The Red MacGregor | Orkney Brewery

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The Red MacGregorThe Red MacGregor
Very Good
236 Ratings
The Red MacGregorThe Red MacGregor

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Red Macgregor is a unique beer: delicate and sophisticated yet the robust cask conditioned version of this beer was the first Scottish beer to win the BIIA World Cask Beer Gold Medal.

On the nose, this ruby-red beer is delicate, floral and fruity, with notes of violets, cherries, toffee and caramel.

On the palate, the fruits combine with a juicy malt character and hints of toasted malt, with a biscuit malt and spicy hop finish.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-09-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 236 |  Reviews: 143
Photo of OzmanBey
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of goldenpeanut
4.87/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle in good condition externally. Served in a Half Pint glass with the Queen's Crown on the rim.

Temperature of storage cabinet 54F, Temperature at pour 54.5F

Aroma is dominated by hops with a caramel malt background. Hop character is English varietal in nature. Aroma is clean with no undue ferment characteristics present...malt and hops.

Pours a light tan head that is only fleeting in nature and drops back quickly to a single layer of bubbles. Some lacing does occur.

Carbonation explodes in the mouth releasing the flavor potential nicely. Body seems light for this style of beer (Wee heavy) and the hops more pronounced than usual. Upon some quick research, I found that this beer really classifies as a Scottish Export 80/- (shilling). In fact the research was unnecessary as Orkney makes one of my favorite beers of all time, the Wee Heavy Skull Splitter. Flavor consists of, flavor hop, chocolate and caramel malt and displays some notes of brewing sugar, probably beet sucrose in sane, appropriate amounts.

The hop flavor dominates the malt in this beer, or is at least on an equal par. This is surprising for any Scotch Ale which should exhibit low hop flavor and low to moderate bitter. This is a hoppy Scotch Ale...what a concept.



Hops and malt balance in finish with a lingering chocolate malt or dark grain bitter/astringent note. The bitter hops are not overdone but are on high side of style.

There is very little fermentation or yeast character present, the beer is exceptionally clean for an ale, This is as it should be for a scotch style, the hallmark of the style, actually, in my eyes. This is one of the places where homebrewers get it wrong many times and is difficult to achieve.

This is a very drinkable and pleasant beer. We could get on this for a night of socializing as a session beer, except for the price.

Beer changes very little on warming from 54F to 61F. This is as warm as we got it before the bottom of the glass appeared.

Bottom line...

This is an interpretation of this style from a Scottish brewery. It deviates in the flavor hops from its siblings, but, in a very nice way.

Good session beer, if you can afford it.

We highly recommend a cross tasting with Belhaven to see where it deviates from the norm of the style.


 2,422 characters

Photo of kmacphail
4.77/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is not an English Pale Ale as listed instead it is a ruby Scottish ale.

The beer pours a dark ruby colour with an off white head which settled to a 3mm film (decent for a botled beer).

The nose is dominated by one thing: malts,malts and more malts with a hint of roasted malts. Very nice, malty beers are becoming less frequent with the demise of 80/~.

The beer tastes of roasted malts with a slightly fruity hint of blackberries. The a very stereotypical scottish ale. The mouthfeel is medium to thick, just perfect for this type of ale.

The beer is very drinkable, it is easy to buy a dozen and finish these off in one sitting. Overall an excellent scottish ale, very old fashioned and very pleasant.

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Photo of hippoballetdancer
4.75/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of Bryfind
4.75/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of ccrida
4.64/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into my Samuel Smith imperial pint, The Red MacGregor is a bronzed chestnut with a tight, creamy eggshell head that leaves nice lace.

Smell is fantastic, and more eloquently summarized on the label better then I could muster, lavender, cherries, caramel. I also get some grassy, herbal hops and a hint of diacetyl.

Taste is also great, this is a really tasty ale, especially for only weighing in at 4%, much maltier then the nose, there's a spicy dryness, touch of roast, bittersweet, but with a lighter finish. There's also a nice earthy, slightly smoking ester to distinguish it from it's brethren elsewhere on the isle. A fantastic Scottish ale, especially for the often overlooked lighter end of the spectrum.

Mouthfeel is pretty smooth save for the spiciness mid-palate and lingering prickly tongue. Light-bodied.

Drinkability is fantastically high. I really love this beer, and am super impressed with how much flavor they got out of such a small, simple beer. The only chink in the armor is the cost, which is about $6.50-7 each! If it were a $40-60 case it would be great to stock up on.

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Photo of lou50rp
4.63/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Deep red color with an off-white head which lasted for awhile.
S - A strong malty smell with a touch of sweetness, maybe caramel?
T - Taste was very malty, much like the smell.
M - A strong feel. No watery wimpiness here.
D - An exceptional drinkability.

The folks in the Orkneys have a winner.

 298 characters

Photo of TonyVic
4.62/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this beer. The beer had a nice thick head to it when poured,great body,and a very floral aroma.

I ate it with fish & chips which went really well. The malty flavor reminded me a little bit of the flavor that you get when you have malt vinegar on the meal. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Cjet1
4.59/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Full bodied great beer. Overall one of my favorites from Scotland..

67 characters

Photo of claytri
4.57/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a dark amber with a tan head. The aroma was simply extra malty. The taste was so malty you might feel like you were eating it, and it has a nicely bitter finish. The feel is medium and dry. This is quite a fine example of what I'm looking for and generally find with Scottish ales. It has plenty of malt and that's fine with me. This is one I will buy when available.

 383 characters

Photo of alexskovan
4.52/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear deep amber bronze, lovely to look at. Sturdy off-white head. Rich aroma of piney hops, balanced with toasted malt. Taste is a somber brooding whaloop in the mouth, like a nice single malt Scotch whiskey. This ale is like drinking a fine old cabinet ( I mean that in a good way).

Malt, hops, yeast, all working together and doing exactly what they should. What more is there to say?

When the British (or the Scots) get ale right the result is much like when the French get red wine right. It is the standard, the stuff, IT.

 541 characters

Photo of WestHam973
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Phocion
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Live review. 500 ml bottle poured into an imperial nonic. Dark thick copper color with a finger of very resilient beige/light-brown head. Excellent retention and thick splotches of lacing.

Aroma is definitely malt forward. Caramel, biscuit, and toffee are dominant along with roasted malts. Floral hops and dark fruits are also noticable. Slight earthy hoppiness. Overall, fairly heavily hopped for a Scottish ale.

Flavor is sweet toffee and biscuit along with floral hops. Black cherry and toast. Slightly musty, earthy yeastiness. Slight spicy hoppy finish.

Light-medium bodied, but relatively substantial for a 4% beer. Low carbonation and a very soft mouthfeel. Perfect for the style.

Fairly highly hopped for a Scottish ale, though most American palates would find this quite boring. This is a perfect example of what good British beer is. Smooth mouthfeel, low and sessionable ABV, perfectly balanced, and complex but subtle flavors. This one is a definite winner.

 974 characters

Photo of PCaravan
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Has a deep copper color and pours a thin but dense cream colored head.

Aroma is of deep malty notes of caramel and nuts with nice earthy English hops in the background. A bit of apply esters there as well.

Taste is more of the same deep malty notes of carmel, nuts, and earthy hops with maybe a touch of roastiness that adds to a smooth bitterness that only slightly lingers. Very complex and nicely balanced. Nice graininess too... everytime a take a sip I notice something else.

It has a nice level of carbonation and nice chewy mouthfeel I like in beers with good malt presence.

I have to rate the drinkability pretty high here. It's a substantially rich beer that's not so heavy to keep you from drinking more.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an aorage-copper color with massive slightly off-white puffy head. Very attractive lacing. Smell is firm and malty with strong tones of dark fruit. Taste is truly enjoyable with a strong sweet fruitiness balanced by a nice hop bitterness. The balance is almost perfect. Nice and creamy texture. Ending shows more of the dry bitternss, and is the perfect way to finish off this beer. So easy to drink that I was finished before I could get done writing this review. Excellent beer.

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Photo of Brad007
4.45/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a darkish-red color with a decent head of foam that leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

Hop aroma and smokiness of the malt greet the nose. A bit of sweetness to the malt as well.

Taste is mainly sweet and the smokiness of the malt shows through in the middle. Subtle, not overpowering. Distinctive. Hop bitterness towards the back of the throat keeps this from being too sweet.

Mouthfeel is a mixture of smokiness and bitterness. Smooth and even a bit chewy.

Very drinkable. At 5%, it could make a great session ale. I'm pretty satisfied with the quality of the offerings from the Orkney Brewery.

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Photo of gfreed
4.4/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Generates a root-beer-float-colored head with moderate effort; the head lasts forever and leaves behind plenty of stuff on the glass. As it fades slowly, it gathers into a stiff peak. Nice. Light, spicy citrus in the nose; oranges and lemons with a touch of cocoa. Luminous ruby coloring; light carbonation; moderately dense body and... wowie taste. This is one of the best bitters I've ever had. The malt is lightly toasty, there are apples and rains up front and there's a nice hint of chocolate that lasts even after the not-overly spicy hops hit at the end. What a treat. My only regret is that I bought the last one on the shelf. Definitely one to keep in stock at home.

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Photo of champ103
4.37/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A: Pours a cloudy reddish/brown color. A perfect two finger beige head forms. Nice lace clings to the glass.
S: What a wonderful aroma. At first peaty malt and toffee. Dark fruits (plums and cherries). Some floral hops that are subtle and in the background balance out the nose. I can't ask for much more.
T: The peaty malt flavor is a little more subtle, but comes out as it warms. Some toffee flavors and fruit that follow the nose. An interesting spiciness, and some hop bitterness.
M/D: A light to medium body, and over carbonated for me. Though this is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink.

A great beer. This is a good example of on of my favorite style. An easy drinking Scottish Ale, and one of the most flavorful beers I have had at only 4%. One I wish I had more of.

 781 characters

Photo of shigg85
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of 1000Bottles
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear copper ruby hue with a medium tan to ivory head. Aromas of caramel, toffee and floral & spicy hops. Flavor is lightly sweet, some earthy/grainy notes, light caramel, slightly fruity. Finish is light, creamy, delicious and leaves you longing for another taste! A really well made beer, especially at 4.0% ABV (that's what it says on the bottle)...

 360 characters

Photo of BeerSox
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into 20oz pint glass.

I had just about the perfect pour on this beer. In fact, I think it was perfect. The head lined up perfectly with the top of the glass, nothing spilling over, and no room left. The beer is a deep deep mahogany with a light tan one finger dense head. It slowly settles to a thin cap, leaving a good amount of lacing in its place. As the beer goes down the glass, some relatively solid lacing remains.

The aroma is loaded with a burnt caramel aroma and a little bit of coffee. Some fruity esters are mixed in as well. The smell of this beer is absolutely lovely.

Roasty malt, almost like dark coffee, is the main characteristic of the beer. A slightly smokey hint can be detected here and there. The hop bitterness is low, which is expected. Full bodied with slightly lower carbonation, creating a slick feel. The finish is mostly the smokey malt flavors lingering.

The flavor seems a little tame on this one, which is a shame, because it tastes pretty good. Otherwise, the presentation is great, and the aroma is superb. At 5%ABV, this beer is definitely sessionable. Recommended.

 1,118 characters

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours brilliant mahogany with a persistent, clingy 1” rocky fwhite oam collar – beautiful, very creamy, smooth and fluffy. Drinks clean and smooth with kettle sugars aromas and flavors.

 189 characters

Photo of ryanmcd
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

Photo of DonDonLongJohn
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

Photo of tvljr
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

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The Red MacGregor from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 3.78 out of 5 with 236 ratings
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