McEwan's No.1 Champion | The Caledonian Brewing Company

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McEwan's No.1 ChampionMcEwan's No.1 Champion
McEwan's No.1 ChampionMcEwan's No.1 Champion

Brewed by:
The Caledonian Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 46 | Ratings: 81
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought today in Sainsbury's in west London. It was inexpensive/£1.70 and new to me so I didn't study the lable details closely. Hence I'm surprised to see it's 7.3% ABV.
L- Very dark chestnut brown, clear, and pours with a 1Cm pale tan head that is holding up well.
S- Unsurprisingly toasty
T- Deeply roasty-toasty grains and deep rich malts. Some coffee notes as well. The alcohol-tang is self-evident; no mistaking this is quite a beast.
F- The 7.3% gives a deep puddingy feel, as in the deep fruit richness in a traditional Xmas pudding.
O- Well well well. I'm no fan of the original/regular McEwan's but this is something else entirely. It might make an ideal winter/Xmas beer. It is pretty rich too and given the ABV% I would limit how much of this I had in a night to one or two.
BB 30/11/19. 500ml bottle. Apparently the name 'Champion' derives from it having 'won the Tesco bottled beer competition in 1997'. Yes I'd buy this again; it's an obvious choice for fans of heavier ales, and at £1.70/500ml...!

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Photo of josanguapo
4.01/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From Hipercor. In Ikea's pint glass. Watching Carmina y Amen. Very balanced and pleasant, with a soft sweetness and high drinkability in spite of its ABV

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Photo of Delbertogrady
3.56/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown in colour with a creamy/fluffy off white head. I noted a slightly musty smell. Nice full flavoured and quite mellow considering its ABV. Dry, roasted malt taste.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a rusty tinge, 4 fingers of beige fluffy head, clear filtered with lots of fine bubbles.

Toasted malts, scotch, toffee.

Scotch, toffee, dark and roasted and toasty.

Light body, low carbonation, a tannic, dry, clinging but palate cleansing quality.

Got on Wish beer, really like this brew. Drank Dec 21st, 2015 in Chiang Mai.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.65/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown body with a slight off white head that okay diminishes but pretty much sticks
Nice malty aroma reminds me of a good flapjack
Nice toffee flavour with slight fruity hints
It's satisfyingly solid
Quite a good standard of ale slightly surprisingly

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Photo of Jerseyislandbeer
3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown colour with a light brown head. Aromas of fruit and malt. Tastes of sweetness, as well as fruit and malt with a real feel of the ABV. Overall a nice enough bottle which I'd have again, but would not go out of my way for.

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Photo of chinchill
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle consumed in Fife, Scotland.

Looks great, with a clear red-brown body and a durable, light tan head that leaves patterned sticky lacing behind.
High ABV is evident in the aroma, taste and feel. The aroma also harbors hints of toffee.
Flavor: A tad too bitter in the finish and aftertaste.

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Photo of interzen
4.51/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into a nonic pint

Look: Dark chestnut brown, almost like a porter. Thin, bubbly tan head which recedes leaving some lacing round the side of the glass. Head recedes to a thin, clumpy foam cap.

Smell: Fruit and malts, almost like Christmas cake. There's also a hefty dose of alcohol in the smell but it's not unappealing by any means. Overall, a fairly rich and heady aroma.

Feel: Definitely a bit on the heavy side for prolonged drinking, but creamy and full nonetheless. Worth taking your time over - you're not going to be throwing this down your neck.

Taste: Fruity, malty and slightly medicinal with a honey sweet alcohol finish. The alcohol isn't overpowering by any means, but it's there and serves to add an extra dimension of interest to proceedings. Again, there's definitely a Christmas cake vibe here. Very nice indeed.

Overall: I grew up in the North-East of England and during the 70s and 80s McEwans was part of Scottish & Newcastle and therefore an almost ubiquitous presence in the pubs (usually in the form of McEwan's Best Scotch). 30-odd years down the line and things have changed beyond recognition - Champion is a bit too heavy and malty for a session beer, but it's a mightly tasty pint that's worth taking your time over. Hop-heads will no doubt look elsewhere, but there's a lovely, malty fruitiness here that's worthy of more than just a cursory glance. Recommended.

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Photo of Malt_Man
3.64/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served cool from 500ml bottle into pint mug.

A) Dark reddish-brown chestnut, thin off-white film, a few small bubbles. Quite a bit of lacing on the glass.

S) Rich soft fruity malt and a fair bit of alcohol. Quite appealing.

T) Soft, warming malt, balanced with hint of hop bitterness. Honey-ish sweetness comes in later. Pretty good. The alcohol content does not overpower the flavours.

M) Pretty much ties in with the style. A pleasant drinking beer.

O) Big Scottish breweries don't have a good rep in England (tramp juice factories) but this is very nice and included in the 3 500ml bottles for £5 offer at Morrisons, so deriitely good value.

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Photo of BeerDrinkersWorldTour
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Deep and dark ruby colouration. Tight beige shaving cream foam head adorns the top of this beer. The head has amazing retention and leaves wonderful clumpy lace down the sides of the glass much like a stout would. There is ample CO2 streaming in the glass.

Smell - Burnt sugar sweet malt aroma, light prune sweet sticky caramel and light hop. Sweet spice almost cake like.

Taste - Again a beer that has a taste almost identical to the aroma. Burnt sugar and caramel, light prune, red wine and raisin like a Christmas cake. There is a very interesting boozy taste in the middle of the mouth like a good whisky and some mild but still present hop at the very back.

Mouthfeel - Warming boozy tingle that moves from the gum and cheek to the throat and lingers long after each mouthful. Creamy and full this beer is rather nice but a little to boozy for me personally.

Overall - Well balanced if a little sweet, a good example of the style this beer is a great ambassador for the Scottish Ale.

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Photo of Leeham991
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep, deep copper with a very thick head. At first very little aroma got through that thick head, but when it down down and started coming through it was what I can only describe as sweet and with a lot of spirit.
As for the taste it starts of very sweet, going along with a syrupy mouth feel. It dies down into a soft carbonated burn then off into an aftertaste of spirits. Very pleasant overall, soft and malty, a hint of hops.

Overall it is very pleasant. A very warming beer I would imagine would be perfect for winter evenings, and with a flavour which is strong, but not overpowering.

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Photo of utfiero
4.43/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color- rich Spanish oak brown. Medium head.

Aroma- mild hops, caramel, roasted malt, hint of Christmas cake. An excellent strong Scotch ale! Starts with a mild roastiness, moves quickly to Christmas cake, raisins, and spices, finishing with a linger cake, fruit, and coffee roastiness. Beautiful experience. Poured from 500 ml bottle into a small drinking glass while in Huntly, Scotland. Procured from a local store in Huntly.

As a side note, the photo posted is out of date (or perhaps for export bottles).

Mfg website

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Photo of mick303
3.13/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a really large creamy off-white head. Colour is a dark ruddy brown. Shows nice retention and pretty good lacing.

Smell has a pleasant earthy roastiness, burnt sugar, cooked apples, a light earthy spice, some pleasant hop bitterness. A bit candy-like but also warming, not especially deep though.

Taste has a surge of coffee roastiness, then some burnt roasty character, bitter cocoa powder, coffee bean, heavy malt. A lot of residual sugar sweetness comes through in the mid-point, almost bubblegum like. Finishes dry, earthy, with spice and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is big, quite roasty and malty with quite a bit of boozy alcohol toward the end, moderate carbonation. Why am I left feeling like someone poured vodka into this beer?, more alcohol astringency on finish, dry bitterness.

The alcohol phenols on the finish seem a bit offensive and this suffers from balance issues in places. I did think the flavour was quite good at points, but it never seemed to balance and join together. It became hard to drink honestly, with the high strength they might have bitten off more than they can chew. The last time I had this I remember it being better, so much raw alcohol coming through. This is really bad on the end as it warms, no complexity and tastes increasingly like discount vodka, avoid.

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Photo of coltsr2
4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark chestnut brown with a cream-coloured half inch head...aroma wise it was pure malt surrounded by sweet chestnuts and sultanas....
On the first taste its soon apparent that this is a quite a sweet and strong-ish, warming ale, mildly carbonated and full bodied, with toffee, fudge and caramel notes launching at you!....the lack of initial hopped bitterness to calm the sweetness down seems a bit odd at first, but then it eventually makes its slow appearance under all that sweet caramelised toffee apple exterior, subtle and subdued..but enough to make the overall experience a pleasant one...i find this beer a nice easy to drink sweet and strong ale, ideal for those cold winter nights in...and at 4 bottles for only £5 at my local asda its a real bargain too!...

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Photo of BeerGogglesReviews
1.8/5  rDev -51.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

Full bodied could describe Jordan's Physique, Basil Brush's brush or even this beer. This syrupy sticky sicky substance has all the subtlety of a drunken Mike Tyson on the pull. Mix some liquorice, and antifreeze together and you've got an idea of how this tastes. 'Champion!' Of what?!? A fairground prize-fighting brawl maybe.
Drink it if you wanna get drunker after a greasy Saturday night kebab or if you measure a beers quality by its ABV. If it were cheaper, painters would love it.
B G Score 08/100

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Photo of Hanglow
3.06/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Previous rating 3.5 when it was brewed at the Calley

Now brewed by Charles Wells

pours a nice dark reddish brown, small head. Looks inviting

Sweet perfumey aroma, some sweet fruits. Mild.

Bit of an odd flavour with a fairly decent bitterness to it which I wasn't expecting. Sweet sugars, fake fruits, odd malt. Just...odd. Like it's had flavourings added to it.

They've certainly changed it for the worse sadly, never the best beer ever but it's gone downhill. The bitterness jars a bit with the flavour. Alcohol very well covered though, if you'd told me it 5% I would have believed you

It got a bit better as it warmed up but not much.

Add Charles Well to the shit list with GK and Marstons et al

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Photo of Dave1999
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very dark brownish red with a huge head which left a lot of lacing.

Smells of malts not much else.

Tastes of coffee and sweet malts,a bit of caramel and toffee even a little alcohol.

Feels smooth very little carbonation, quite thick.

This is an OK beer, the abv is much higher than most scottish ales I've tried so far. It tastes decent but not great.

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Photo of flyingpig
2.79/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Very dark mahogany brown colour with a tanned brownish white head that is quite foamy. Retention is good with some lacing too.

Sweet smelling but with a very strong background alcohol smell that comes from the beer. There is an initial sweet toffee and caramel aroma that the drink gives off which is very sweet. As mentioned the alcohol smell sits in the background and is accompanied by a quite rich, sugary one that has hints of roasted malts.

Lots of roasted malts and barely in the flavour with some good dark fruits in the mix as well, although they are not a pronounced. The middle is a caramel flavoured one that is quite nice too & this is quickly followed up by a warm & creamy bitterness that is nice without being too strong.

Medium, almost heavy beer that is quite smooth & has medium carbonation.

Definitely too much alcohol coming from both the aroma & the taste make this a difficult beer to enjoy fully.

1001 Beers to Try List:

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml bottle with a BB date of Oct 2011. Label describes it as an award-winning ale.

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A dark reddish-brown colour with medium carbonation visible when held up to the light. Large off-white head with a creamy texture that holds up well. The aroma is quite something - rich dark malts with lots of sweet fruity notes; raisins, plums and stewed fruit as well as a hint of caramel. Overtones of alcohol. Complex.

A powerful taste; sweet dark malt with a bitter finish. Notes of fruit and some roasted flavours. A warming sensation from the alcohol. Sweet on the tongue as you swallow, followed by a lingering malty bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and syrupy - it feels good for the style.

An impressive ale with a big flavour, though probably not everyone's cup of tea. The first time I tried this it conjured memories of throwing up after drinking too much...but my palate has since matured ;)
I'm not sure how this stacks up to other strong Scottish ales, but it's worth seeking out to try.

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Photo of ivanwatling
4.31/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: brown colour, no head. I like a creamy head so this only receives an 'average' score.

Smell: Beautifuly sweet and rich.

Taste: Powerfull, rich. Balance between thick sweetness and sharp bitterness, pehaps just learning towards bitter.

Mouthfeel: Pleasant lingering aftertaste, perfect carbonation balance.

Drinkability: Far too strong to have more than one bottle, would probably be too rich anyway. But one bottle is a warming, comforting experience.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

A: Nice half-finger of creamy head. The rich mahogany-coloured beer is clear, but so dark as to obscure vision through it.
Good lacing.

S: Malty, with some barley gain, a bit of fruit (apple? raisin?), and a touch of toffee.

T: Nice, strong tastes of malt and caramel. One user suggested black treacle; I concur. The taste is rich, sweet, and a tad alcoholic. The end taste is warming and figgy. Aftertaste is slightly bitter, which was a surprise (but not an unpleasant one). Very interesting, well-rounded beer.

M: A little boring, but nothing to complain about. A bit dry.

D: A very nice beer indeed! Heavy, filling, warming, and, above all, satisfying. I will buy it again; recommended.

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Photo of Zimbo
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The most commonly found 'wee heavy' in Scotland and made in the Caledonian brewery in Edinburgh. I haven't had this since the switch until now.

The delicate dense but fluffy heavy head formed pretty easily. In the mouth there is now a more dominant almost black treacle quality which is rich and more complex than it once was. Seems more rounded as well with some vinous qualities almost like Caledonian 80 but bigger.

Drank this chilled but as it warmed up it became much more raw and overwelmingly boozy and confected . Still a bit simple to be honest.

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Photo of AEK
4.33/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml brown bottle poured into a Gordon's Thistle glass.

A. Autumnal red in colour. A nice thick lightly tanned bubbly head sits above and it doesn't say 'goodbye' too soon.

S. Vine fruit and brandyish notes dominate the nose.

T. Lovely and bitter although some malt sweetness emerges. Rich with hints of port, the alcoholic warmth soon bites.

M. Smooth and almost heavy.

D. A delicious strong ale from Scotland. Strange how this is Gordon's Scotch Ale that is brewed for the Belgian market but the %ABV has been lowered from the 8.5% ABV for Belgium to 7.3% for the British market. Although the alcohol content has been lowered it is still a warming beer, great for sipping on a cold evening as it is today even though it is almost June!!

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Photo of mjgarrett2
4.01/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Deep, dark mahogany with almost no light permeating the glass. An almost ruby/violet hue like the color of red grapes.

S-Tart fruits, maybe fig or apricot. Bit of raisin as well almost like fortified wines.

T-Slightly sour grape/raisin bolstered by sweet roasted malts and some bitterness. Really does tread between a malty scottish ale and a rich port.

M-Dry and robust. It avoids being too sweet through the depth of the fruity characteristics rather than the sugar content.

D-Good on it's own but it seems to fill a role, like port, as an after dinner drink or something I would want with an appetizer spread or a cheese course.

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Photo of seanyfo
4.38/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

50cl bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

A- dark mahogany with ruby notes in body. A 3 finger creamy head that produces excellent creamy lacing considering abv. Very good retention

S- metallic note, with lots of caramel/toffee malts. No real hop profile to speak of.

T- Syrupy caramel sweet malts in the beginning which is nicely balanced with a subdued hop bite in the finish. Finish is very smooth/creamy. Abv very well hidden.

M- Creamy, full bodied, medium carbonation.

D- Dangerously moreish. Very drinkable, i like my big malty beers and this was no exception. A fantastic malty smooth experience with a delicate hop bite in the finish preventing it from being too sweet/syrupy. Delicious!

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McEwan's No.1 Champion from The Caledonian Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.72 out of 5 with 81 ratings