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 wl0307
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Revisiting the bottle version of Red MacGregor. This bottle comes at just 4%abv. - maybe due to a change of recipe? BB JAN 10, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: clear copperish hue, topped with a well-lasting dark beige froth that leaves tight lacing behind, on top of mild/moderate carbonation.
S: sweet orange, cherry+longan-fruits, creamy toffee-ish and brown-sugary malts, a touch of raisins, and lots of floral scent of hops... somehow, very sweet and dense in terms of the aromatic mixture of hoppiness and malts.
T: the sour-sweet juicy swallow of autumn-fruits is fast ensued by an utterly dry, roast tea-leafy bitterness on top of caramely+smoked-nutty malts... turning really chewy and bitter in the aftertaste with a dry-ish malty palate (as of well-toasted malts) as well as a touch of sweet coffee, while the fruity undertone reminiscent of dried longan-fruits, raisins, dried plums, and more dark tea-leaves lingers beautifully, consistently underlined by a mild sour edge. Brilliant aftertaste.
M&D: the mouthfeel could've been smoother if given a little less fizziness, while all in all the body retains pretty well throughout the drink. Despite being slightly too sweet on the aroma, the flavour presents a rather balanced performance and makes it really really quaffable as a well-hopped and very bitter fruity ale.

* Tasting Date: 16/02/06

500ml brown bottle, BB JUL 06. Served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.
4 A: dark reddish brown hue; effervescent, rocky and frothy off-white head slowly settling to a 0.5-1cm thick cap with very good retention; constantly fizzy body.
4 S: slightly apple-ish fragrant fruitiness upfront, on top of a more settled and rounded scent mixed of coffee-syrup, hazelnut, creme-caramel's caramelised sugary top and its creamy note.
3.5 T: lightly dryish smoked nutty+malty palate upfront, followed by a touch of lovely sour-sweet edge of a cup of herbal tea infused with a wedge of lemon; lightly tangy/tannic fruity and herbal flavour gradually prevails along with a lingering, dryish aftertaste of caramel maltiness and an interestingly crisp clean finish.
3.5 M&3.5 D: a ve...ry dry and mildly bitter-fruity ale it is, backed by the microscopic fizzy mouthfeel; the dryish edge makes this beer definitely a thirst quencher, while the residual nutty aftertaste provides a kick-back of maltiness in the very end. Pretty solid, albeit not as much exciting~~

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Photo of dnichols
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was served from a 500 ml bottle.

A: It poured a rich, dark, and red body with a white head. The head was slender and receded quickly and supported a leggy thin lacing.

S: It had aromas of floral hops, as well as smokey and earthy peat. There were notes of caramel and sweet malts.

T: It had a nice sweet and nutty flavor with floral hops and a creamy peaty undercurrent.

M: It was a light to medium bodied beer with modest carbonation and a lingering sweet malty aftertaste.

D: It is an interesting and tasteful brew that may be to sweet for a session beer. However, it is a fine ale that deserves serious consideration.

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Photo of pinotboy007
2.95/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Auburn with a decent cap that descends quickly and leaves some spotty lace. No visible carbonation.

S - Peat, tea, leather.

T/M - Peat, leather, raw honey, a touch of bitter hops. Very light carbonation but it comes across as diluted.

D - Nothing worth seeking out - perhaps it's better from the cask in the UK but I think it suffers on the trip across the drink.

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Photo of TheMistler
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A pretty bubbly beer with a slightly off-white head. Lasts a little while but doesn't particularly cling, and isn't lacy. The ale itself is an attractive dark amber.

A crisper beer than - I think - the fruity-toffee quality of the nose would indicate. Nevertheless, the taste has clear malt qualities. Good balance. It finishes pretty clean, but with slight amount of floral hops left on the palate.

Certainly not knock-your-socks off good, but an eminently drinkable red, scotch ale that I have grown pretty darn fond of.

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Photo of poetaster
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby red--very nice color. Solid quarter-inch head lasted a few minutes. Wonderful floral fragrance, but the taste, at first, seemed a little thin. I think it was too cold--my bad. The bottle says "the cask conditioned version of this beer was the first Scottish beer to win the BHA world Cask Beer Gold Medal." As it warmed, I could see it would be an excellent cask ale, with refreshing spicy-bitter hoppiness that complements the dry malt flavors very well. A great session beer with real body and definite Scottish character.

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Photo of Yesac
3.44/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A -I'm not to iimpressed with the appearance. Poured brown/deep copper. No head.

S - The smell is excellent. Dark roasted hops with yeast presence.

T - woody/earthy, sweet malts. Some type of underlying fruits add sweetness. Great balance.

M - The mouthfeel is excellent, the carbonation doesn't seem present to the eye, but the what it does to the palate is amazing. Very clean feeling that leaves the hops clinging with taste provoking another sip. Quality brew here.

D - Low ABV, and palate feel makes this a great sessional with a red ale type taste.

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Photo of charlzm
3.61/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed on 3/28/08.

Pours dark amber/brown with a remarkable creamy head that lasted to the bottom of the glass. For me, this was over thirty minutes!

Aroma is crisp, beery. (Think of the beer smeel that greets you when you walk into a bar where it has gotten into the carpet and woodwork through years of spillage).

Mouthfeel is as creamy as the head. Green apple Bass Ale thing going on at first blush on the palate. Malt becomes apparent in aftertaste. In fact, I'd say that a maltier Bass is an apt description. No bitterness at all and a tad watery. Some spice (black pepper) appears eventually at the end.

A surprisingly light Scotch Ale.

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Photo of brendan13
3.82/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into a pint glass a very dark red colour, verging on brown. A centimetre or so of white head that falls away rather quickly.
S - There is some over ripe dark fruit notes and caramel malt is pretty prevalent. Some vauge smokey notes come and go.
T - The dark fruit comes through in the taste as well but also has a bit more maltiness, biscuity and roasty - my favourite malt characters.
M - Medium to full bodied with a fairly low carbonation.
D - Not something for everyday drinking but an interesting every now and then beer for sure. Well worth a try.

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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.


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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown that is clear and shows some firm ruby tints to it when held to light. Nice crème head. Nose is nice levels of wood. Flavor is bitter but also has a unique earthy/woody tone to it. Lots of malts on there too. Feel has a good carbonation that gives a slight bite to it. Liquid is well bodied. A good drinker. Nice body, even and interesting flavor. Won't go down as the greatest ever of the style, but still good enough to give a try.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of pumarocks
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I think the description of this beer is incorrect in the profile screen. This is a Scotish Ale not English Pale ale. Just worth mentioning. Now, on with the review...

This is a malty red ale with toasted-biscuity notes and a very good head. Lacing was nice. Very smooth, easy drinker this one is. I really dig the bottle artwork! That is a heck of a way to market this wonderful adult beverage. Will buy again and use the bottle as a decorative vase for the 'ole lady's flowers!

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Photo of kmo1030
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

deep ruby brown amber with a thick frothy light tan head. nice lacing.
the smell is made up of toffee, biscuity carmel, some rather perfumy floral qualities, and cherry fruit aromas. these are noted on the bottle and nail it pretty dead on.
the taste brings some lightly peat smoked malts, biscuity caramel/toffee malts, a little bit of almost noble tasting hops. dark fruits pervade.
smoth fuller medium body with delicate but active carbonation.
great drinkability, i'm really surprised this doesn't sport a higher score, it's a very well crafted scottish ale. i wish i had picked up a few more.

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Photo of oelergud
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep translucent ruby mahogany body with a tan creamy and rocky head. Great retention and beautiful lace.
Subdued malty nose slightly fruity and a mild presence of piney hops. Earthy and soft.
Well balanced earthy flavor, somewhat sweet but mostly a soft harshness of hops and pine. Pleasantly sweet and citric aftertaste followed by a hard hop front.
Medium body with some coating and a dry finish.
Good drinkability, pleasant and easy.


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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 barefootbrewer
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a brown color with a ruby hue. It had about ½” retentive head with light lacing. The aroma is floral and hoppy with malt noticeable in the background. The taste is malty and spicy. It has a nice flavor blend that isn’t overpowering. The mouthfeel was a bit thinner than I would have hoped. Overall, this beer goes down smooth and would easily lend itself to sessions.

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Photo of charlatan
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle with fine label depicting a fiery sea illuminated by the setting sun and (alas) indicating 4.0% abv rather than the 5.0% listed above.

Pleasant looking tan to red hued beer with a significant head which oddly seemed to dissipate somewhat before making a comeback! The nose is interesting: a gooseberry v raisin clash between hops and malt. With a very faint smokiness.

Yet it is the smoky, almost peppery malt which dominates the flavour here. This is very much a savoury beer despite the early burst of carbonation and a spell of stoutlike creaminess (there seem to be two tiers in my mouth at one point with the cream on top and bubbles underneath), with the toasted malt taking charge while a fint bitterness hums away in the background.

This certainly doesn't seem like an English Pale Ale, but I'd recommend it nonetheless.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out to a very clear medium amber with red accents, forming a modest light yellow head with average retention and lacing. Carbonation is moderate to mild. The aroma reminds me of Eliot Ness...that roasty, sweet, nutty, toasty ale nose...very clean ferment with some nice fruity ale esters. Mouthfeel is crisp and medium-light bodied with a sparkingly bright finish. The taste is as the aroma would suggest...opens with some herbal hops, leads into nuts and toasty with some roasted barley, followed by some grainy astringency in the middle, a mild earthy bitternes, and a finish of light tobacco and toast. Not as sweet and big as I would hope, but hey, this is only 5%, so it's meant to be a sessioner. Faint suggestion of metals in the aftertaste. No peat.

A pretty good beer, but as far as Scotch Ales go, a little light in body, mouthfeel, and malt heft.

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Photo of Minkybut
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'll guess this gets a 4! Poured from a bottle at 50 degrees to a tumbler. For a pale ale this beer is not pale. It is a deep dark brown color with a nice tan head that decayed pretty soon. The beer had great lacing though. Smell was slightyly hoppy and soo was taste. Malty also and a little sweet. Tiny bit hoppy but just about right. I really liked the beer and will buy it again.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to an amber red with medium off-white head that stuck around through mid-glass and left good lacing. Aroma was roasted nuts, though not real dominant, and flavor was more of the same. Finish was dry and slightly sweet, although not real long. A decent beer, but not Orkney’s best., as I failed to find the "bitter" in this ESB.

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Photo of jettjon
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presented in a 500ml bottle, no freshness date noted. Decanted into the wine goblet, it pours a brownish ruby red with tiny bubbles beneath a one-finger brown-tan head. Nice slow fade down to a craggy cap with lots of sticky lacing. Nose is nice, heavy, sweet malt, a bit perfumy. Tastes warm in the mouth with mild malt character and slight bitterness. Nicely balanced. Slightly spicy/peppery. A pleasingly complex brew. Finishes on a dry, peat/dirt finish which I enjoyed but might take some getting used to. Mouth is viscous and semi-creamy with light carbonation; smooth overall. Drinkability is excellent; this is a mellow and quite tasty beer, suitable for enjoyment with some good red meat.

Overall: A great ale, very well balanced and enjoyable. Recommended.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As far as English Pale Ales are concerned, I really liked this beer. It has the maltiness of an amber (caramel, toffee), with the hopping rate of a Bitter, and the cleanliness of an ESB. With that, I'm surprised this beer doesn't rate higher. The look is a rusty, sly-of-clear, densly headed appearence with nice low-key carbonation. Aromas of solid malts (barley malt, caramel, and sweet breads). Fruitiness is less than the malty sweetness, but shows in the forms of red apples, figs, and dates. The flavors closely reinforce what is experienced in the nose; with emphasis on the malts and earthy hop flavor. A mild nutty flavor increases as the beer progresses. The feel is a rich and full malt feel with creaminess (carbonation) and an unwavering firmness. Finishes quite clean without any abrupt vaporation, graininess, or bite. Overall, this was a very good beer. No flavors that knocked my socks off, but a solid Scottish brew that offers the best characters of that region. I will certainly have more of these in the future.

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Photo of dstc
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark ruby color with tan head that seemed to last through most of the beer with a fair amount of lacing left behind.

S: Smells like it should be fairly strong with earthy hoppy characteristics.

T: Pretty good. I like this beer but it has a strong bitter aftertaste.

M: Light, a little watery and good carbonation.

D: This is a fairly decent beer. While I enjoy drinking it the bitterness is something I have a hard time with, that's just my taste.

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Photo of aleyeast
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Red amber in color with a thin light tan head that holds

Malty Fruity and slight hop edge on the nose, but everything is slight, very clean though and if I had to pick one, it would be light malt

Malt, caramel flavors, very slight smoke perception, may just be roast, hops just to balance, but this is definitely smooth. Would probably be very good on tap.

Very balanced.

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