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Copper John Scotch Ale | Madison River Brewing Company

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Copper John Scotch AleCopper John Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Madison River Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This is a Scottish ale like no other. The brewers use the finest smoked malt for flavor complexity and then combine it with roasted barley, and caramel malts for a rich distinctive and smoky flavor. These ingredients give it a deep, dark color with a smooth, rich finish that is surprisingly drinkable.

19 IBU

Added by Todd on 03-01-2005

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Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 87
Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
4.34/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours a red brown with a somewhat watery consistency. A little off white head soon falls back into the glass.

The beer smells or peat and smoke with a hint of chocolate and molasses.

The tastes sweet and warm with a hint of bitter burnt and smoke.

The mouthfeel is somewhat watery.

Overall I am very impressed by this beer. It tastes and smells delicious and really is a good example of a scotish ale. The only place that this beer is lacking is in the mouthfeel.It would be nice if it were a little more chewy like scotish ale should be.

I would have this beer again and recommend it to a friend.

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Photo of Brandt
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer pours a nice clean caramel brown color with a small amount of white head

the smell here is all of malts and give hints of caramel, as well as some more toasty german tasting malts. well balanced between toasty and sweet.

the flavors in this beer are of toasted malts and a touch of a nearly smoke like character as well as some caramely sweetness that follows a minimal bitterness down the hatch

this one finishes great, a realy drinkable beer that leaves a nice bit of sweetness on the tongue and leaves you wanting another sip.

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Photo of DAllspaw
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from bottle while in MT on vacation. This review is a week old so details limited.

A very solid Scotch ale in every respect, good caramel taste with a hint of coffee. Not quite on par with Robert the Bruce or Founders Dirty Bastard but is definitely worth buying if in Montana.

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Photo of blackie
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

the name might be misleading - seems to fall more within the scottish ale style

a: deep amber in color, light layer of carbonation

s: husky toffee grain, peaty but with no smoke, dark bread crust, nutty, well rounded all around but the malt stands out, balanced with a mild hop side, earthy

m: carbonation on the light side, medium body

t: a mostly malty flavor, but not thick or heavy, toasty grains with some sweet toffee sugars, a touch peaty and nutty, dark breads, little hop flavor and a mild-moderate bitterness

d: sessionable...a simple, well crafted scottish - not bad for a shot-in-the-dark purchase

picked up a 6 on special at the Albertson's Liquor Store in Jackson, WY

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.08/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Seems opaque and almost black at first, but a deep and dark but clear mahogany red in the light, afloat with a tannish, delicate head of moderate retention. A boquet of caramel and toasted malt. Taste is much more complex. Smoke "bitterness" is intense but pleasant, well balanced with malt sweetness. These evenly increase and then fade as it lingers and finishes. Woody or earthy throughout. Very warming and smooth. A thickish brew with carbonated prickling that accentuates rather than simply masks the flavors. This is the kind of beer that someone who swears by Guinness could easily pick as a new favorite.

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Photo of archyquaffer
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A moderate pour from a longneck into a short tasting glass yields about a half inch of off-white head that leaves sticky rings as the glass is emptied. The beer is a rich, medium dark copper-brown with low carbonation.

The aroma is very subtle, but is malt forward and suggestive of the dark sugar and fruit flavors within. This really is a lovely malt bomb, with suggestions of caramel, plums, dark cherries, nuts…maybe a touch of honey in there somewhere. The mouth feel is creamy and makes you almost want to chew it but the body really isn’t heavy at all. Despite the perceived sweetness, the finish is crisp and bitter enough from the earthy hop notes that repeated sips are encouraged.

This was a pleasant surprise. It appeals to my sweet tooth yet is light bodied and crisp enough to make it a reasonable session beer. It reminds me of certain brown ales that are becoming harder to find on store shelves.

On a whim I added about 7 ounces of this beer to some chili I was making. Right away, it left a highly detectable malt quality and helped to bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes, etc- so much so that I immediately added some more chili powder and cayenne. The chili ended up good and spicy but with an underlying sweetness from the malt, tomatoes, etc.

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Photo of bagpiper2005
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour: Dark reddish-brown in color. One finger of off-white head that dissipated quickly an left no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Caramel and brown sugar dominate the aroma. Light hint of smoke as well.

Taste: This one is on the sweeter end of the spectrum of Scotch Ales. Flavor primarily consists of caramel, toffee, an a bit of burnt sugar. Touch of peaty smoke at the end. Pretty good.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin for the style. Average amount of carbonation. Smooth.

Drinkability/Overall: A simple Scotch Ale that's not just overbearing. Great session beer.

Final Notes: A good, inexpensive Scotch Ale. Not super impressive but a good beer nonetheless. Deliciously sweet and slightly smoky, I can see plopping some vanilla ice cream on top of it and making a float with it. Also a good introduction to the style.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

355ml bottle poured into tulip 13/3/12

A hazy dark amber with a thumbs width of light tan head has decent retention and leaves a bunch of polka dot lacing

S fruity nut bar with some raisins and toffee, straight forward but quite nice

T mimics the smell with a little cola and some earthy woody tones, again I thought it was pretty good

M a little thin and flat but not too bad, just a little heat but its mild, this would be an area for improvement

O pretty solid stuff but not mind blowing, not the smokey beer I expected from reading the bottle

decent stuff with well concealed booze, I thought the feel was average but pretty solid in other areas

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Photo of 81tillinfinity
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color of black coffee with faint wafts of roasted malts and candy sweetness. Taste grows on you. A little sweet toffee a bit of smoke but not over whelming. A bit of bitterness here which would set it apart from other scotch ales which tend to be rich and sweet. Pretty good beer glad I was able to try it.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, from a grocery in Helena a few months ago.

This beer pours a clear, dark red brick hue, with a single skinny finger of fizzy pale beige head, which disappears in an instant, leaving but a low ring of remnant 'lace' around the glass. It smells of caramel, toffee, singed brown sugar, and leafy, earthy hops. The taste is sweet caramelized malt, a bit of peat - more bog than smoke - and lightly bittering earthy hops. The carbonation is on the low side, the body a solid medium weight, and quite smooth. It finishes still pretty sweet, bread-like, but with a balancing effort put forth by the understated hops.

A decent enough scotch ale, the expected (and unspecified) upped ABV is nowhere to be found - I guess I'd have to have a few more of these to really find out...

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Photo of beartooth91
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Scotch ales are my favorite beer style. And this one is the only Scotch ale you can find in Billings, Montana.
It has the characteristic malty taste typical of the style with just a small amount of sweetness. Its noticeably smoother and more rounded then a typical Scotch Ale. And pretty well balanced.
While its a knotch below Skull Splitter (my favorite), Traquair House, or McEwan's; this is a pretty good Scotch Ale.

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Photo of leaddog
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a hazelnut brown with a finger width of creamy off white head.

Smell- Caramalts, plum/cherry, woodsy aromas.

Taste- The caramalts come in intially then plum/cherry come right after. There is a slight woodsy characteristic.
Finishes dry and sweet.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. There is a nice smoothness to the body.

Overall- A solid Scotch Ale that is pretty drinkable. Not as smoky as I would have thought (based on the description) but still a solid offering. Worth a try.

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Photo of Tschnab
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- dark red color with a thin film of active carbonation and wispy head.

S- carmel and toffee, malt, peat, subtle smoke, whisky, grass.

T- starts out a bready sweetness with a kiss of malt, the peat and smoke comes through, and it finishes with light hoppy and grassy notes. Goes down very smooth.

O- A very tasty scotch ale, a little light in carbonation but still very good overall.

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Photo of Tone
3.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy, dark copper color. 1/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight alcohol, slight caramel malt, slight sugar, slight yeast, and a hint of roasted malt. Fits the style of a Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with a low carbonation level. Tastes of strong sweet malt, hint of roasted malt, slight caramel malt, hint of alcohol, and slight yeast. Overall, good body, aroma, and feel, but cloying as well.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle picked up at the Albertsons in Lewistown MT.. had a bunch of these with Brenda's brother.. Brad never drinks anything but macros.. but I think I got him thinking on this trip... he's actively seeking out Pig's Ass Porter and Sierra Nevada Stout.. This one last bottle is poured into a glass that sorta resembles a pint glass at Brenda's parents' house.

2" lite tan head.. The brew is a dark chestnut color.. perfectly clear with great lacing and a good cap.

Aroma is a deep maltiness with a touch of kettle caramel .. the peat malt is muted by the malts... some complexity is lacking.

The peat is alot more prevalent in the flavor.. caramel malts and fleeting notes of toffee.. a little nutty in the middle.. but I'm honestly searching on this one.. it seems a little flimsy.. the "peat smoke" seems about right, but I don't think there are enough proper Wee Heavy flavors there to make this one something I would probably buy again sometime soon... sorta like a beginners Scotch ale.

Despite my above negatives.. this is a pretty descent brew.. just don't go looking for the knockout.. I am drinking this one very fresh.. and would recommend it for sure.. just not to any of my beer geek buddies.

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

poured from the bottle into a tulip glass

A - Pours a gorgeous, semi-transparent amber brown with a constant stream of bubbles rising to a rocky, towering 4-finger head.

S - A nose is greeted by the pleasant scent of sweet caramel malt and brown sugar upon opening the bottle with faint green tea-leaf hops lingering in the background. Head stays mostly intact until the bottom of the glass. Leaves behind several large splotches of lacing on the top and bottom of the glass.

T - Caramel malt upfront. The body is a decent blend of caramel malt and lightly floral hops, but lacks the strength and complexity required for a Wee Heavy. A flash of caramel and hops as the beer passes over the back of the tongue provides a welcome flavor increase, but quickly subsides to a slightly bitter caramel and tea-leaf finish.

M - Medium bodied with a too much carbonation to meld with the rather weak flavor profile. The beer expands in the mouth, but this only amplifies the flavor deficiency

Copper John is a solid attempt at a Scottish Ale from a rather obscure brewery in Montana. Although there is nothing offensive about this beer, the flavor isn't rich and bold enough to make me lament not having this readily available. Still, if you're camping in Yellowstone or fishing in Montana, it is worth trying. I would buy a bottle or two again if I spent another couple weeks doing research out there.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

i really dug this montana beauty, a rich silky feeling slightly smoky scotch ale, with just the right amount of sweetness in it. deep amber in color without much head, but all the beers at this pub were pouring a little flat, maybe an in house issue rather than a descriptor of this particular brew. the nose is musty and damp smelling, autumnal for sure, with a round molasses sweetness and a hint of campfire or charcoal grill smell to it too. the flavor is similar to the smell, with the almost maple sweetness running all the way through to a smoked finish. highly refined this one, and really smooth feeling. i like the well hidden abv and the drinkability overall. carbonation is a little light, and maybe the body is a touch thin for the style, but the flavor profile is excellent overall. these guys have some cool beers out there, this is one of their best.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.69/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich, dark red-brown hue with a haze-free body and a light effervescence. Head is half a finger of creamy tan foam. Attractive, and quite appropriate for the style.

Smell: very rich caramel aroma with lots of sweetness and maltiness. There's more biscuity character than I care for, but it's largely quite good.

Taste: biscuity and bready right off the top, with a fair dose of caramel character as well. Bitterness is light with little to no hop flavor. Well-crafted and stylistically within bounds, but perhaps not my favorite.

Mouthfeel: medium-rich body with a good level of carbonation. There's a velvety soft creaminess here which I love.

Overall: this beer is stylistically very good and definitely worth a try for enthusiasts. On the scale of wee heavy flavors, though, it edges more toward biscuity, which is not my personal favorite.

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Photo of lunchbox1004
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pub glass. The beer was dark amber/brown in color with light beige/cream. after pouring head was about 1/2 inch which settled to about 1/8 inch after a while. also nice lacing around the glass. The smell was sweet and malty with tiny hints of the hops, which were slightly planty in aroma. the Mouthfeel was pleasant, the carbonation dancing on the tip of the tongue while it was creamy towards the back, which as aided by the head. The creaminess also carried over in the taste which was a sweetly roasted caramel flavor, balanced by the green bite of the hops.

Being a fan of darker beers, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. This ale has great versatility in coupling with meals. I found it to be heavy enough for a hearty steak dinner, but also light enough for a sandwich lunch. If I had any real criticism for this beer, it be to slightly increase the amount of hops used as it was a bit sweet. Other than that, it was excellent. If you haven't had it, I strongly recommend it.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.61/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – As the name would suggest, the beer pours a deep copper-mahogany color with a billowy one finger head of off white foam. The head fades rather quickly leaving only a trace level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma of the brew is heaviest of a sweet caramel and molasses smells with other aromas of some darker fruits of cherry, plum, and raisin. Other aromas of a toasted bread and a little bit of brown sugar and oak are there as well mixing with a bit of a boozy smell to produce a rather nice warming aroma overall.

Taste – The taste starts with a toasted malt flavor along with some big flavors of brown sugar, and caramel as well as some darker fruit flavors of fig and plum. As the taste advances, more fruit flavors come at the expense of the sugary flavors, with cherry joining the fig and plum. A little bit of an oaky and woody flavor comes to the tongue more toward the end, and with the other flavors and a hint of boozy scotch alcohol joining the tongue, one is left with a somewhat drier then would have been expected, but still more sweet and malty scotch flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average side in its thickness and chewiness with a carbonation level that is on the average to slightly higher side. A slightly thicker body and lower carbonation would have likely been a bit better overall for the brew, accentuating better the malt and scotch flavors of the brew slightly better.

Overall – A fairly decent scotch ale overall, but nothing too extra ordinary. A nice one to try and a rather decent winter style sipper.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.59/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours cola brown with a khaki half finger's worth of head. Sub-par retention, fizzing away to a near barren surface with a broken island of suds in the center.

Smell - Nice aroma, with caramel met by an undertone of smokiness. Faint cocoa.

Taste - Follows the nose. Moderate caramel and just a touch of chocolate met by a fair smokiness that comes in near the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with a lively amount of carbonation. Smooth, slick delivery with a wet finish.

Overall - Decent scotch ale. Nothing off-putting, but doesn't quite have the depth in flavor that the better examples of the style show. That said, it's damn easy to drink, so I'll have no problem killing the sixer, even if it's a no thinker drinker.

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Photo of ChrisCage
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From Notes Jan '15.....

A- Pours a coppery brown with reddish hues and is yeast hazed. The head is off white with a most excellent of retentions.....a thick meringue like texture! The lacing is modest with small patches sticking to the side of the glass. Hard to tell how finely carbonated this one is.

S- Upfront there is plenty of sweet malts that are rich and deep. Other aromas are of caramel/molasses, yeasty biscuit, toffee a hint of milky chocolate and a tinge of booze pokes through. The finishing smells are of mild hop bitterness but it does linger in the air slightly.

T- This is surprisingly clean and refreshing! Citrus like tang balances the sweet malt richness....also detecting some piney and/or cedar bark like flavors. Overall the rich sweet flavors are balanced by some interesting tartness. I don't taste any bitterness on the finish and the general flavor does not linger on the palate either.

M/O- Nice fine carbonation allows the well balanced flavors to hit the palate, coat and then clean all at the same time. This medium bodied brew would be very nice on a hot day surprisingly and while it's good, it's not my favorite version of the style and is drinkable. I would probably buy this again when in Montana, as I think it has potential to go well with a spicier dish.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from a gifted "beer of the month" club, poured into a tulip glass. Only my second Madison River Brewing Company beer.

A: Medium to dark copper body with some reddish hues in the light. Thick, bubbly off-white head with big bubbles sticking around the edges and along the surface. Minor sticky lacing around the glass. Not bad at all.

S: Light smokey notes, cured honey roasted meats, toasted caramel and dark malts. Touches of sweetness and just a hint of bitterness show up towards the end of the nose. It has a very 'meaty' aroma overall.

T: Smoke is up front again with a sweetness to it. Again, it tastes like a honey smoked pork flavor but it works really well. A nice variety of malts are showcased on the back end, sweet and dry in nature. Toasted barley and nuts in the finish.

M: Thin and somewhat watery, unfortunately. Fairly bubbly albeit somewhat creamy.

I like how another reviewer put it; this is a beginner Scotch Ale. There's nothing offensive or aggressive about this beer. It has the smokiness, maltiness and flavors of a basic Scotch Ale without being overdone. A nice introduction to the style.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

In the beer of the month club, the other from this brewery was a dud, hoping for better.

App- Brown with amber highlights. Minimal head. Thin ring. Minimal lacing. Quite clear.

Smell- Sweet, malty, definitely some caramel. Brown sugar. Some toffe as well.

Taste- Sweet, caramel and toffee. The toffee lingers on the sweet, slightly burnt finish. Plum? Perhaps. Malty. A little thin? The taste mellows very quickly, sort of dissipates. A small roastiness or smoke lingers.

Mouthfeel- Decidedly thin.

Overall- A nice, sweet and malty beer. Sort of reminds me of a doublebock, or another smooth malty lager. But I like it overall.

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Photo of ZenAgnostic
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into Trois Pistoles snifter. No date found on bottle.

Appearance - High-medium dark brown body. One finger offwhite head with decent retention.

Smell - Slightly sweet. Plum. Fades away into

Taste - More mouthfeel than flavor. Getting a little bit of banana and coffee. Alcohol is preetty present. Somewhat watery.

Mouthfeel - Smooth. Creamy. Acidic. slightly astringent finish.

Drinkability - The Bud Light of Scotch Ales, in terms of it not being very challenging. Very entry level.

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Copper John Scotch Ale from Madison River Brewing Company
3.71 out of 5 based on 87 ratings.
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