Malt whisky and pristine water are not the only libations in Caledonia, as these Scottish beers demonstrate.
Belhaven Scottish Ale
Aromas of heather honey and citrus mark the nose on this light, drinkable ale. Neither as deep nor brooding a classic Scottish “wee heavy,” it’s more a quaff for a long summer’s eve. As fresh as the wind up your kilt.
Brew Dog Punk IPA
In a blind tasting I would guess that this lean, hopped-up thrasher rolled straight off California’s North Coast on a skateboard. It bristles with more hops than a slacker’s arm does with barbed-wired tattoos, but on the way down the gullet it delivers substantial weight and texture, demanding respect. Spiked hair and nose ring optional; just drink this stuff.
Brew Dog The Physics Amber Beer
As close to a session beer as these guys will probably ever make, this amiable amber is intriguingly foxy on the nose, although a quick slosh around the glass brings out the raw-egg-and-vanilla notes of an old-fashioned homemade milkshake. It follows through on the palate with round malty flavors and a tingle of hops calculated to make you take another gulp.
Brew Dog Hardcore IPA
The record-shattering nose just keeps on tantalizing: poached egg (and a whiff of bacon?), Juicy Fruit gum, cotton candy, axle grease. One of the most amazing noses on any beer I’ve yet encountered, it reveals profound new depths with each pass. The palate is as polished and classic as a Louis XVI armoire, with lacquery tones and flavors of Parisian café-au-lait, evaporated milk and bee’s wax. A masterpiece.
McEwan’s Scotch Ale
As securely traditional as Brew Dog is in-your-face modern, this “80 shilling” ale (a type designated by the old tax rate on beer) has Victorian-era notes of malt vinegar on the nose that won’t be to everyone’s taste. But take the plunge into its wealth of flavors and character, and you'll feel you've stepped into Sir Walter Scott’s world. It all goes down on a texture like black velvet.
SCOTTISH & NEWCASTLE
Traquair House Ale
Traquair House was already brewing a well-known strong ale when Mary Queen of Scots visited here in 1566. It’s the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland, but the brewery had been idle for more than 200 years when it was restored in 1965 by the 20th Laird of Traquair. With a peppery nose, this medium-bodied ale stays crisp and lively on the palate in spite of its depth.
MERCHANT DU VIN