Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale | Church-Key Brewing Company

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Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch AleChurch-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale
112 Ratings
Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch AleChurch-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Church-Key Brewing Company
Ontario, Canada

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.25%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This unique beer was made as a connection with John and his Celtic family heritage. Ne Oublie, is the Graham Clan ancient family motto, indeed all that have tasted Holy Smoke can say that this Beer will never be forgotten. The Graham clan tartan is also used on the packaging. Holy Smoke Scotch Ale is a dark, strong ale that uniquely utilizes Scottish imported peat-smoked whisky malt, it is smooth, rich and malty, dominated by these peat roasted smokey notes.

17-35 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 112 |  Reviews: 50
Photo of Pmicdee
3/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of Jotora
3/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of UniversitateaDeBere
4.26/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mikemands
3.3/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

heavy, thick pure smoke syrup.

30 characters

Photo of Glorithm
3.59/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Hoppy_McGee
3.79/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of hunterjames
3.69/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Beccy
3.57/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look - Bottle is a nice monotone print which stands out on the LCBO shelf against all the cheap paper labels which are common for smaller breweries. Cap is unadorned, would be nice to have some decoration there too.

Beer itself is a dark reddish brown with little head or lacing

Smell: Smoke & beer basically, quite savoury.

Taste: First sip is almost unpleasantly smokey but definitely gets nicer. Dark chocolate, smoke, leather, wood. I would call it a manly beer but I like it so I'll just say the flavours are masculine.

Feel: Medium low level of carbonation, perhaps even less would be ideal for the flavours.

Overall: A good change and worth a try, but I doubt I'll buy it again.

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Photo of lgmol
3.52/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Eastshoreboy
3.71/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of Wajohnst
3.69/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Tilly
3.75/5  rDev +5%

Nothing pretentious about this beer. Nice tab head, toasted malts, earthy aroma. The flavor doesn't fall to far from the aroma bit has done nuttiness. Definetly smoke with a single malt finish. Gets me right in the back of the tongue!

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Photo of Mr_Hoptimistic
2.5/5  rDev -30%

Photo of patre_tim
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of SebD
3.74/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: It has a nice deep mahogany/amber color to it. It has a nice creamy beige head that dies down moderately fast and leaves little lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of toasted malts, chocolate, a bunch of smokiness and some woody notes as well.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some smoky notes, toasted malts, light chocolate, some sweet caramel and faint wood.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by good flavors and aromas.

 559 characters

Photo of Organdrew
3.69/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I bought a 650ml bottle from the local liquor store. I was a little skeptical about buying this as it is more expensive than other beers and smaller in serving but I figured if it was .ore expensive, it should be good. I was right.

Look: bottle seemed like some sort of weird gothic or cult type symbols. Not really my style but mysterious nonethless. The contents came out just as dark as the bottle.

Smell: was not wowed by the smell. Reminded me of other dark craft beers. Slightly reminded of guiness.

Taste: this is where I really liked it. With very low carbonation and creamy. I prefer medium-high carbonation in my beer but this was okay. Smoke, peat, malt, reminiscent of sausages over a bonfire or barbeque. Almost has a red-wine flair to it, but not a bad thing.


Many review say this pairs well with food and I did pair mine with oven grilled sausages, good pair. Some say it's not sessionable but I could drink one maybe two In one session. This is simply not like watered-down lagers you can pound back. A real "man's taste" and bold. This is closely similar to noire de Chambly by Unibroue. It does seem to get overwhelming after a while, but if you like strong drinks and black coffee, this ones for you. It seemed a little flat and I longed for some carbonation, but it was a treat. I would reccommend. Like many say: different but not bad. Simply a specific taste that not many like.

 1,417 characters

Photo of DreamDeath
3/5  rDev -16%

Photo of chickenm
4.25/5  rDev +19%

Photo of CurtisD
3.25/5  rDev -9%

Photo of BuckyBeerBeaver
3.08/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Founded in 2000, Church-Key Brewing is located in an 1878 Methodist Church on the outskirts of Campbellford, Ontario. The only microbrewery in Northumberland County, Church-Key features a variety of award-winning hand-crafted ales including its flagship Northumberland Ale and today's beer, Holy Smoke Scotch Ale ("HSSA"). All of Church-Key's ales are made in small batches from four ingredients: malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Open daily from 10am until dark, the brewery's web site says that visitors are always welcome to take a guided tour of the facility, with samples available in their tasting room afterward.

Despite the first scotch he tried many years ago, which tasted like falling face down into a peat bog with his mouth open, Bucky resolved to try a bottle of HSSA from his favourite LBCO store. HSSA came in a brown 650 ml bottle with a "best before"date of Jan. 3, 2013, and was 6.2% alcohol by volume. HSSA sells for $5.95 per bottle.

The beer poured a dark brown colour with a ruby core when backlit, with 1/4" of tan coloured head that faded to a thin ring of foam and patchy film within two minutes, leaving some minor spotting and lacing down the glass. Its aroma was dominated by smoked peat, which was not overpowering at first, but as the beer warmed this aroma become stronger and began to remind me of burning rubber. Fortunately, HSSA never developed a burnt rubber taste; smoked peat, dark malts, and a certain sweetness were evident though. A smoky peat aftertaste lingered for a few seconds after swallowing the beer. The carbonation was fairly active and well suited to the brew, and I would describe the beer as medium bodied.I believe that a 650 ml bottle of HSSA is best shared, and paired with something like a beef or pork dish, and may even go well with some cheeses. I found two glasses to be a bit of a struggle though, due entirely to the burning rubber smell that developed as I made my way down the bottle.

 1,960 characters

Photo of slitherySOB
3.89/5  rDev +9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Got this at the LCBO, and since it mentioned my Scottish family heritage, the Graham clan, I had to pick it up. This beer pours a dark brown colour with a two finger head that dissipates into nothing. Was not that impressed. Smells a bit like a decent scotch. Nice peat moss, toasted malts, bit of chocolate, slight hint of coffee, and a light hint of smoke. Taste is lovely. Sweet toasty malts up front, with a bit of caramel and chocolate. Ends with bitter chocolate, coffee and that hint of smokiness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation, smooth and refreshing. I like it, and will be picking it up again, as well as any other offerings I see from this brewery.

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Photo of RyanPollock
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of byronic
3/5  rDev -16%

Photo of Cramshawbar
2.5/5  rDev -30%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Way to not know how to make a quality smoked beer. If you want lessons, perhaps it's time to contact Ovisholt Brugghus, whose Lava is so much more superior to this, that it is close to embarrassing.

 198 characters

Photo of bigox420
4/5  rDev +12%

Church-Key Holy Smoke Scotch Ale from Church-Key Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.57 out of 5 with 112 ratings