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Big Rock Traditional Ale - Big Rock Brewery

Not Rated.
Big Rock Traditional AleBig Rock Traditional Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
77
okay

165 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 165
Reviews: 82
rAvg: 3.37
pDev: 15.13%
Wants: 4
Gots: 10 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-26-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 165 | Reviews: 82 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kwjd
3.28/5  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.

kwjd, Nov 04, 2010
Photo of QuestionableScum
3.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours clear brown with copper notes, and an off white head.

Smell- Smells of roasted malts, sweet malts, and a little bit of graininess.

Taste- Sweet malts and roasted malts as it finishes, with a slightly metallic hoppy finish. Not much else, as far as I can tell besides a little bit of bready graininess.

Mouthfeel- Thin, and a bit watery, but not terrible or bad by any strech

Drinkable- A very sessionable beer, albeit very average.

QuestionableScum, Sep 25, 2010
Photo of biegaman
3.75/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

biegaman, Aug 27, 2010
Photo of decimator
3.45/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

355ml can poured into a pint glass.

A - Poured a clear amber with a cream coloured head. It quickly reduce to a long lasting thin cap with some lacing being produced.

S - Bread, caramel, hint of toast and a hint of herbs.

T - Plenty of sweet caramel & molasses upfront with a mild bitter & nutty finish.

M - Just feels average.

D - Quite drinkable. One of the better brews from Big Rock.

decimator, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of seand
3.6/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent reddish brown with a small amount of off white head. Just a little retains, not enough to leave much lacing.

S: Lightly sweet, with brown sugar and some floral tones.

T: Relatively light, slightly sweet with just a touch of hops on the finish.

M: Medium bodied, medium to high carbonation.

D: Drinks quite easily, wouldn't be a bad session beer.

seand, Jul 07, 2010
Photo of DoctorStrangiato
4.22/5  rDev +25.2%
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!

DoctorStrangiato, Jan 25, 2010
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.58/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Was given a six pack of this from a brewery rep - going to be hard giving a bonus beer a low score, but I'll try to be impartial!

Pours a medium amber colour, leaving a thin ring of head that's lasted throughout the glass. Lots of sticky lacing too. A good start!

The nose is caramel up front, possibly a bit of yeast as well. Not too complex, but decent.

The taste is a blend of caramel and nuts, followed by a slightly acidic finish. Perhaps a bit of fruit flavour in the middle: apple and mild cherry.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin. This coupled with the colour and the taste composition really leads me to categorize this as an English pale, rather than a brown.

Actually, a good little ale, great for a session. I had no problems drinking this, and will enjoy the rest of my 6 pack! Not the best brown (pale?) out there, but certainly a fine brew.

JohnnyBarman, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of ludachris
2.93/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this one courtesy of TheHammer. Thanks pal.

Pours a crystal clear deep honey amber with burning, golden amber higlights. Two finger light tan head. Good retention and decent patchy lacing.

Smell of watered down caramel, funky candied malt, light fruity esters and a dry nutty backing.

Caramel, toasted malts and a distinct nutty flavour (almost acidic) upfront followed by a wet biscuity malt finish and again with a light astringent bite. The astringency is the most prominent taste appearing randomly throughout.

Mouthfeel isnt really anything special; light bodied and wet from start to finish.

Overall, seems like an average EBA at best. Appearance and drinkability are the highlights but both the nose and taste are watered down and bland. There's plenty of room to pack more flavour in for sure. Much rather have Rogue, Black Oak or Garrison's EBA offering.

ludachris, Oct 20, 2009
Photo of TheHammer
2.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Another part of the big rock mix pack I got from a friend at work. Three down, two to go.

Appearance: Poured with a solid thumb of head that sadly did not retain nor laced at all. Carbonation looks solid and the beer is fairly clear for a brown ale although still manages to boast a nice dark brown copper color.

Smell: It took a little bit of warming, but boasts a nice caramel scent with a solid sweet malt backing. However there is a slight acidic undertone which I could do without but fairly solid still.

Taste: Big rock seriously needs to do something about it's malts because that funky molasses like malt taste has returned, as it permeates the entire beer. However at least with this offering it is somewhat tempered with a nice bitter nutty end.

Mouthfeel: This one leaves a slight dry nut aftertaste, which is nice good but it also leaves this lingering, well I want to say filmy but it's thicker then that, and I want to say sludge but I wouldn't say it's that pronounced. Anyways good transition from malt to bitter but room for improvement.

Drinkability: Well it is going down already no stomach problems, but it does have some gas issues. However that can be made up for the fact it is decent enough going down and decent refreshment.

Final Thoughts: I'm noticing a trend with Big Rock, and that is that funky malt flavor. All in all this was a decent beer, but I wouldn't say I was impressed by it by any means, and would not buy this beer if it wasn't in the mix pack. Worth a try, but not much more.

TheHammer, Oct 08, 2009
Photo of wordemupg
3.48/5  rDev +3.3%
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

wordemupg, Sep 24, 2009
Photo of mintjellie
3.63/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

mintjellie, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of berley31
3.48/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a small, off-white head that disappeared quite quickly to a haze on top of the beer. No lacing. Body was very clear, and dark amber in color. I enjoyed the aroma... light malt and hops, with something else quite pleasant that I couldn't put my finger on. Body was light to medium on the palate, and slightly oily/creamy, with lively carbonation. Nice flavor that starts off slightly sweet, but finishes with a light bitterness, yet short duration. Overall a pretty enjoyable beer that would make a good session ale (although there seems to be some confusion from different sources over exactly what class of beer this is).

berley31, Jul 10, 2009
Photo of Grunewald
4.33/5  rDev +28.5%
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.

Grunewald, Jul 03, 2009
Photo of Shadman
3.48/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The brew that probably started the 'micro' industry here in Western Canada at least.

Reddish brown in colour, clear, with a decent head that receeded quite quickly.

Roasted malt, hint of floral hop, touch of cinninom...

Touch watery @ first, bit of a bite on the toungue from the carbonation. Flavours come through shortly afterward. Nice roasted malt singed with a totouch of smoke. Hop bitterness balanced this out nicely.

I'm certain there are better examples of this style out there, but I find this beer to be so damnned drinkable, when I am in the mood for anything from Big Rock...

Shadman, Jun 19, 2009
Photo of manchester81
3.53/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 341 ml bottle into a glass mug.

The beer is dark amber in colour, small head, good lacing. Not a strong smell, but mostly sweet. Taste is sweet, hints of apple, decent finish. High carbonation, thin mouthfeel.Drinkability is fairly high, a good session beer.

Big Rock calls this an English Brown, and I think that is a better description than APA. It compares well with Newcastle, maybe a touch better. Overall, it is fairly average, but a safe bet. It is available everywhere in Alberta, and a good alternative to the big macros.

manchester81, May 21, 2009
Photo of Jimhillsb
3.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 12 oz brown bottle into a regular old pint glass.

The beer is super clear, with a nice fluffy initial head. This quickly subsides, though the brew remains effervescent throughout. Color is somewhere between amber and a new penny.

Smelled less enticing. Not necessarily skunky, but definitely a bit like spoiling grain/ a 2 hour old bowl of corn flakes.

This ale is a middle of the road example of an English brown ale. Its a bit like a newcastle, but with a somewhat richer flavor. Rich malts, light hops, which are more apparent as the beer nears the end. The balance is good, and it is definitely something i could session on all night, especially because drinking this out of bottles would preclude me from having to smell it.
Mouthfeel is somewhat thin... fairly bubbly for this type of ale...
Overall the beer is on my growing list of decent, but sessionable Canadian micros.

Jimhillsb, May 07, 2009
Photo of nighthawk
3.38/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a sixer of cans from the NSLC, not my usual stuff, but looking to try something new to me.

Pours a clear copper, with darker mahogany hues near the middle. Head is off-white, almost yellowish, generous at first but dissipates to a thin ring fairly quickly. Some lacing is left as I consume.

Some mild sweet malts, with buttery and fruity hop notes. A bit subdued.

Taste is malt-centric. Sweet bread and caramel up front, turning to buttery near the middle before a hint of hop bittersweetness and a slightly nutty finish. As the beer warms, a spicy hop flavour comes through.

Mouthfeel is smooth, fairly creamy, and medium-bodied. Carbonation is light, but still felt.

This beer is pleasant to drink, inoffensive, middle-of-the-road, but tasty nonetheless. I'll note that I'm not reviewing this as an APA, as the brewer doesn't consider it one. It's closer to an english-style brown, and it hits pretty square in the middle for that style.

nighthawk, Apr 25, 2009
Photo of prosper
3.78/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

prosper, Mar 12, 2009
Photo of biboergosum
3.63/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

biboergosum, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.05/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz can poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a clear, dark copper and topped with a wispy one inch, frothy, white head that fades rather quickly into a thin cap

S: Smells like strawberry hard candy, I'm serious.

T/MF: I wish it tasted like it smelled. Opens mildly earthy, but then becomes blander, mild fruity hops try to bring some character to this beer but really is fighting a loosing battle. Malts are the dominate aspect of this beer and because of this, makes the beer sort of out of its style category. It's more of an English pale ale than an american, and while its does not taste bad, it does not taste like an APA should.

D: If you are looking for a cheap APA with an unterrible taste this is the beer for you, otherwise stick with a SNPA, which is pretty affordable and has much more to offer.

bluemoonswoon, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of ChrisCage
3.6/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- This poured a reddish/coppery color, which I really was impressed with...it is nice and clear as well. The head showed some promise but didn't stick around for too long, quickly cutting itself down to a ring around the glass. There isn't much lacing to speak of either. Mild carbonation by the looks of things and moving it around, it looks like it has a heavier body.

S- Malt and lots of it! There is a pronounced sweet caramel aroma, along with heavier notes of molasses and dark brown sugar. I didn't smell really anything of note when it came to hop presence or any of the fruity esters that I may have been expecting. Just rich and sweet!

T- I really like the flavor of this, even though the bitter hopped finish is milder than I would like, though it comes through better than in the smell. It's rich, just like the aroma would suggest, with slightly burnt sugar flavors along with toffee and just a hint of dark chocolate.

M- Not as full as I would have thought upon the visual inspection, but more of a light-medium feel. The carbonation is a little more than I thought it would be but the bubbles are very fine. There is a mild smoothness that soothes the palate after the initial carbonation wears off, which I like. There would be better marks here if there was more of a head to make it a little creamier though.

D- While I like this beer and think Big Rock has done a decent job here, I wouldn't be able to enjoy this all night, as it is a little on the sweet side. However, it is a good beer to have with a meal, say BBQ'd ribs with s milder sauce....as well, this would do nicely as an after dinner drink. A decent brew!

ChrisCage, Aug 29, 2008
Photo of Graham5161986
2.55/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: pours a clear, ruby brown with a 1 1/2 finger off white head that has pretty decent retention and actually leaves some pretty good lacing. (the best aspect of this beer!)

S: grassy hops (a bit of floralness in there too), sweet caramel malts, slight bready touch. A bit of cooked corn as well unfortunately.

T: bready, a touch of floral hops with a nutty finish that is a bit too sweet.

M: light and slightly creamy, decent carbonation, But an oily, somewhat cloying finish.

D: this is actually one of the better offerings from Big Rock IMHO, but still far from fantastic and too sweet to make it easily drinkable. I would drink it again if offered, but I won't be buying it again.

Graham5161986, Apr 16, 2008
Photo of bobsy
3.58/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

bobsy, Apr 07, 2008
Photo of Antilochus
3.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed in a single at a Kingston, ON LCBO. 5.00% abv, 341mL. Fridge temp. Poured into a wine glass.

Amber brownish body, sudsy beige head.

Metallic hop notes, sweet caramel malt backbone. A little bubblegum. Gets a bit leafy.

Nice balance on the palate, but a little too sweet for an APA. Finish is a bit off. Metal comes back a bit too strong for my taste, but decent malt presence. Whoa, gets super herbal in the finish... like *the herb*. Don't see that flavour in beer often. Some wood too.

A decent APA from an unexpected brewery.

Antilochus, Apr 04, 2008
Photo of CanuckRover
3.33/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an attractive caramel brown. Filmy with some good lacings.

Sweet, sugary malt on the nose.

Whoa malt! This is one sweet, sugary beer. Toffee, burnt caramel, honey and sugary fruit, thinking dates. Liquid creme caramel. Little bit of North American hops in a thin finish, sort of strange. Hops have a bit of citrus bitterness which clashes with the overall sweet malt.

Like all Big Rock's brew, overly carbonated. I sort of enjoyed it, but I could see getting pretty sick of it after the first one.

CanuckRover, Feb 26, 2008
Big Rock Traditional Ale from Big Rock Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 165 ratings.