeel is about perfect, I think, for this style. Medium to medium low carbonation and a light-ish body.

It's characterful enough to be interesting, but no so much as to impede drinkability.

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Photo of biegaman
3.73/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at The Iron Goat, in Canmore.

Chestnut is a lovely tone for a beer and, for some inexplicable reason, seems fitting for one labeled 'traditional ale'. Highlights run only skin deep and away from the light the beer can appear, even if momentarily, opaque. Its head, a buttermilk-like lining, is of a handsome khaki colour that would probably go well with brown dress shoes and a nice cardigan.

Big Rock Brewery has one gear in which they operate and they rarely shift; they make ordinary, fairly emasculated beers aimed at a mainstream audience. Traditional Ale, however, might be the exception, at least if its bouquet is any indication; genuine, hearty and full-bodied maltiness is a rare occurrence but apparently not an impossible one.

A blend of pale, caramel and black malts lends flavours of dried cranberry, toast, brown sugar and a colossal amount of delicious, sweet, chewy nuttiness. Not much of the sweetness lingers, however, as an undercurrent of three (very English) hop varieties sever all cords with an earthy, bitter exclamation point. It tastes like a good brown ale should.

The beer's personality is not loud, but at least it has one. Regardless, this is brewed in the English fashion and emphasizes, not volume, but melody. Indeed, the sweet nuttiness and dry toastiness of the malts and the earthiness of the hops all marry perfectly with one another, resulting in a rich medley of flavours. And I'm putting this track on repeat.

Big Rock Traditional was in fact at the top of my drinking 'playlist' on a recent trip to Alberta. Part of that had to do with the fact that it was so widely available, in particular in establishments that otherwise didn't offer half-way decent beer. But hey, in the world of widely distributed commercial beers, you can do a lot worse than this. A lot worse.

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Photo of aychbomb
3.72/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this is my "usual" beer so i hope this is an unbias review

-appearance: a sparkling clear light copper color, pours with a thin rocky head that quickly (almost immeadatly) all but disapears.

-smell: Malty and yeasty an almost rye bread like smell, hops nearly subtle but there

-taste: big malty taste, kind of fruity like cantalope, low hoppyness, slightly astringant (but not unpleasant) aftertaste.

-mouthfeel: low carbonation, a little bit "grainy" but still crisp and pleasant.

-drinkability: as iv'e said this is my "usual" so i think it is highly drinkable, awsom with sharp cheese (or nachos)

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Photo of the42ndtourist
3.7/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber colour, with 1-2 fingers head.
Dry taste, some malt and some hops come through. An above average beer, not unpleasant at all.
A good standard example of an american ale. Worth drinking.

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Photo of niangelo
3.68/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is perennial session brew for me. It's local, many times better any macro crap, and you can get it absolutely everywhere on tap in my city.

Poured from a pitcher. Nice 3/4 in tannish head that lasted a good while. Nice deep chestnut color with some amber. Is this a pale ale? I think on reviewer commented it looked more like a brown. I think he's right.

Toastiness and malt on the nose. Not terribly complex, but nice.

Mouthfeel is a mild carbonation that dances around the mouth and a smooth feel to the brew.

Tastes nice and toasty. Bready, caramel, toasty notes and a good bits of hops at the finish. Incredibly drinkable with buddies, one friend commented when sharing the pitcher, "I have to stop myself, it just dissappears if I just get talking and forget not to drink". Very true.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.68/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in an imperial pint glass)

A- Dark Amber brown with thin smooth tan head and little carbonation visible.

S- very clean smell with a faint toasty malt aroma

T- sweet bready biscuity malt start with some roastiness to follow. Light spicy hop bitterness with a clean finish.

M- a medium body that is a bit watery but finishes more full-bodied.

D- I really thought of this more as an American Brown Ale than an APA. It had much more malt depth with hops playing a nice supporting roll. It was a nice session beer when sitting in the Canadian Rockies.

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Photo of BierStein711
3.65/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draught, three finger head, frosted glass

No carbonation

Taosty, bready malt, with hop finish for taste.

Smells of bread

Overall, not a bad beer, but its moderate mouthfeel leaves it lacking.
Seems to be an ok beer. I haven't been a fan of brown ales ever, but this beer does not lean me towards them any further.

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Photo of spree92
3.65/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap intonation Nonic glass. A clear, dark amber with a thin skimming of head that left pretty good lacing. The smell replicates the taste of sweet toffee, malts and sugar candies. This was a smooth, creamy beer that was easy to drink and enjoyable. Overall, a local brewery that I would support if all beers were of this quality.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.64/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In Calgary for a conference and tried the Big Rock Traditional Ale. The appearance was quite good. A rich amber color and thin white head that laced on the glass. The smell was a little undescripted, could smell the hints of malt. The taste was really nice. A good malt and caramel character made this beer quite easy to drink. This made the mouthfeel very easy and could session this beer with no problem.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.63/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

341ml bottle, from my mom's stash, the one she only breaks out for tacos or pizza nights. I've probably drank more of this product than any other thus far in my suds-sipping life. This is gonna be hard to write, in that it'll be difficult to not just put down "Yep, tastes like Trad, all right". Anyway.

This beer pours a clear, sharp medium-dark bronzed amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, broadly bubbly, even bordering on soapy, pale beige head, which leaves some random specks of sparse islet lace around the glass as it duly recedes.

It smells of lightly roasted caramel malt, a touch of toffee and semi-sweet molasses, with a subtle floral, leafy earthy hoppiness. The taste is pleasantly nutty, roasted caramel malt, grainy brown sugar, a softly tart, fleshy berry fruitiness, and some fairly mild, but generally pervasive earthy, leafy English hops.

The carbonation is certainly noticeable, but not really in any way beyond a decent mouth-expanding frothiness, the body a pleasantly plump medium weight, and mostly smooth, a few of those old-world hops getting into the sauce, or something. It finishes on a sweet note, the caramel malt, subdued fruitiness, and weakening hops aligning as such.

A rather easy to put away, if not overly complex brown ale, consistent with all of my university drinking years in the 90s. I will credit Big Rock with providing the gateway experience that allowed me to enter the beer-drinking world without first having to endure the typical small-town fate of BMC-only hegemony. And while I will always prefer it on tap - the lower carbonation just lends itself to the heady malt flavours, not to mention the memories of 6 dollar shared pitchers - the single-serve packaging is just as enjoyable right here and now.

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Photo of BDTyre
3.63/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Seems to be more of a brown ale than a pale ale. This ale is a light copper colour with a decent head. Smells malty, and bready as others have mentioned. Taste is an okay combination of malts an hops -sometimes seems to be a bit on the hoppy side, sometimes a bit on the malty side. There is a slight metallic taste, even though this is from a bottle.

Regardless this ale is well done, though not outstanding. It makes a good session ale, and is easy to drink.

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Photo of mintjellie
3.62/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper brown with a finger of white head. Head fades quickly to a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a spot in the middle.

Very sweet aroma. Caramel and brown sugar. A hint of some non-descript dried fruit scent.

Sweet caramel on the palate, as the nose suggests. Mild burnt sugar. Bitterness in the finish is extremely mild and hard to pick up on before it warms a bit. A little bit of butterscotch makes its way through eventually as well.

Body between light and medium. Low carbonation. Smooth and easy to put back. Easy drinking and sessionable.

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Photo of MMansfield
3.6/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a single at Bishop's Cellar in Halifax.

Appearance: Pours a reddish brown colour with a slim off white head, little retention, leaves some lace.

Aroma: Biscuity malt, sweet with some caramel and toffee.

Taste: Very malty with breads and plenty of carmamel in its finish. Low bitterness, slightly metallic.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and very soft, not bad at all. Drinkability is extremely high.

Final Statement: Very basic sessional ale. Not offensive, not remarkable. Good companion to my chilli.

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Big Rock Traditional Ale from Big Rock Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 85 ratings.