Tartan Ale
Port City Brewing

Tartan AleTartan Ale
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Scottish Ale
Ranked #162
Ranked #41,833
3.6 | pDev: 12.78%
Port City Brewing
Virginia, United States
Tartan AleTartan Ale
Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 98 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mpyle
mpyle from Maryland

3.97/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a surprisingly cloudy amber color, nice creamy white head with some retention. Doesn't look to be bottle conditioned...not sure why so cloudy.

Nice soft malty nose, otherwise quite clean. No hops to be seen or smelled.

Biscuity malt flavor initially, Malty but not sweet. Very clean throughout. No rough edges. Super drinkable.

Medium body and carbonation. Honestly I think it would be better with less carbonation.

An offering I'd never seen from a local brewery of mine before. Definitely not crap. Nice offering for an easy drinking, low hop beer. I drank my sample as a rest from some hoppy beers.

Jun 02, 2018
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VoxRationis from New York

3.95/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Decanted from a 12 oz (355 ml) bottle into a conical pint glass.
A: Pours a hazy, copper color with bits of yeast clearly present. Lightens to a brass color around the edges. Minimal head with minimal lacing.
S: Floral yeastiness with strong notes of molasses and caramel.
T: Slightly sweet, toast to caramel flavor with elements of fig, raisin, and even peach. Bitterness well balanced, but a bit of a pepperiness aftertaste.
M: Light to medium bodied. Solid carbonation leaving a tingling sensation.
O: Different take on Scottish Ale. Drinks less smoothly and a bit lighter than the real McCoy, so to speak, but definitely enjoyable.

Aug 23, 2017
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HattedClassic from Virginia

3.75/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Beer is a nice clear brown color. Has a very interesting ruby hue.

Smells and taste are good. Caramel malt note with a nice fruit strawberry like note and light bitter bite

The feel medium but a bit thin. Tingling carbonation gives it a nice feel. Scarily drinkable beer.

Pretty good for rainy days during the fall and spring.

May 22, 2016
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jjboesen from Maryland

3.57/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

After a frothy beginning, this nice brew settles down into a murky caramel body; it has a faint bubble gum nose and a semi-sweet malty flavor. Rather light and easy: a perfect sessional quaff, though not necessarily a true expression of a Scottish ale. Give me a Bellhaven, anytime. Nice try, though laddies.

Jan 01, 2016
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KTCamm from New Jersey

4.08/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

5/24...pours a brownish copper with white foam. Light earthy peaty nose with malty tones. Caramel and earthy mild hop taste. Smooth mouthfeel. Tasty. Does the Scottish style well without overwhelming.

May 31, 2015
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MUTINY from Virginia

3.76/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a solo cup.

A: Clear medium-amber with an inch of white head that recedes pretty quickly. Not much retention or lacing.

S: Caramel & a bit of a fruitiness. Multigrain bread. Maybe honey.

T: More of that multigrain bread, some raisin & kind of a honeysuckle thing. Hop-bittering is mild but present.

M: Light & high-carb for the style. Unique.

O: Kind of a cool scotch ale, not as assertive or filling as it's kin. I'm sure I could put a few of these back no problem.

May 26, 2015
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metter98 from New York

3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is hazy amber orange in color. It poured with a short white head that quickly died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of sweet malts are present in the nose along with some hints of toasted malts and toffee.
T: As in the smell, the taste is rather malty and has bits of sweetness accompanying the flavors of burnt caramel, smoke, toasted malts, and toffee.
M: It feels medium-bodied, a bit smooth, and slightly watery on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: Despite all of the malty flavors, this beer isn't overly heavy on the palate, which makes this not that difficult to drink.

Serving type: bottle

Apr 30, 2015
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obywan59 from Virginia

3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coppery orange with moderate haze, a 2 1/2 finger off white head, and minimal bubbles.

Smell of caramelly malt with a bit of floral/herbal hops.

Sweet caramel again predominates with a bit of light bitter hops.

Tingly crisp with a medium full body and moderate syrupy retention.

A decent, simple brew. Not a lot going on, but rather easy to drink. Not really sessionable though, in my opinion. The body slows me down a bit.

Apr 08, 2015
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Maxbier from Maryland

3.26/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Light brown copper with big tan head. Aroma is lightly roasted malt and some brown sugar. Body is light, very light caramel sweetness. Slightly acidic hop flavor at the end. Like an apple pie without the apple pie spices.

Apr 07, 2015
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Jeffreysan from Maryland

4.53/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a pretty, cloudy, golden/amber color with three full fingers of off-white foam that slooooooooowly dissolved into a half of a finger of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Malty and bready up front, with some notes of black pepper, clover and brown sugar.

Taste: Big malt bomb! Tons of malt and freshly baked bread, like pretzels or rye bread, up front, flowed by strong notes of black pepper and clover. There’s some subtle hops at the finish, but overall, there is a hell of a lot of malt! Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth. Hardly any carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 5.5%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: Damn good beer! Tons of malt which I’m a big fan of. Malt fans will love this beer!! I’d certainly get it again!!

Jan 26, 2015
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clayrock81 from Florida

3.62/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured a reddish brown body with an aroma that was rather low-key and somewhat disappointing with minimal sweet and bread malts and hardly any dark fruits at all. Beer is smooth and easy to drink, light bodied for style, like the hop crispness on backend and this beer isn't bad but it isn't great, either. Has a little bit of sweet malt and dark fruit taste but for most part they are subdued flavors that don't really grab my attention.

Jul 28, 2014
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ThisWangsChung from Maryland

3.28/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a murky dark chestnut color with some ugly sediment. The head is a finger high, with a shade somewhere between off-white and mocha (so sue me, I'm indecisive...) I like how soft and creamy the head's texture is, and the retention - while not fantastic - is acceptable enough. Some lacing is left behind.

S: My first thought whiffing this beer is "gingerbread". Aside from ginger, I'm also getting heavy caramel, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and perhaps even some chocolate. My only objection is that the nose doesn't have much in the way of bitter hints. Still, I like the well-defined aroma of this brew.

T: It actually follows the nose fairly well. While the primary flavor is caramel (expected), I enjoy the gingery hints I'm getting. It finishes with some brown sugar, molasses, and chocolate. There are also wisps of leafy, tobacco-like bitterness at times. Seems a bit simple and unexciting, but there is some enjoyment to be found.

M: Despite the moderate level of sweetness, it's fairly well attenuated. Ergo, it's not cloying. It still has a full body and a lush (not dry) finish - which means it obviously isn't the most crushable beer. Yeastiness (in spite of the huge amount of dregs poured into the glass) is actually well restrained. Also restrained is the carbonation.

O: Port City's beers (barring their damn good porter) always seem to be somewhat forgettable - there's nothing wrong with any of them, they're just usually devoid of excitement. This is much of the same. It's a decent brew, but a bit dull. I wouldn't seek it out, personally.

May 11, 2014
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delta490 from Virginia

4.04/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy deep brown with reddish tint. There's about a finger of creamy light tan head that doesn't last too long, but does linger on and leaves a wee bit of lacing. The aroma is pretty mild, with just some slight malt hints but nothing definitive. The flavor makes up for it, though. There's a robust roasted malt flavor with some nice dark caramel and little earthy hops on the finish. It's got a nice full fulling on the palate and a little bit of carbonation. Overall, a good to very good Scottish ale.

Update: they must have tweaked the recipe. The head lasts a good long while and the aroma has a little more oomph, as does the taste.

Mar 17, 2014
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xylomaniac from Virginia

4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really like this ale. Full malty flavor with so many breweries throwing in hops its nice to have a great tasting beer which quenches the thirst with some great beer flavor. Though the hops are ever so alightly sensed on the nose you don't really catch them on the tongue. This would pare well with a good burger.

Jun 30, 2013
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mactrail from Washington

3.44/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Handsome coppery color in the tall nonic, with a very nice head. Warm, malty brew, though no trace of smoke. Plenty of roasted malt flavors, with a very light body. Quite quaffable but not particularly interesting. Very slight bitterish tang. The hops have that fruity taste.

Brewer says this is made with five malts and Fuggles hops, and rates the IBUs at 24. On tap at the brewery on the outskirts of Alexandria.

Jun 20, 2013
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MrIncognito from Virginia

3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle

A - Slightly hazy red mahogony body beneath a 1-finger, tight-bubbled khaki head that fades rather quickly but leaves decent lacing. Light carbonation with small bubbles slowly rising up the side fo the glass

S - Malt-forward with maybe just a hint of hops. Caramel and swedish fish with a roasted finish.

T & M - Taste follows the smell but almost no hop bitterness which creates a smooth and creamy taste. Nice a malty and just a touch of sweetness that is by no means cloying. Mostly caramel malt with just a hint of milk chocolate. Light carbonation creates a nice, smooth mouthfeel that leaves the beer feeling wet as opposed to dry.

O - not overly complex but a very nice, tasty Scottish Ale. A growing favorite style of mine. I definitely enjoyed this and could easily session it.

Apr 16, 2013
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Dave1999 from North Carolina

3.56/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is dark with a red tint with a small white head.

The smell is interesting dark caramel malts and burnt wood.

The taste is burnt caramel, pepper, a bit of grass on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation.

Not a terrible beer but definately my least favourite of port city's beers.

Apr 02, 2013
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TechTriumph from Virginia

3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes on 04/17/12:
Bottle code: 0412 A1 0238; Poured in a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass.

A - One inch off-white bubbly head with so-so retention; Dark oak brown color with a semi-hazy appearance; Minimal spots of lacing here and there

S - Notes of raspberry-like fruits, butterscotch, sugary malts, maple syrup, and subtle amounts of cherry, wood-like character, and alcohol

T - Raspberry-like fruits come through, just like the aroma, with herbal, sugary malt, rich thick caramel, and lots of sweet bready flavors; Detect a light smoky quality as well

M - A few notches below moderate carbonation; Medium bodied; Leaves a lingering sugary, syrupy sweet film on the tongue

O - This beer is a pretty solid seasonal offering from Port City. The flavor was pretty enjoyable, containing a good level of sweetness that didn't reach the point of being cloying. While this probably isn't a must-have for me, I do appreciate trying new Virginia seasonal brews, especially in a style that's less prevalent like this offering.

Jun 24, 2012
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WMEugene from Virginia

4.08/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a brownish amber with a decent sized head (good retention) and very nice lacing.

S - Sweet malt notes. Caramel notes. A little earthy as well. A bit of a roasted character. Nice, but not particularly strong.

T - Much like the nose, it has a strong malty and caramel presence. A bit of dark fruits and toffee as well. Has just a bit of earthy notes in the finish.

M - Very smooth, just a tad over medium bodied. Very drinkable.

O - The Tartan Ale is another solid offering from Port City. A great, very drinkable offering that most everyone should enjoy.

May 07, 2012
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Smakawhat from Maryland

3.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Off caramel/white head is produced with lots of snappy sounding foamy and bubbles. Fairly good three finger size there but settles rather quickly. Body color has lots of cola sized sticking bubbles to the glass and a dark red amber body.

Nose seems rather interesting. Kind of a woody malt, faint sweet backbone, a little bit of toast quality also.

A real good juicy mouthfeel on this and dense malt, but strangely flavor wise it doesn't seem to come forward. Nice rolling malts, a sense of sweet sticky breadiness, still can't get over the density on this low abv.

Overall though highly drinkable and worth trying. Certainly can enjoy it.

Mar 28, 2012
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drabmuh from Maryland

3.48/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

In an effort to drink all the beers from a few local breweries, I ordered this on draft tonight. Served in a snifter.

Beer is ruby and clear with a nice white head of small bubbles, some lacing, nice retention, low carbonation.

Aroma is a little weak, a little sweet, mild caramel notes.

Beer is medium in body and sweet, subtle flavors and that is to say, not many flavors at all. Not a great beer but it was drinkable, I won't have it again.

Mar 27, 2012
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mdfb79 from New York

3.61/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 03/24/12 notes. Have passed on 6ers of this so glad to get to try it. Had on tap at RFD, served in a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark reddish amber color with one inch of off white head and low to moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of dark fruits, bready malts, grains, biscuit malts, light butter. Not a ton going on but some sweet fruits. Not bad at all, but pretty average.

t - Tastes of sweet dark fruits, fruity malts, bready malts, caramel malts, biscuit malts, grains, toffee. Much better then the nose, more caramel and sweet fruits.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Smooth and easy to drink but a bit undercarbonated.

o - Overall a decent beer from Port City. Not my favorite of their seasonals, as I found the nose a bit bland, but the taste made up for it. Nice fruity taste, probably wouldn't pick up a 6er of this one but worth checking out once or twice. I'd rank this slightly below Tidings in terms of liking their seasonal beers, with their Oktoberfest being the best by far.

Mar 26, 2012
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Jimmys from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into tulip.

A: dark mahogany. frothy head has pink tints to it. retention is good. pretty clear.

S: a little smoky wisps. crystalized sugars. brown and in the raw.

T: tons of caramel sweet flavors start things off. similar to the nose there are little wisps of smoke on the palate. they actually linger a little into the finish.

M: moderate amount of fizz on a lightish/medium body.

D: a well-made scottish ale from port city. the minor smokey notes add an appreciated layer of complexity. certainly worth trying.

Mar 25, 2012
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Rhettroactive from Pennsylvania

3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 3/20/12
*From notes

A: Rich copper tone. A generous pour yields a 1.75 finger off-white head decent lacing.

S: Old world is a good way to put it. It really does smell like an old school European malt-first ale. Is that something really all that desirable, though? Meh - but for what it is, it ain't bad. Lots of earth floor, and you can literally feel the malts scratching your nostrils.

T: Rustic. Buttery bread and medium toasted grains make for a very malt forward profile. Inoffensive, and even better the longer it sits.

M: Not half bad, yet it goes without saying that Port City isn't rewriting the mouthfeel book with this one.

O: A pretty decent little ale. Port City is really coming around with their seasonal line up. An above average session beer for the malt men (and ladies) out there. It'd be a treat to share this with friends on a lazy Spring afternoon.

Mar 22, 2012
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siege06nd from Virginia

3.78/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From bottle to Great Lakes British pint glass...

A: The first thing I notice on this is the color. What a wonderful, vibrant ruby tone this one has. Mostly clear with just a touch of haze. Half finger of off-white head that dwindles to a quarter finger. Lacing is thick and gobby. Looks really good.

S: I'm detecting baked bread and caramel, with subtle floral and fruity hints. Nice.

T: Baked biscuit, charred grains, hints of caramel and fruit. Not very complex, but when the flavors are on point (as they are here), that's not a problem.

M: A touch thin. Medium bodied, but fairly agressive carbonation covers up a lot of the flavors. Finish leaves something to be desired.

O: A decent Scottish Ale here. Very light-drinking for the style, but the malt profile could use a little bit more depth and complexity. Definitely one to try, but not one I would want to have multiples of in a sitting. This would be a great six-pack to bring along to a party where you are looking to introduce folks to craft beer.

Mar 18, 2012
Tartan Ale from Port City Brewing
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 98 ratings