Scotty Karate Scotch Ale | Dark Horse Brewing Company

very good
596 Reviews
Scotty Karate Scotch AleScotty Karate Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.75%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Available September to March.

Added by ypsifly on 01-28-2006

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 596 | Ratings: 1,791
Photo of gordavidson
2.68/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A- Dark brown in color, almost murky with some floaters drifting about in the thick looking liquid. The head is small and white and settles to a semi-top covering sheet.

S- Well... this smells like booze. Once I got past the nostril burn, I picked up some caramel, cinnamon, and earthy malted milk balls. This would be spectacular if I could get past the alcohol wall.

T- The alcohol is very noticeable at first, and takes some getting used to. The rest of the flavors are carmely, peaty, smoky, chocolaty, and hints of cinnamon to boot. I was really torn with this... The booze is very distracting, but the other flavors are complex and somewhat tasty. It got better as I worked my way through it.

M- A little thin and slightly harsh in the aftertaste. I can't believe for a beer this dark and heavy it can't hide the 9.75%. Overall it is surprisingly smooth though.

D- Damn. I had high hopes for this, but the alcohol is a beast. I don't foresee myself getting this harsh mistress again.

 993 characters

Photo of Jason
4.34/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours off with a slightly syrupy look to it, thin but dense tiny bubble lace puts up a fight to stay alive. Be careful of the chunks of sediment at the bottom. Clear dark chestnut color. Smells of a freshly opened can of brown bread, bread crust and a faint animal feed maltiness. Hint of alcohol way back in the nose. Very creamy with a full body and light smoothness, just enough carbonation to get by and pick the beer up. Happy happy, joy joy ... what a malt bomb this is. Creamy bready malt flavor throughout, not overly sweet with a hint of caramel and bread crust. The is a minute vague fruitiness, all in all its hard to pinpoint which leads to a very clean alcohol and clean palate. Finishes malty sweet. And to think this coming in at 9.75% abv.

Very impressive, the cleanest Scotch Ale I have ever run into and dangerously drinkable.

 845 characters

Photo of tmitch75
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Newly available in Chicago (I've been waiting for this brewery for quite some time). Purchased in a four-pack at Binny's in Buffalo Grove.

Pours a beautiful brown color with a little burnt orange glow under the light.

Sweet and roasty smell. It also smells thick.

Tastes caramelly with a roasty and peaty flavor. Tastes delicious.

Thick, full body. Almost like a milkshake. Excellent mouthfeel.

This is an awesome beer. I love the style and this beer is everything I love about it. Simply a great beer.

Tasted on 2/25/08.

 527 characters

Photo of blakesell
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at Gravity Head '08 in New Albany, IN. Poured from the tap handle into a 10oz glass.

Appearance- Beer pours maple syrup dark with no real head at all. Clear with slight bubbles on the sides. Some clear oil slick coating over the top. I have no idea what that is.

Smell- Smokey and thick with malt. No hops. Peppery, cinnamon sugar and maple. What the hell? This thing smells funny, not like a scotch ale at all, just funny. Earthy and peaty as well, so I guess it has some scotch ale traits, but not like would be expected with all these other flavours in here.

Taste- Pepper comes through on into the taste. Malty and thick just like the nose suggested. A slight sourness that is entirely welcome to me. Smokiness and peat malt comes through on the swallow.

Mouthfeel- Not as thick as would be expected. I wonder if that strange oil slick over the top has something to do with that. Oily, medium bodied and not highly carbonated.

Drinkability- Good drinkability, not warming, smooth and unique. Another all day pounding delicious animal of a beer.

 1,061 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Rich O's Gravity Head '08:

As fine a Scottish Ale as I've ever tried. Strong and steady on all fronts. Sweet and peaty with herbal hop character and a complex malt meaty character. The texture is a bit less syrupy than big malty Scottish Ales, but sweetened more and makes it more drinkable. A little cleaner in the flavor than most, and less dirty or smoky. The 9%+ alcohol is hardly noticed, hidden well. A stern copper / ruby hue with fair coabonation / head retention. Spicy and sweet throughout. Deserving of better scores than most BA's have given.

 565 characters

Photo of drpimento
3.46/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

overall a pretty damn good pow beer. Except for the initial quick flash of a weird flavor itsa superb scotch ale. Nice small head with good lace. Hazy dark brown almost opaque color. Peatish characteristics. Hints of booze. No hop. Estery malty finish. Rich body.

 263 characters

Photo of Slynger
3.32/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cloudy mud puddle brown with an orange haze, and no real attempt at a cap.

Sweet caramel and toffee aroma. Musty, smoky and earthy as well.

Heavy and flat without much carbonation. The taste is much the same as the smell. Some sweet and bitter caramel and toffee. A light amount of funky sourness bridges the gap between sweetness and musty, smoky, earthy bitterness.

I was not too impressed with this one after my first bottle. I am kind of hoping it went bad somewhere down the line.

 488 characters

Photo of BMoney575
3.61/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled on 2-8-08

Pours a meaty and yeasty deep red/brown, with lots of little floaters. No head, no lacing.

Smell is big, sour fruit, apple cider, with a malty, peaty background. Very complex, very earthy. Outstanding.

Taste is super sweet, fruity, but with a huge peaty bitterness. Very dirty and very intense. The alcohol adds a slickness to the finish, which is woody and smoky.

Mouthfeel is different, almost no carbonation, very thick and viscous.

Drinkability is not so good, heavy sweetness and big alcohol.

Overall, the most intense Scotch ale I've had. Good, but only if you're in the mood.

 606 characters

Photo of ZAP
3.54/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Muddy brown...pours head...

S-Nice aroma...sweet dark fruits (plums, berries, bing cherries), a big earthy component, some cinnamon spicing, and just a hint of woody smoke..

T-Sweet with the dark fruits again leading the way....not a typical wee heavy flavor...there is no peatiness and just a mild hint of some woody be honest seems more of an ale version of a doppelbock....

M-Low carbonation makes this too drinkable...the ABV is nowhere to be found..

D-I wish this had a bit more carbonation...I don't mind it on the lower side but this is pretty flat...tasty but not memorable....good but not great....I'm glad I tried it and I enjoyed it but I am not making plans to seek out more of this...

 725 characters

Photo of CortexBomb
3.14/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pour is murky brown, almost like prune juice. No head to speak of. The nose offers up intense dark fruit aromas...plums, with caramel in the background. An alcohol edge and warming is present even on the nose.

Taste starts out with figs and caramel. Very malty. Off sugary. Slight earth flavour. Decent but not remarkable. Alcohol is fairly big on the finish.

The mouth on this, decent, but certainly not impressively thick for the style and ABV. Some tingles, but nothing special. The drinkability score reflects the my overall impression combined with my liklihood to rebuy and how it compares against other locals. It's a decent scotch ale, but it's just about the bottom of the heap for MI.

The bottom line: Dark Horse has some hits and some misses with me, and this is one of the misses. The beer is passable, but there are a number of other local options that I favour that are in the same price range (i.e.: Dirty Bastard, Arcadia Scotch Ale) and have more of what I'm looking for.

 991 characters

Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter glass a ruddy brown with an orange haze to it a thinner off white head atop.Earth and smoke show thru most in the nose along with some buttery caramel,a good mix of earthiness and peat and sweet caramel and fruit pretty nicely rounded.A good stab at a wee heavy decent complexities but it wont blow you mind.

 330 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.64/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No date. Purchased on 12/31

A - Poured out a brown hue with an orangish tint at the bottom of the glass. It had a small, short lived head that left no lace.

S - It smelled earthy and mossy. A good malty nose, too.

T - It tasted of a strong malt flavor. It was biscuity and had a slight spice kick.

M - It was sharp and smooth with a warm alcohol presence. A medium-bodied beer.

D - Don't know when this was retired, but it did lack a little in appearance. I guess I expected a little more overall, too.

 507 characters

Photo of baos
3.89/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz into Atlas mason jar.

A:Cloudy reddish dark amber Lots of stuff floating around with a weak one finger head that dissipates down to a tiny sheen of white. Some lacing.

S: Scorched caramel and vanilla rum. Pretty strong alcohol smell.

T: Caramelly hoppy goodness. Ends dry. Pretty good beer I'm sad its retired and I can't get anymore.

M: Not too bad maybe a bit light.

D: Drink away boys!

and girls

 410 characters

Photo of lightindarkness
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass

A - Deep hazy reddish brown with an off-white head that doesn't stick around. Consistent carbonation release.

S - Alcohol, caramelly malt, roasted nuts, not too much smell altogether.

T - Nutty on the tongue. Roasted cereal grains, slight caramel and earthiness at the finish. Some bitterness rises at the end as well. Grains come through as it warms, also becoming a bit sweeter. Not a lot to say about the taste overall, no syrupy thickness, not too much sticky sweetness, mostly balanced with stronger middle toned tastes than high or low end fullness.

M - Smooth, somewhat dense at the beginning, sticking a little in the mouth and finishing a bit lighter.

D - Pretty good. Lacks some depth of flavor, but a good beer.

 758 characters

Photo of enfield249
2.34/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Really pretty dark red. No head, small ring of foam.

S - A little roast, slight toffey.

T - Up front it's not bad at all, some good roastiness, then some alcohol, 'bout what I would expect for a wee heavy. However, the after taste is a wet cabbage. Not so good. Now that I see that this beer is retired, it makes me wonder how long it was at the store. Maybe it's been rereleased and I'm just to the first guy?

M - Not bad, some decent carbonation.

D - Thumbs down. Don't buy this. It may have been good at one point, but it's hard to tell now.

 552 characters

Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.28/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at MacNiven's in Indianapolis.

It is served in a snifter and pours a deep chocolate hue with slight ruby highlights and a minimal off-white head. The nose is a combination of sweet malt, caramel, dark fruits, and more than a touch of alcohol with no hops to speak of. The flavor profile is very sweet, almost cloying, combining flavors of caramel, toffee, dark fruit, and toasted malt. The sweetness is really overdone for my liking here. It is medium bodied and almost a little chewy on the palate. The alcohol warmth on this is not well hidden and is what I would consider "boozy," but the alcohol is quite high on this beer

 635 characters

Photo of tavernjef
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deepy cherrywood crossing into mahogany color with a murky glow. Slim, creamy, thick capping of sandy light brown sits and hardly moves from its place. Light, glazing lace in a slight crust of icing spottyness.

Aroma is of toasted malt with a sweet breadyness touch and tameness. Some slight toffee and cinnamon spice are noted. Some sweet warming heat begins to show as it sits a while and then takes over from there.

Taste is of paled, yet sweet sided toasted malt, breads, fluffy cookies, dark fruit notes of date and raisin, scantly peppered with blackberry, cherry, and currant. Lightly dryish into the finish as it goes with a very light fluff of cinnamon bread cake and maple drizzlings.

The feel is just below medium but carries a decent fluffy build of malty sweet character that slips in the effects of dark fruity skins cooked in cake. Semi warming and filling. Pushes the belly out with a late fulfilling warmth and toastyness.

Drinkably smooth, delicately rich in flavor and body, and subtle with a nice warming ascent. Pretty solid.

 1,051 characters

Photo of zdk9
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I believe this is my first taste of a wee heavy, so it'll be an interesting review.

A- Pours a dark and cloudy light mollasses color. Just a film of head and just a small pocadotting of lacing.

S- Carmel and a little more carmel. There's some hoppiness just in 'aftersmell', very earthy.

T- Carmel taste hits the forefront of my tongue, accompanied by brown sugar. There is some slightly citrusy hoppiness, with bitterness in the back of the tongue. Interesting but somewhat one-demensional.

M- Very syrupy, with just enough carbonation to cut through.

D- A decent beer, not something that I would prefer over other dark horse offerings, but maybe I'll change my mind after some more wee heavy examples.

 708 characters

Photo of Blakaeris
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep mahogany with amber highlights. Head is a slight ring.

Aroma is very smokey, peaty, caramel malt.

Taste is generous caramel malt up front. Sweet, brown sugar with orange notes and toffee. Finish has an amazing smokey quality along with a pleasant warming alcohol sensation.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and quite chewy.

A very flavorful and interesting brew. One of the best scottish ales I've had. Get this one. Very smooth, great caramel smokiness. High ABV is dangerously well hidden.

 501 characters

Photo of bashiba
4.59/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured dirty brown with copper highlights, slightly cloudy and a thin soap ring head.

Smell is great, a nice big malty sweet odor, almost desert like with hints of smoke, chocolate, and caramel.

Taste is great, big smoked malt flavor with hints of chocolate and caramel and a bit of earthy hops, a minor bit of noticeable alcohol.

Mouthfeel is thick and oily with a bit of a dry and warm finish.

Very drinkable for a 9.75ABV beer, Love it, The only thing I didn't like was the shockingly bad label, but I just won't look at it and put all of them in my fridge backwords.

 575 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks go out to hoppymeal for this one.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark, ruddy maroon colored beverage. One finger sized head that is mocha in color. Some nice retention that normally isnt seen in a Wee Heavy.

Aroma is chocolatey, with some coffee, toffee, and dark fruits. Very pleasing aroma. Alcoholic and fruity ester notes as well.

Chocolate and roasted malts. Wow. This is pretty tasty. Fruity and very malty. This is completely balanced as well. I know that all the malts in a wee heavy are hard to balance, but somehow, this one really works.

What a pleasant surprise. This was a great treat. Thank again to hoppymeal for this gem. Full bodied with perfect carbonation. I could drink this all night. A great beer.

 746 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, muddled scarlet red. Thin light brown head. Lacing is spotty and sporadic. Decent aroma. Pretty roasty and nutty for a Wee Heavy. But there's also notes of dampness and bread pudding on the nose. Body is light-medium and very lightly carbonated. This beer has a good flavor and with this mouthfeel, it flows across the palate pretty damn easy. (Almost feels like a cask ale out of a bottle.) A little bit of a dry, chalky aftertaste, but to me, it's appealing. The flavor doesn't carry over the roast and nuttiness from the nose....which is o.k. It's more of a peaty, smoky malt base with some juicy undertones of plum and raisin. Slightly lingering roasty bitterness. For 9.75% a/v, the alcohol is hidden quite nicely. It lingers a litte on the aftertaste as well, but is really not that noticeable during the drinking. Which is a bit of an accomplishment I think. Dark Horse is definitely a brewery to reckon with.

 922 characters

Photo of sacrelicio
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good scotch ale from a little brewery new to the Twin Cities - a little secret craft brewer among those in my crowd. Good malty brew, fruity with berries, cinnamon, chocolate, fig, prune, whisky, etc. Very nice fruity smell, delicious, dark burgundy color, nice a drinkable still.

 280 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

scotty karate, dark horse.
the beer birthed by a misconception.
9.75%? hoo, that's big for a Scotch ale...well, all right, then...

Dark burgundy hue, near mahogany, minimal head

Aroma: cookie dough, cinnamon bread, toasted and sweet, warm malt, light spice, caramel and toffee...mmmm...

Taste: big malty mouthfeel, cracked pepper meets toasted malt, alcohol feel is pronounced early...but I like it.
Dark fruits, blackberry and currant,, delicious, roasty, toasty malt...mmm, mmm, mmmm.

Medium bodied, long finish, toasted dark fruit, dry, and altogether...not bad. MAybe even good. A bit too boozy, though...I think. but a fine beverage nonetheless.

 670 characters

Photo of bushbeer75
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle out of a 4-pack

Scotty Karate poured a dark mahogany color with a thin small tan head that dissipated rather quickly. Smell and taste is of fresh caramel, smoky chocolate, and a little cinnamon. A fuller bodied ale that is smooth and balanced, a little chewy, and slight prickly carbonation. This is very drinkable ale that hides its 9.75 abv with only a slight warming alcohol finish.

I can’t decide which Michigan Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy I like better –Scotty Karate or Founders Dirty Bastard - both are very good! Guess I need to do a side-by-side tasting.

If you are a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy fan, this brew is worth seeking out.

Note: Am wondering why this ale appears in the retired category. Scotty Karate still appears on Dark Horse’s web site and is found in Michigan stores. Scotty K. also just won a Silver Metal at the GABF this past weekend – A BIG CONGRATS! to the Dark Horse crew. Scotty Karate would be missed if ‘”put to pasture”.

 972 characters

Scotty Karate Scotch Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,791 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.