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 Ivanhoes_Backpack
3.25/5  rDev -9%

Photo of RedAleMan
3.5/5  rDev -2%

Photo of Jeffo
3.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one at the LCBO in Waterloo.

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, off-white or light tan head with decent retention. Quickly fades to a splotchy wisp and ring. Clear dark brown body and modest levels of carbonation. Splotchy wisp remains but leaves no real lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Some peat notes, leather and light chocolate on the nose. Toasted grains, brown and chocolate malts and lightly smoky as well. Not nearly as smoke dominate as I'd feared, but actually well balanced and nuanced.

TASTE: Brown and caramel malt sweetness up front, with light notes of peated malts and leather at the swallow. Mild but lingering of smoked malts, some caramel sweetness, bitter chocolate and peat flavors. Pretty well integrated and well balanced.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. A touch light on the palate, creamy, goes down smooth and finishes a touch dry. Good feel.

OVERALL: This was actually quite good. A solid smoke beer for sure. Well balanced and quite interesting and complex as well. Glad to have tried it. Not something I'll have to rush out for again, but easy to drink and definitely something for fans of the style. Recommended.

 1,198 characters

Photo of WillAndSarah
3.75/5  rDev +5%

Photo of IdeaSpeeder
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving Type - 650ml bottle poured into a snifter

Appearance - Pours a dark brown colour, almost black...slightly darker than a cola. On top sits roughly two fingers of light brown/caramel coloured head which fades almost immediately.

Smell - Smoke, smoke and more smoke. Some peat and wood in there as well. Sort of reminds me of peat-heavy scotch.

Taste - Lot's of smoke and peat here as well. Actually thats almost all I'm getting here. Underneath all that smoke there's a surprisingly toffee and caramel. It's everything you would want in a smoked beer (namely a whooole lot-a smoke). That said, if you're looking for a more balanced, session-able pint, this probably isn't for you

Mouthfeel - Extremely low carbonation. The body is quite light. The bubbles combined with the texture of the beer is reminiscent of a good way.

 858 characters

Photo of Vyronian
4.75/5  rDev +33.1%

Photo of nullbort
3.5/5  rDev -2%

Photo of Long813
3.5/5  rDev -2%

Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to Cattersley for this trade.

A: First to note - sharp white graphic on the bottle is striking and sophisticated. the ale poured a deep black brown and glows a deep garnet when held to the light. Capped off with a finger of velvety head - it settles to a solid ring around the glass.

S: Solid smoky peat, wet wood and wet hay, deeply earthy and reminiscent of a old animal barn.

T: Reflects the smell to a T - Peaty smoke with plenty of wet wood and that barnyard funkiness. Very powerful smokiness that somewhat overshadows some of the other scotch ale notes, but as the palette adjusts to the smokiness notes caramel and dark toffee notes shine through.

M: Very subtle buzz of carbonation that supports the peaky smoke. A medium mouth feel that holds in the mouth.

O: A powerful smoky offering that pulls no punches - it's unabashedly forward in the smoky smell and taste and offers a deeply earthy and barnyard profile. It may be somewhat one sided, but does so boldly without attempting to be something it isn't.
Would be terrific with jerk chicken or bar-b-que steak, as a side dish.

 1,105 characters

Photo of timiskin
3.25/5  rDev -9%

Photo of BigGruntyThirst
3.75/5  rDev +5%

Photo of DarkForest
3.5/5  rDev -2%

Photo of Molson2000
4.25/5  rDev +19%

Photo of decimator
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle poured into a pint glass. ABV 6.2%.

A - Pours a dark cola brown but if exposed to light the colour is dark red. 1cm cream head reduced to a bubbly ring. Minimal lacing.

S - Smoke, roasted grains, earth. Not as smoky as a typical Rauchbier though.

T - Roasted grains, some caramel, some smoke, hint of bacon, mild tea notes in the finish. The smokiness isn't as present as in the aroma.

M - Medium-heavy carbonation, medium-heavy body, some creaminess, thinning finish.

O - A bit one dimensional but it is certainly drinkable.

 543 characters

Photo of Kremlock
3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A: Pours a deep brown with hues or red in it. Pours a 1/4 inch head that then settles to a thin film around the glass.

S: Peaty, smokey with hints of dates.

T: Peaty with a slight meaty taste to it. Some dates present, light maltyness present through the peat smoke.

M: Thin, watery. A bit of puckering on the tongue.

O. Lack of maltiness and thin watery body does not make it appealing.

 392 characters

Photo of polloenfuego
3.75/5  rDev +5%

Photo of DaPan
3.25/5  rDev -9%

Photo of ThinkAgain
1.75/5  rDev -51%

Photo of Mindsquall
3.87/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This is an interesting beer. It poured a dark brown with a bit of tan head that subsided quickly. Smell is sweet and smoky, rather nice. Flavor is very rich and full, sweet, malty and smoky, reminiscent of a peat smoked scotch whisky. Mouthfeel is smooth but a bit boozy.

This is unique but definitely pretty good. Worth a try.

 328 characters

Photo of mick303
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle, 6.2% couldn't find a freshness date. Poured into a wine glass, colour is pretty much black dark brown, head recedes really quickly, leaving a slight film and a trace of lacing.

Smell is strongly suggestive of smoky and ash notes. Charred barley malt. Bonfires, maybe a trace of smoky dark fruit underneath. Burnt chestnuts. So earthy hoppiness but it is pretty buried. Together its pretty unique, a bit dominated.

Taste as expected has a bit smoky impact but it is far from being one-dimensional. A bit coastal and briny, with seashore fires, fishnets and a bit of lightness to it. Some of the char aspect but some really unique other flavours going on, with a slight sweetness also. Bitterness is pretty mild, lots of (heavy) roast malt profile. Finish is pleasantly smoky

Mouthfeel is moderate, heavily toasty, slick and smoky, a bit thin with a light carbonation. It does drink pretty well and could be considered refreshing despite its somewhat intense flavour. Really nice. Alcohol doesn't really come through.

I had heard this was a love-or-hate-it beer. I was pleasantly surprised. Smoked a nice amount to give it definite character, and would make a nice food paring, but not so much as to ruin the beer for my palate. Quite a cool flavour interplay, could use a bit more body, and maybe a bit dominated by the peat and char, but otherwise worth checking out.

 1,386 characters

Photo of FirstBrewsoon
3/5  rDev -16%

Photo of thehyperduck
4.09/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle from the LCBO listed at 6.2%; best before Mar. 6 2013. I've generally heard good things about Church Key, but since I live outside of their distribution range, finding any of their offerings has been a tad troublesome. Grabbing this one while shopping in London was thus a bit of a no-brainer, but the fact that I haven't tried a new smoked beer in the better part of a year also factored into the decision. Poured into a mug.

Pours a brownish cola colour - seemingly opaque at first, but holding it up under the light reveals the liquid's inherent clarity (and some ruby red tinges). Topped with one finger of light beige-coloured head that recedes relatively rapidly, leaving behind a dense collar around the edge, and a thin, wispy film at the surface. The aroma is rich and enticing, with plenty of roasted malts and molasses underlying notes of bacon, glazed ham, peat and hickory smoke, with a faint hint of coffee grinds that is difficult to separate from the rest of the bouquet.

This is tasty stuff, with a wide range of different flavours mingling and (more importantly) complementing each other nicely. Roasted malts, caramel and molasses come through first, followed by some ambiguous hints of dark fruit. A few peaty notes. The smoke is only an ephemeral presence at first, but surges forth in the finish, imparting hints of smoked wood and bacon/pork that linger into the aftertaste. The flavour definitely improves a little as it warms. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, with mild carbonation that gives this brew a smooth, slick mouthfeel. Very drinkable, but more suited to washing down your dinner than sessioning.

Final Grade: 4.09, a solid A-. Church Key's Holy Smoke Scotch Ale is one of the more interesting brews I've had in the last month or so. The smokiness is not as intense or meaty as in genuine rauchbiers, but it's still a constant, distracting presence throughout the flavour profile, which I feel makes this particular brew a perfect introduction to smoked beers for any interested newbies. I enjoyed this bottle on its own, but this is the sort of beer that is really begging to be paired up with (or used in!) some sort of hearty pork/beef dish. All in all, this was a fabulous OCB offering that I wish was available locally! I'll definitely keep an eye out for more stuff from this brewer, and would eagerly encourage others to sample this.

 2,399 characters

Photo of Mama-Kail
1/5  rDev -72%

Photo of WeissBoy
3/5  rDev -16%

Photo of EgadBananas
3.87/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cattersley! He was wounded, but not dead!

Pours a dark brown with ruby edges. Given the circumstances, the slight ring of head and bubbles are beautiful! The aroma is meaty, smoky, and rich with caramel. Taste is sweet, somewhat nutty, smoky and with a mild bacon not. Not as robust as the aroma. Good feel overall.

Enjoyed me a meaty, bacon smoked beer!

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