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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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Reviews: 85 | Hads: 181
Photo of Sammy
2.71/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Some decent malt then bit of hopbitterness and aftertaste. Medium texture and watery. Rather bland. Not much hops. Canadian relying on balance. Water and sugar. Slight fizz and yeast mid-sip. The type to have cold as refreshing as you are not missing anything.

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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 GClarkage
2.8/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Mid September 2005.

Presentation- Purchased at a random grocery store in Fairmont Hot Springs in BC. No dating on the can, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance- Darker amber coloring, very faint head and slight lace.

Smell- A touch stinky with decent amount of roasted malt.

Taste- Just the lightest of hop taste and a larger dark malt flavor as well.

Mouthfeel- Lower carbonation and fairly bland.

Drinkability- Nothing special here. Drank half of it and used the rest to cook our pork roast in.

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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 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 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 Derek
3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Medium amber, little head.

S: Slight scent of British hops (Goldings?)

T: Starts with a light malt flavour (Munich-like), with some earthy hop taste. Finishes dry, with a slightly bitter after-taste.

M: Light to moderate.

D: More flavour than a macro, but not a lot. It shouldn't offend the average drinker.

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Photo of DrJay
3.12/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very clear coppery red colour. Off-white head quickly subsided to a thin lace. Malty aroma with some caramel and light nuttiness. The flavour was a bit disappointing, with some grainy sweetness to start and finishing with a very light bitterness. It's almost as if the flavour disappears part way through. Medium/high carbonation and light body with almost no aftertaste.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.47/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle pouted into 400ml dab glass sept23 2009

A crystal clear deep copper, with a two finger head that falls very fast and leaves very little lace.

S some caramel, malt and burnt sugar

T as it smells with some nutty flavors not bad but not great

M not too light, not too heavy with mild carbonation

D easy enough too drink, don't go looking for this one but pick one up if your ever in Calgary

Trad is the industry's standard here in Calgary, nothing worth bragging about but nothing too be ashamed of either

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Photo of Viggo
3.15/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish copper, thin white head forms, settles to a decent layer, no lacing. Smell is sweet and malty, citrus and toffee, not much going on, some grass, but not offensive. Taste is stale malt, figs, fruits, little bit of citrus, kind of lemony in the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied with low carbonation. Not good, not bad, just kind of on the low end of mediocre, but as expected from Big Rock.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

355ml Can from the Beer Store

Appearance - Light brown/copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is an averahe amount of carbonation and there is some decent lacing. The head lasted for around 3 minutes.

Smell - Malts, caramel/butterscotch, hops

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel and some light hops. There is also a light amount of fruit esters and a nuttiness. It ends with a malty sweet aftertaste.

Overall - Definitely the best beer I've ever had from Big Rock. It's very drinkable and has a nice balanced taste. I won't rush out to buy more, but I'm glad I gave it a try. It's along the same lines as the Creemore Springs beer.

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Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice cloudless amber color as it sets in the glass, head is adequate, frothy and a winsome beige color, as is disappears a nice sheet of lace is left behind to hide the glass. All malt nose, sweet and clean a satisfactory sniffer, sweet malt start, once again a bit thin on top for me, but nothing I can’t live with. Finish is sternly acidic, the hops pleasant in their spiciness, quite dry and a fine drinking beer especially in the hot summer month’s.

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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 kwjd
3.29/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap at The Imperial Pub in Toronto. Pours an amber-brown colour with very thin white head that dissipates to nothing pretty quickly, leaving almost no lacing. Smells of sweet caramel, toasted barley and very mild hop aroma. Flavour is quite sweet. I have a soft spot for this beer as I used to drink this when I was a teenager in Alberta, but going back to it I realize there are much better examples of the style. Objectively, not worth drinking again. Emotionally, I have a soft spot for this beer.

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Photo of bobsy
3.58/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single to check it out.

Pours an attractive mahogany with a small tan head that sticks around and laces well. Malty aroma with caramel and fruit is simple, but pleasing. The taste has more of the same, with a pleasant caramel balanced by the fruitiness and a restrained bitterness. A pronounced nuttiness also combines with biscuit to produce a toasty effect. There's really not a heck of a lot to it, but its far better than I expected from Big Rock. Body is medium light with medium carbonation, and fits the beer well.

Drinkable beer, but you would probably be looking for something with a bit more flavour in your next one.

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Photo of BigBry
3.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

355 ml can. Probably the most popular Big Rock product. Color is a coppery red. Almost no head, leaves a patchy cap of surface foam, small amount of lacing. First smell is sweet, sugary malt with slight caramel. Taste is sweet and grainy, light bitter to finish, but overall well balanced and no after taste. Medium body, and easy to drink. If you are expecting a "traditional ale" you might be dissapointed because it is somewhat characterless. Has no overpowering strong points, just good all around.

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Photo of oldp0rt
3.55/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Delicious brown beer with a nice head that stays for a bit.

Beer is a nice caramel brown and not over carbonated.

This beer smells very sweet but after the first sip you notice that it doesn't taste as sweet as it smells so you can have a few in a row without a problem.

Did the trip to the beer store for this and I just might pick up another 6 next time I go.

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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 pootz
3.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap in many Calgary and Edmonton pubs...flows like water here as BR has sewed up the draft market locally. Tapped a crystal clear darker amber, slight white cap that doesn't last long. Slight hints of citrusy and grassy hop, boiled grains in the aroma. Starts light and rather timid for a traditional english dark ale ale but then the fuller body kicks in midway with the well balanced hop and malt departure the finish is clean with a lingering "bread" after taste. As commercial Canuck ales go this is probably the best of the lot but still lacking. It's another attempt to "Canadianize" a traditional ale style for the mass market....it is always a compromise....but as compromises go this one has retained a modicum of ale character to make it king of the commercial Canuk ales.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.16/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'll be blunt - I like most brown ales, and this fondness probably derives originally from Big Rock's Trad, which is almost certainly the first of the style (and probably the first non-yellow-fizzy-macro beer) I ever tried. This stuff is commonplace in Alberta, but hailing from Ontario I had never seen it at the time and it remains a reliable treat. This is the first time I've had a can of this stuff, so we'll see if the packaging affects the taste at all.

Trad is a deep reddish-brown colour, technically translucent but too dark to see anything through it. I was a little chintzy with the pour but still wound up with a half-inch of creamy beige head. It lasts about a minute before dissipating to a cap with some lacing on the sides. Smell is faint, of sweet malts, caramel/toffee. Like most of Big Rock's flagship beers, none of the smells jump out at you, but they're at least somewhat appealing.

The taste is kind of the same way: alright, but nothing to seize your attention. Some sweetness with a bit of a tang afterward. Brown sugar, caramel malts. Almost unnoticeable twinge of hop bitterness in the finish. The sweetness isn't exactly cloying, and the beer itself is only medium-to-light bodied so there's no problem throwing a couple of these back. I didn't notice any metallicity or other funkiness from the can, which is good. Carbonation is middling.

Same Old Trad - it is what it is - an average, fairly easy-to-find Canadian brown ale. Craft beer enthusiasts will probably not be especially impressed, because frankly there's not a lot to it, and there are other EBAs that deserve your time more. It's simple, sweet, refreshing, and the flavours harmonize nicely. At least worth a try, and a good "layman's ale" if you're trying to introduce someone to beer that isn't BMC.

[Updated August 7 2014]

I picked up a six-pack of this just for old times' sake. Nostalgia was probably tainting my original review - this is drinkable, but in all honesty it's not much better than the pseudo-macro stuff (think Rickard's or Keith's). Finding better brown ales is not very difficult, especially in this province.

Final Grade: 3.16, a C+.

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Photo of TerryW
2.21/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Handsome crystal clear chesnut colour. Pours only a short head that almost immediately dissipates leaving just a patchy film. No lace to speak of.

Nose is slightly sweet from malts with a distinct grassy barnyard twang to it.

Taste is sweet malt up front with a short hop bite to finish. The beer also has a sharp metallic character to it and that lingers a bit unpleasantly on the tongue. Overall mouthfeel is thin and metallic.

Sorry. Can't recommend this one.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Looks alright. Pours a clear copper with a two finger head. Foam is sticky enough, but isn't very solid.

S - Malt-centered with a toastiness and malt heaviness. A little bit cheesy.

T - Buttery and sweetish, with a roasted presence. No aftertaste really. Not a lot of hops either. Balance is leaning towards malt, but not a heavy beer.

M - Feel alright. Moderate carbonation on a medium body.

D - Kind of an average brew. Not macro-boring, but a very basic beery beer that doesn't offend.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
2.81/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dull dark copper color with a crackly head that fades fast. Soft malts and some floral hops make up the aroma. The flavor is of sweet malts and some funny yeast taste. The hops are not very noticeable. This beer was a dissapointment to me. Its seriously lacking in the hop department and has a very bland run of the mill flavor. The finish is clean but way too watery. This beer is like an amateur extract hombrew.

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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 CalgaryFMC
3.34/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light caramel to brown (light for the style) with two fingers of butterscotch foam. Aroma is sweet grainy malt, artificial vanilla extract, a faint hint of earthy herbal hops. Palate is smooth, sweet corn syrup, mellow toasty malt, carnival peanuts, some treacle, vanilla toffee notes, faint earthy hops. Mouthful is quite nice actually, silky smooth and decent body, some chewy malts. An underachieving brown ale that is a decent sessional if one is in an old school pub mood. Lacks nutty punch and swings way towards sweet but mellow malt.

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