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Heavy Horse Scotch Ale | Big Sky Brewing Company

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very good
111 Reviews
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Heavy Horse Scotch AleHeavy Horse Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by brownbeer on 03-31-2010

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Reviews: 111 | Ratings: 252
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a decent scotch ale. smells and tastes very very malty, with very little of the earthy depth many of these style beers showcase. palate is a little on the sweet side, with a touch of the alcohol coming through. almost tastes and feels like a barleywine in that respect, very grainy, in a good way. mouthfeel is good, i like the fuller body on this one, and the fairly heavy carbonation i think serves it quite well. this isnt my favorite scotch ale, or even my favorite big sky beer, but its sessionable for a its style and its one that works with all kinds of food, so i will probably grab this one again if i see it.

 618 characters

Photo of LXIXME
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an inch or so above the glass leaves a nice big light brown head that settles into a pretty decent lacing above a clear dark burnt reddish colored beer.

Butterscotch, and roasted caramelized malt aroma with a slight alcohol hint aroma is transfer to the taste just about the same, maybe a touch more alcohol in the taste.

The aftertaste of this medium bodied ale is a light dry with hints of alcohol, I was pretty pleased with this beer, you should check it out if given the opportunity.

 501 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.46/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tap at The Bridge in St. Louis.

A - Poured a burgundy color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. It had good retention and left sheets of lace on the glass.

S - Not a lot going on here. A little malt. Some earthy notes. All very mild.

T - It was a little nutty with some good caramel maltiness. Nice earthy/grassy hops.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale.

D - This is a nice wee heavy. I've had better, but it was worth a try.

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Photo of mothman
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper bronze color. Tan head. Caramel and toffee malts. Light smokey and peat which is nice. Some fruity notes and molasses mixed in. Fairly easy to drink for a Scottish ale.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, best before 11/21/2013. Pours crystal clear deep ruby red color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, fig, apple, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light chocolate, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, raisin, fig, apple, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, chocolate, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, dark fruit, toast, toffee, chocolate, brown bread, brown sugar, light roast, and herbal on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of malt and yeast ester flavors; with great robustness and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, moderately slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent scotch ale. All around great balance and complexity of malt and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"The stable wears out a horse more than the road."

--French proverb

Brick red with glittering topaz highlights and an attractive slice of buttered wheat toast colored foam. The head develops a moonscape surface as it melts, while a high collar of lace is the only glass decoration so far. A single shredded sheet sticks... eventually.

The nose is somewhat underpowered and lacks an olfactory hook. It's brown-caramel malty and earthy, with just enough boldness and definition with warming to earn the above score. There's work to be done on the palate.

Heavy Horse Scotch Ale favors the light end of the style spectrum in terms of both malt content and ABV. It's also darker than most wee heavies (which tend to showcase mid-range malts like caramel), thanks to the use of chocolate and roasted malt. Let's call it two parts light Scotch ale to one part Scottish stout.

All things considered, BSBC HHSA is pretty good beer, but I'm not sure it deserves the solidly good taste score. As in the nose, time and warming are helping to turn up the intensity knob a bit. Flavors include caramel, cocoa, baked nuts and bitter tea leaves. This must be a fairly fresh bottle since there were only 20 IBUs to start.

The mouthfeel is easily big enough for the ABV and has the well-calibrated carbonation that is a hallmark of this brewery. No complaints here.

Big Sky deserves more love than they typically get. Their IPA is still one of my favorites, and they knock a few other offerings out of the park as well. Heavy Horse Scotch Ale, despite not being the bee's knees, is still good beer that is enjoyable to drink. Nothing else really matters in the end.

 1,655 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

caramel in color with a light tan head on top that reached a height of around an inch before fading and leaving the top of the glass mostly bare. Light lacing on the sides as well. Aroma was spectacular. Rich notes of caramel and toffee, oozing with butterscotch and sweet herbal notes. Light hint of a boozy alcohol touch to it at well, but it played out quite nicely. The first sip made me fall back in my chair. Simply brilliant. Rich butterscotch and toffee flavors roll across the tongue. Enormously sweet like a wonderful piece of hard candy, each sip seemed more compelling then the one before it. Sublime. Nice herbal hop notes playing it up quite well and the smooth, delicate caramel finish with a light touch of booziness is just what the doctor ordered

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Photo of russpowell
3.59/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours chestnut/brown with a pinky of tan head. Bellow average head retention & lacing

S: Faint plummyness & some leafy hops, more fruittyness at the end...

T: Figs, slight cherry flavor & toffee up front, along with dryness & abit of brown sugar. Much sweet maltyness with caramel && figgy notes dominating as this warms, along a subtle smokeyness/peat/tanin flavor. Finishes sooo dry, figgy with slight peat notes

MF: Medium bodied, low carbonation, becomes chewier once warm

Pretty easy drinker, but there's just not enough here to get too excited about. I expected more from Big Sky

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Devil's Backbone willibecher.

Watching the Bears rock the Panthers (so far) and listening to the only song that's appropriate (that's right, kiddies, it's Jethro Tull's "Heavy Horses"!). The beer pours a clear ruby brown topped by a finger of ecru foam. The nose comprises caramel, figs, rye bread, wheat, raisins, and red grapes. The taste is very similar, with a hint of buttered biscuits and light flowers thrown into the mix. The body is a nice medium, with a sharp light moderate carbonation and a lightly chewy feel. Overall, a very nice scotch ale, a tasty treat from this Montana brewery.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.99/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Heavy Horse is a good Scotch Ale....not to heavy and not to sweet. The beer pours a clear brownish amber with thin off-white head that is leaving a spotty lace. The scent has sweet malt and touches of peat and scotch. The taste is a nice even beer with heavy malt backbone with a touch of honey sweetiness. The mouthfeel is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall the beer is good...and definitely sessionable.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a shiny but deep hazelnut color. Looks rich, head is fluffy and off-tan. Lacing could use more stick.

Malty aroma, but a bit light for the style. I would say more estery than earthy. Some slightly smoked caramel.

Yeah, this is a "fruity" earthy beer. Hard to explain. The malt is slighly smoked and sweet, with prune or plum backings. Raisin is too sweet for description. Good flavors, just a bit off for style, imho.

This makes the Feel a bit light, too. Otherwise it's darn good. Glad I have 5 more...

 512 characters

Photo of Tone
4.04/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark brown color. 1/3 inch head of an off-tan color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, caramel malt, slight roasted malt, slight yeast, and slight alcohol. Fits the style of a Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with a low carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, hint slight alcohol, slight yeast, slight roasted malt, hint of tea, and caramel malt. Overall, good appearance, aroma, great feel, and good blend.

 476 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad to see a new Big Sky beer in Texas.

The beer pours a clear, deep red color with a tan head. A great looking beer. The aroma is very malty with a lot of toffee and caramel malt. I also get some dark fruit and a little bit of peet smoke. The flavor is also extremely malty. I get toffee, caramel, chocolate, dark fruit, cream, a little smoke and a little alcohol. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

 408 characters

Photo of stevoj
3.19/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Nutty aroma with hints of peat and oak barrel. Pours light brown with average beige head. Taste is more peat, wood, smoke, kind of dry palate. Not bad.

 151 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.47/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 4/2011 notes. Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a dark red amber. Slight head, but some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt, caramel and slight dark fruit. Flavor starts as with sweet and caramel malt some dark fruit, somewhat nutty. Finish is a bit dry and sour with a little bit of hop kick. Initial flavors are nice, but the finish is not great. There are better Scotch ales out there

 401 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A new bottled offering from Big Sky... Cool. Picked up on the way home from work at Brewforia.

Poured into my Old Guardian goblet... 2 finger lite tan head... good retention and great lacing... the brew is a polished deeeep amber.

Nose shows good maltiness with pretty pronounced caramel... earthy... dark toast...

Flavor is more rich than I was expecting from Big Sky (I'm not a Big Sky hater, it's just the truth)... good expected elements... rich malts... caramel combines well with some minor and hard to identify fruity esters (I will guess plummy?)... a bit of "black tea like" tannins on the finish that meshes well with the residual maltiness.

Pretty standard body with a medium carbonation.

Good.... pretty good... I always have a hard time with Scottish style beers and feel like I undervalue them, but this is pretty good and a nice contemplative sipper if you take your time on the glass.


 921 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Clear brown colored beer with a small light brown colored head.

Smell is sweet and malty with a moderate amount of smoke. Smells of scorched grain and burnt sugar. That is about all for the smell.

Starts out sweet and smoky with a fair taste of burnt sugar. Smoke gets stronger as you drink this. Stout bitterness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is quite thick, think Oatmeal Stout type thick.

Drinkability is fairly good. This covers all the things you expect in a Wee Heavy. Only problem is it isn't outstanding. This is an excellent gateway beer or example of the style without being extreme in anyway. I probably will purchase this again.

 643 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.05/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in a dimple mug)
A- This beer has a deep slightly dense glowing caramel brown body with a light tan head supported by a gentle carbonation.

S- The clean aroma has hints of soft brown malt but not much else.

T- The woody caramel flavor is dry that taste a bit oxidized and a water taste to follow. There is a brown malt note in the finish with a faint black roasted hint that lingers for a brief second.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a gentle carbonation

O- The flavor is very soft and a bit thin with some stale characterizes. I didn’t taste any of the rich malt flavor or any pot caramel or any of the other wonderful characteristics of a scotch ale.

 671 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
3.1/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- this pours a deep copper-red with a 2 finger head of foam. It looks gorgeous.

S- lots of malt in the smell...caramel, some toffee, a bit of a nutty aroma.

T- heavy on the toffee, lots of sweetness, huge grain note, light nuttiness. That grain and sweet malt is a bit overpowering.

M- I'd call it full bodied with the right level of carbonation.

O- aptly named brew...Heavy. Too heavy on most counts and not something I'd buy/drink again.

 444 characters

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +13%

Prying off the cap releases spicy British malt aromas with a touch of roast.
It pours deep bright mahogany under a 2" rocky tan head that slowly collapses to 1/2" and leaves thick lines of lace on the glass marking each drink.
With the first sip dark sugars, dark caramel to toffee, some dark malts, a little roast, and a light nuttiness seasoned with British malt spices and light grain roll over the tongue to finish with a medium firm hop accent.
The body is medium to a little above and the carbonation is a hair below medium.

 530 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.47/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color is a tawny caramel with some very thin and sparse latte foam. One column of tiny bubbles rising to the top.

Sweet, super toasted malt and a lot of dark fruits like plums, raisins, black cherries, prunes, and others I can't name make up the nose. Plus a little heat from the abv.

The sip has a juicey palate that moves to something more syrupy in the middle. The taste starts with carbonated toasted bread crust. The middle is just an explosion of caramelized fruit. The finish adds some alcoholic heat that gives this beer a sort of liquer like finish.

 566 characters

Photo of barnzy78
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz, best by date bottle stamped 071015
A - creamy beige head holds good retention atop a mahogany colored ale
S - malty nose - smells like a scotch ale with peat, earth, dark caramel, bread
T - very sweet with caramel, bread, brown sugar, peat, and earthy hops
M - medium body, smooth, and creamy; slightly peppery on the finish
O - this wasn't bad, but was cloyingly sweet at times. Pretty good representation of the style but I won't be buying it again.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours mahogany color with a one finger head of fizzy off-white foam. The head fades rather rapidly, leaving a decent sum of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is very sweet with a ton of caramel, toffee, and some butterscotch. These sweet aromas are complimented by some lighter dark fruit smells of a cherry and plum nature as well as some bready aromas that has a lighter level of a toast smell mixed within. Overall the aroma is quite sweet and very inviting.

Taste – The taste begins as the nose would have let on, with a good sum of a rather caramel and toffee sweetness. Some lighter dark fruit flavors of raisin are there as well, mixing with the slightly bready flavors of the brew nicely. As the taste advances the fruit fades a bit all while with the caramel taking on some more buttery tastes leaving the sweet to take a slightly more butterscotch flavor overall. All the while however, more roast comes to the tongue, which along with it, brings some molasses. A hint of an earthy hop hits the tongue at the very end, mixing with the slightly more roasted and sweet flavors of the brew nicely and leaving one with a quite pleasant flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly thinner side for the 6.7 % abv. scotch ale with it containing a carbonation level that is rather average to a little bit higher. For the style I would have likes a slightly thicker body and bit of a lower carbonation to allow for a more sticky feel for the more sugary and slightly roasted flavors of the brew, but even with that said the feel was pretty good overall and it did make for a rather easy drinking style.

Overall – A quite tasty scotch ale that isn’t too overwhelming. The flavors and smell are fantastic but a little thicker of a body may have slightly more fitting. Overall though it was a rather good drinker.

 1,970 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.77/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Sprecher nonic. 6.7% ABV, 237102, 231210 printed on the bottle stacked on the neck.

A - Heavy Horse pours with a gorgeous bronzed ruby mahogany color with perfect clarity and is topped off by an incredible dense khaki head. Great retention despite no carbonation bubbles through the beer and thick, Swiss-cheese-like lace caked to the glass. Perfection is appearance.

S - Heavy Horse has a classic aroma of toasted malt with notes of caramel, toffee, and a pinch of nuttiness but is hindered by a dry, strong mineral finish.

T - Malt driven with very tasty toffee notes playing with gooey caramel and a dense breadiness. A lingering sweetness with underlying nuttiness is golden here. The mineral flavor barley comes through.

M - Medium-bodied and very smooth with a slick finish that's only held back by a seemingly absent, (in reality, it's just low) carbonation level.

D - A slow starting but powerful horse this beer is, Heavy Horse certainly pulls it's weight. Tasty and absolutely gorgeous, it's not a perfect brew, but it's a treat of a scotch ale nonetheless.

 1,099 characters

Photo of ccrida
2.4/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On draught at The Viking in Spokane, served in a mug, Heavy Horse is dark chestnut with a small off-white head that leaves light, scattered lace.

Smell is pretty sweet, some pie spices as well as caramel. Bit buttery as well.

Taste is less sweet, but this is still all about the malt. The diacetyl is more pronounced, and not that good. There's also a booziness to it, it tastes *a lot* like a watered down bourbon and coke.

Mouthfeel is medium light, flacid.

Drinkability isn't too high, didn't like this beer, some off-flavors, leaving me not impressed.

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Heavy Horse Scotch Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.76 out of 5 based on 252 ratings.
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