Backwoods Bastard

Style: Bourbon barrel aged Scotch ale.wpid-20150413_075543.jpg

ABV: 10.2%

Price: $15/4 pack (The Party Source)

Note: Annual release (November)

Thanks to Mike for this bottle!

Appearance: Murky brown with a slowly fading creamy head.

Nose: Whiskey, dark toasted malt, oak, smoke.

Palate: Molasses, licorice, burn toast.

Finish: Rye-recipe bourbon, oak, charcoal.

Parting words: This bottle was a gift from a former neighbor. He’s a big beer nerd (among other things) and he and his fiancée Connie are two of my favorite people. I’m a big fan of bourbon barrel aged beer and this is one of the best I’ve had. It’s very well balanced. I can taste the beer and I can taste what the barrel brings to the party as well. The flavors are perfectly intergrated into a seamless whole. This is a fantastic beer, like just about everything Founders does. Backwoods Bastard is highly recommended.

Under the Kilt

Maker: Dragonmead, Warren, Michigan, USALabelWeeHeavy

Style: Scottish Ale, Wee Heavy

ABV: 7.8%

Appearance: Chestnut brown with a big frothy head.

Nose: Malty, slightly fruity, a little boozy.

On the palate: Medium mouth feel. Like a piece of slightly burnt berry pie chased with a shot of Wild Turkey. Roasty, fruity and boozy.

Finish: Slightly sweet, but mostly bitter, but not hoppy, more like burnt toast. Lingers for a good long time.

Parting words: This is a fairly good beer but not a very good one. It comes in four pack boxes for a pretty high price, well over $10 (I forgot how much exactly). Even accounting for the high ABV, that’s too much. As for the style, maybe I don’t know enough about what a Scottish ale is supposed to taste like, but this seems a little off when compared to other examples from Michigan like Dirty Bastard or Scotty Karate. I’m on the fence with this one. It wasn’t terrible but factoring in the price and style problems, I can’t recommend Under the Kilt.

Loch Down Scotch Ale

Maker: Arcadia, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA

Style: Scotch Ale

ABV: 8%

Appearance: Dark coffee brown, with a good head with an ivory foam.

Nose: Caramel-chocolate chip brownies

On the palate: Full-bodied. A nice hit of bitter chocolate or maybe full city roast coffee. This is tempered by just the right amount of sweetness, to bring a smile to the drinker’s face, instead of a grimace. Very nicely done.

Parting Words: This is the last of our little run of Michigan-made Scotch ales and it’s nice to be ending on a high note. This is a fine, hearty, porter-esque Scotch ale that works well with food or as a meal in itself. When Arcadia plays to its strengths, British ales, it’s the finest brewery in Michigan. Highly recommended.

Ole Ore Dock Scottish Ale

Maker: Keweenaw, South Range, Michigan

Style: Scotch Ale

ABV: ???

Appearance: Medium hazy brown. Nice, but not obnoxious head.

Nose: Fruity and sweet but pretty mild.

On the palate: vVry tangy like tomato ketchup. Nearing the finish a bitter note runs out of the bushes, slaps you in the face and then
runs away laughing.

Finish: The finish is mercifully short and unremarkable.

Parting Words: First let me say that I have loved everything else I have ever had from Keweenaw. That said, this is an awful beer. It’s like drinking cheap, over-sweet, half-spoiled tomato ketchup, but worse. Buy loads of beer from Keweenaw, but don’t buy this until it gets fixed. Terrible.

Scotty Karate

Maker: Dark Horse, Marshall, Michigan

Style: Scotch Ale

ABV: 9.75%

Appearance: Dark reddish brown with a moderate

Nose: Sweet and a little tangy, with a hint of City Roast coffee but not quite Full City.

On the palate: Medium bodied, Surprisingly sweet and fruity. This is a more complex beer than Dirty Bastard, but lacks a bit in subtlety. The tang and bitterness both seem to be turned up to 11 instead of harmonizing.

Finish: The bitterness takes the lead in the finish. The sweetness perseveres in the form of a slight stickyness on the lips.

Parting words: Like I mentioned above Scotty Karate lacks in subtlety, but makes up for it in complexity and just overall interest. This is a very well-done beer, works well with or without food and is highly recommended.

Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Style: Scotch Ale

ABV: 8.5%

Appearance: Dark brown like over-steeped Ceylon tea.

Nose: I know it sounds bizarre, but my first thought was home-made French fries. A little bitter, a little burnt, but sweet and starchy.

On the palate: Full-bodied and rich. Well balanced with sweet toffee and caramel backed up by some of that bitter, burnt starch taste.

Finish: The bitterness teeters on the edge of unpleasantness but never quite falls into the abyss.

Parting words: This is a very dry Scotch Ale, but it still is able to maintain good balance between the bitter roasted flavors and the caramel and candy flavors. A good solid ale.

Review: Faoch Heather Ale

Maker: Williams Bros. Brewing, Alloa, Scotland

ABV: 5%

Fun Fact: I was friends with a girl named Heather Beers in college.

Cloudy gold

Faint, but some malt, and fresh floral (I’m assuming heather) notes

On the palate
Nice full body, silky sweet with a good bit of bitterness, maybe some floral notes.

The finish is where the heather comes to the fore. It’s long and vibrant but fades very quickly at the end.

Parting words
This ale is less than I expected, actually. I’m not sure if the tradition of heather ales really does go back 4,000+ years like the label says, but I hope it was more interesting back in the Bronze Age. It’s not bad really. But I found myself having to search for the heather flavors to the point where I am not actually certain that I tasted them. It does have some good bitterness and a lot of body. Not a bad pour if you’re curious, but not necessarily worth seeking out.

Review: Belhaven Scottish Ale

(tasted with fried, leftover haggis.  No, seriously)

Maker: Belhaven, Dunbar, Scotland

ABV: 5.2%

Color: Auburn

Nose: Malty, a bit sour

On the palate: Nice, thick, heavy mouthfeel.  Rich, toasty malt, lightly sweet, with a bit of a sour note.

Finish: Lingering maltiness, the sour note migrates to the cheeks and hangs about for a long time.

Parting words

Pairs very nicely with haggis.  The toasted malt of the ale is a great counterpoint to the gamey, livery flavor of the offal.  The sour note is not quite to the level where I would call it a fault, but enough to make me wonder if it is not supposed to be there.  Perhaps it was a result of the long trip to Michigan.  Nevertheless, Belhaven is a fine, rich, enjoyable ale.