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Monday, March 7, 2011

Alexander Keith's Tartan Ale Review

About a week ago I got a strange e-mail with nothing but a white box and a short e-mail if I am puzzled about this and how if I replied with my address, I would get the answer. At first it seemed suspicious, but when I saw that the name Alexander Keith was involved, I responded. Just a few days later there was a yellow envelope sitting on my doorstep. In this envelope was a cylinder of bubble wrap and in this bubble wrap was a bottle wrapped in what can only be described as a piece of a burlap sack. I loved the packaging.

So what was the bottle? It was a sample of the new Alexander Keith's Brewmaster's limited release beer - Tartan Ale. Look at that cap.

This scotch ale is said to be inspired by the heritage of the man himself and brewed according to the original scotch ale process. I obviously wanted to drink this beer right then and there, but I decided to wait until the weekend.

So when the time came, I grabbed the proper glassware and opened the bottle...which is a twist off by the way. The beer poured smoothly with a lively thin head. It is amber in color and by the looks of it, well carbonated. Right away I could tell that this is no ordinary Alexander Keith's. The aroma is different than their other beers with a lot of malt, some dried fruit sweetness and some caramel. A sip reveals the malty character of the beer along with a bit of sweetness from caramel and dried fruits and just a bit of yeast. The finish malty with a light roasted touch. For those used to regular Alexander Keith's beers, this would be a definite twist.

I cannot stop there though. I was expecting more to be perfectly honest. The taste is on the weak side. Scotch ales that I have had in the past have always had a bold, malty aroma that punches you with all its might the moment a drop hits your tongue. This, though packing some flavor, is a bit weaker than expected. You still get a taste of all the good stuff, but it seems to me that this should have been aged a bit longer or had some extra ingredients added.

After giving it some thought, I may be able to see why the flavors have been downplayed. Many people like lagers and pilseners for their clean and simple taste. I think that the Tartan Ale is aimed at those people so the flavors had to be kept simple. When I have scotch ales, I can only drink one at a time because of the flavor, but when I was done with this bottle, I felt like I could drink another one. This scotch ale may not be for beer snobs, but it feels like a stepping stone for those used to the regular Alexander Keith's, a stepping stone towards maltier and heavier beers.

Cost - unknown
Taste - 7/10
ABV - 6.1%

Overall - 7/10...great try for Alexander Keith's. I like seeing breweries trying different brews to capture a wider audience

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