The Red MacGregor | Orkney Brewery

very good
233 Ratings
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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

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Ratings: 233 |  Reviews: 142
Photo of OzmanBey
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of flyingpig
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby amber colour with inch tall foamy tan head. Good retention with a thick lacing remaining.

Spicy hops upfront along with a blend of toffee and sweet malts. I can also detect a fruity aroma that compliments the beers overall sweetness although the aroma is not quite as strong as I would have liked.

Strong hop flavour upfront, more so than the nose indicated and quite a pine like taste to it that almost makes it seem like your drinking an IPA. Some good floral and fruit notes along with some biscuit and malts.

Medium in body and with a smooth feel to it, the carbonation levels are good and the balance is just about right.

Lighter and more hoppy than I would have imagined but this makes the beer all the better for it. It has a great session beer character to it and is incredibly drinkable.

1 of the 1001 Beers to Try Before you Die:

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Photo of flagmantho
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich, enticing amber hue with a crystal-clear body. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam. Very, very nice.

Smell: big crystal malt aroma with a good hop component which is both a little spicy and a little citrusy; not unlike Cascade hops, really. It's not bad, although the combination of crystal and Cascade makes me think homebrew in the back of my skull.

Taste: mildish crystal malt flavor with mildish, bright hop flavor. Certainly brighter than other Scottish ales I've had. Not bad but not really to my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a good, well-integrated carbonation. Good mouthfeel for something with this low of an ABV.

Overall: not a bad session beer, although as I said not precisely to my taste. I wonder how this stuff is on cask?

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Photo of n00tz
3.16/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear ruby body, tight cream-colored head, with sparse lacing. Carbonation is a bit slow, but steady.

S - Fruity malts and florals are easily detectable, not much beyond that.

T - Light breadiness imparted by the yeast. Very typical scotch creaminess is quickly gone to the bitterness that follows. Alcohol flavors almost cover the bitter fruit of black cherries, blackberries, and other tart or unripened fruit. Slight hop spiciness. I felt a bit disappointed in the hop balance the rest of the ale. If the initial creamy smoothness and yeasty breadiness had more presence, or if the fruity bitterness at the end wasn't quite so drowned by the alcoholic character, I think this would be in the starting lineup for Scottish Ales.

M - A bitter fruit aftertaste and slight stickiness is no doubt their "intensely hoppy" impart. The ale is a medium body that delivers its flavors well to the palate.

D - Overall, it just leaves some room for improvement on the balance of the character it has. It's a great profile for a Scottish Ale.

AFTERWARDS - Wow, the burp is a wonderful malty cream... Did I drink it too cold (~45F)?

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Photo of palma
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby red body. very long lasting tan smooth creamy head. almost nitro pour looking. great appearance out of the bottle.

nose is big maltiness with fruity notes and floral whiffs. cherries, plums, raisins. Roses.

Flavor profile is very malty as expected. bready, toastiness. slight astringency toward the end. More hops than expected. more of a spicy hoppiness rather than citrus or piney.

Mouthfeel is juicy, mild, smooth. Wonderful.

A good session beer. Spicy hops brings the overall complexity of the beer to a decent level however, for a scottish session ale like this I would have liked to see a little more complexity of the malt flavors.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"The Authentic Orcadian Ale," reads the label. Never having ventured to the Orkney Islands - but having ventured to quaff their deliscious Dark Island and splendid Skullspliter - I thought, "Why not? If it's not Scottish, it's crap!" It pours a consistent froth and settles quickly atop a foreboding ruby red body. There is an abundance of gummy lacing circumventing the glass.

There are floral notes that hide minute wafts of cherry; the palate ascertains the crystal malt blanket and detects a subtle hoppiness that exits to leave a grassy finish.

This is a pleasant sessional, one that encompasses drinkability and mouthfeel criteria all the while offering enough chewiness to set it apart from the pack.

And since it provides a minimal alcohol - it being 4% abv - the Red MacGregor portends numerous quaffs to anyone who finds themselves among the craggy coast of Orkney.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.71/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby colour, slight murky brown tinge with a fairly flat, uncarbonated midst. Head is quite lovely: dense bubbles, beige colour, frothy suds on top with some thin lace and very nice retention.

Smell is really rather hoppy. Pleasant caramel malt underlies with a touch of vanilla but it's predominantly grassy from the hops with a slight medicinal bent and a mild earth character at the back. Well-balanced but somehow its appeal has worn thin the more I smell it.

Taste is quite English, with lots of rich toffee providing the major malt characteristics. Develops some earthy bitterness midway where the palate's peak of intensity lies. No real peaks or troughs of flavour though, it's quite one-note with just a mild crescendo of strength. Finish is clean, slightly herbal and XXX-tremely austere, mild and polite. A well-constructed ale, very sessionable, but the flavour just isn't quite a winner. I find it about as exciting as those bland English sitcoms, Are you Being Served? or As Time Goes By. And yes, I'm aware this is Scottish.

A bit sharp and biter on the feel, I think the hops assert themselves more through texture and really could have been more noticeable on palate as a result.

A session beer, definitely. Drinkable as hell, exciting as algebra.

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Photo of bobhits
2.55/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice looking red ale color, good carbonation, a bit of a lack of bubbles in the body, clarity could be better considering it’s 4% abv.

Not much to speak of. Amber malt and a hint of earthy hops.

Toasty bread and caramel malt, spicy hops. I know this is low abv, I know it should be refreshing and not over powering in flavor. But really this is it?

Extremely drinkable, even ding would approve calling this a session beer.

I was hoping for something else something more. I’ve had this beer many times only done a good bit better.

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Photo of FleeVT
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Ruby center with amber edges and a white cap.
S: As advertised on the bottle, violet and cherry with hints of caramel. Nice hint of citrus hops.
T: Fantastic malt to hop balance. Malts come through in a nice buttery roasted profile followed by a crisp slightly bitter finish. Almost have a California hops feel to it.

Great for the style and a session beer if you can afford it...

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Photo of salvo
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours richly red with an inch of head that holds a long time and etches the pint glass all the way down. Smell is of herbal and floral hops--assertive for a Scottish ale.

Rich maltiness displaces all the talk of hops: carmel and toffee dominate with just hints of dark fruit and chocolate. How all those flavors come through with just 4% alcohol continues to baffle.

This is an excellent Scottish red ale. It tastes a little sweet to my palate after two years away from Scotland, but I remember these red beers being refreshing and crisp when available. I wonder if there is any additional malt or sugar used in export bottling as this seems a touch sweeter than when I had it on tap ... but the memory is a fleeting and distrustful thing.

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Photo of wesbrownyeah
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Red MacGregor Scottish Ale 4.0% alcohol. Poured 16.9 ounce bottle into a dogfish goblet.

A- Pours a deep red amber colored fluid with an active tight bubbled quarter inch off white head that falls to a thin froth leaving mild lacing on glass.

S- Floral hops with a mix of musky malts dominate the nose. Very inviting.

T-M- Buttery upfront flavor with notes of slightly bitter citrus hops followed by rich semi sweet malts and toasted barley. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with nothing to offensive on the tongue.

Overall a good beer to session.

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Photo of metter98
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear dark red in color and has a slight amount of carbonation along with a bit of particles visible floating in suspension. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that quickly died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of malty sweetness, caramel and floral hops in the nose.
T: The initial taste has a bit of malty sweetness and flavors of caramel--this transitions to a light amount of bitterness towards the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied, slightly smooth and a bit watery on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of dryness in the finish.
O: This beer goes down very easily and is also very sessionable given its low alcohol content.

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Photo of jar2574
3.09/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The bottle design has changed. It now says "5000 years in the making" and has a picture of cliffs and an ocean rather than a dude with a sword.

Pours with a decent head. Brown, pretty dense but light does get through. The best thing about this beer is the lacing on the way down.

Hardly any smell. Maybe a tiny touch of sweet malts.

This is beer is more malty than hoppy. There is some sweetness, like plums and dark cherries. Dark fruits. A slight syrupyness to the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is much fuller than a BMC beer but carbonation is pretty average and things aren't that exciting.

I have to say - this is my second Scottish Ale of the night and it isn't a terrible beer - but if I'm ever in Scotland I'm drinking the Scotch before the beers.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This certainly makes up for the near flavorless Williams Bros 80/- I had recently though, this is an Orkney ale.

Much like the former, this is a very crisp, clean, pure-tasting brew. Excellent quality white tight head from the get-go, dissipating slow and trailing ample crystalline lace. Clear garnet color has the liquid.

Carbonation is sprite enough to lend a refreshing zip to the delicate yet rich, uniquely Scottish, lightly caramel, biscuit malt flavor. Yes, this has flavor - flavor which shows wonderful balance between the moderately rich, toasty biscuit malt that comes on strongest up front and the surprising (though not so much after finding out Cascade was used) hop presence - fresh, fragrant and floral on the nose and vibrant and zesty on the tongue. Its grassy and flowery bitterness and pungency lingers long after.

I would imagine this is lovely on cask. I did in fact have it on cask in Edinburgh a couple years ago, but the details are sketchy. Regardless, I find this to have been splendid from the bottle. Delightfully (relatively) effervescent while retaining both palpable flavors and a balanced blend with them. Took my time sipping this one.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a half-pint glass. Reviewed December 2010.

A: Clearish nut-brown with clumps of lace.

S: Neutral, but with nice hops.

T: A hop bite. Smooth, sweet malts. A nice malted-grapefruit twist! The aftertaste is light and dry.

M: Sprightly and fun.

D: A good cask beer -- hoppier than usual and good going down. Recommended.

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Photo of gopens44
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Ruby red and clear. An unusually white head (given the color of the beer) that was nice and foamy.

S - Cherries, bananas and a touch malty

T - Bitter with a nice cherry taste that balanced very well with the malty backbone.

M - A touch thin, medium carbonation and a pleasant amount of lingering bitter cherry in the aftertaste

Probably my favorite Scottish Ale to date. Very enjoyable beer!

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Photo of ramseye4
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark opaque color with a 1.5 finger head that slowly fades away, lacing is outstanding, gobs of foam stick to the side of the glass. Aroma is of predominately malts and toffee, with the overall smell of fresh bread, with an earthy, grainy smell. Taste is very earthy, overall very very malty, some caramel, and what I think eating straight barley would taste like, fairly straightforward. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, highly carbonated, bitter after taste. Drinkability is outstanding, as it slides down easily and the taste is simple enough that this beer can be quaffed without having to ponder the complexities of the beer.

A nice low ABV departure from what I normally drink, I think that I need to start looking harder at lower ABV brews

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Photo of udubdawg
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a sort of dark orange/brown, though I could squint and call it red. Light tan head fades quickly to an uneven cap, but leaves surprisingly good lacing over much of the glass.

I could easily call the aroma earthy but it seems to go beyond the usual light earth/peat/smoke and is a bit musty. I wouldn't call it unpleasant, but I am hard-pressed to recall a similar mustiness in anything but a quality biere de garde. dark fruits make a brief visit and there is a light caramel quality throughout. Several times I think I get a light sourness, though to be clear it never came through on the flavor...

..which is quite good. It doesn't blow me away, and from the first sip I would say this is lighter in body than I've come to expect from the style, but pleasant nonetheless. Caramel and especially toffee are much more noticeable, as is the aforementioned earthiness. Sweet up front but with the light body and surprisingly dry finish it is way short of cloying. Some hops in the finish balance as well. Maybe not quite to style, but then it's their beer so who am I to question their styles.

just a little more body would make this a more pleasing beverage, without slowing me down much on the consumption end. Light body, low carb, pretty clean on the finish.

I bought this by accident because I was trying to refill my stock of Dark Island and this similar looking bottle was grabbed by mistake. Though it is not nearly the equal of Dark Island, it's a mistake I'll be happy to revisit again.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Dark reddish brown with about a fingers worth of off white head. Settles to a thick ring with wonder lacing all the way to the bottom of the glass.

S: I'm getting sweet malt with some floral/piny hops and maybe a little caramel.

T: Quick hit of sweet malt, then the floral hops really takes over... there is a hint of caramel and some nuttiness, but the bitter hops really takes over. Aftertaste is a little on the bitter side.

M: Light to medium bodied, crisp with a modest amount of carbonation.

D: Pretty interesting beer, a little more hoppy than I was expecting. It is a beautiful and interesting brew with a pretty low ABV. One was enough for me.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber with ruby highlights and a small head.
Nose shows sweet, spicy fruitcake with extra helpings of all manner of dry fruit. And some added cognac and marmalade for good measure. Intensely fruity. Also some toasted sweet malt pokes it's head out later. Damn that's good.
Similar flavours but with more caramel and dough malt, along with a decent helping of earthy, resinous hops. Finishes slightly watery though.
Body is a little thing, I'd like something more syrup to go with those rich flavours.

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Photo of Parrotbeak
3.57/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ruby with an orange hue, and a thin white head that fades quickly, becoming patchy. Little bit of lacing.
Smell is slightly roasted, musty malts and barley, with some cinnamon and toffee notes. Malts become slightly buttery towards the end.
Taste is roasty, slightly buttery malts. Light ntoes of fat free caramel, as well as some toffee. Bready, faintly crackery malts at the finish. Little bit of bitterness as the finish as well.
Mouthfeel is fairly crisp and dry at the finish. Medium-light body.
Drinkability is good. Nothing too exciting about this one, but easy enough to drink.

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Photo of lou50rp
4.63/5  rDev +22.2%
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.

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Photo of mithrascruor
4.21/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear red color with rocky off-white head. Excellent retention and good lacing.

Smell: Has a somewhat earthy malt aroma with a hint of sweetness.

Taste: Tasty with a nice balance of malts and hops. Slightly sweet malts with a bit of butter, paired against some mild hops.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, yet with a bit of butteryness following it. Medium-bodied with mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Quite drinkable with a strong (yet not overwhelming) flavor and low ABV.

Not exactly what I'd consider a Scottish Ale, but definitely an enjoyable one. I first had the pleasure of enjoying this on Orkney, and was glad to get a bottle here in the states!

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Photo of seanyfo
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

50cl bottle poured into a shaker pint glass.

A- Ruby red body with a creamy 2.5 finger tan head that reduces to 1 finger/crown after some time, lacing is good.

S- Caramel toasted malts, hop bitterness (neither floral or citrussy, but hoppy ;))

T- Toasted malts come through first with a sweetness of toffee, finishing in a not overly bittter hop bite but still overly noticeable for the style

M- Medium body with low carbonation

D- Certainly tasty and balanced well, hops are more noticeable than expected for the style. Nevertheless tasty enough for a session, a solid ale without complexity.

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The Red MacGregor from Orkney Brewery
3.79 out of 5 based on 233 ratings.
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