About Scottish Beer

Scotland: Malty Ales

Much like its culture, Scotland has managed to preserve a distinct brewing identity separate from that of England. The Scottish preference is for soft, sweetish malt-accented ales with low hop bittering. Scotch ales vary, with recipes ranging from medieval to avant-garde, especially among the emerging craft breweries around the country.

In earlier days, Scotch ales were shipped to all corners of the Empire. However, today many of the independent breweries that once made Edinburgh one of Britain’s greatest brewing centers are no longer in operation. Popular breweries with products exported to the United States include BrewDog from Fraserburgh, The Caledonian Brewing Company in Edinburgh and Belhaven from East Lothian.
Top Picks for Scotland
Traquair House Brewery
Traquair Jacobite Ale
Dark brown color. Complex spicy aromas and flavors of coriander, mace, cinnamon, pink peppercorn, turmeric, cocoa and peach-date bread with a rich, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a long, chocolate toffee, radish, mocha, and heather accented finish. Amazing complexity and integration of flavors.
Date Tasted: 10/9/2013 in our Chicago tasting lab
Tennent Caledonian Breweries
Tennent's Gluten Free 1885 Lager
Bright gold color. Inviting aromas and flavors of toast and cheese soufflé with a supple, crisp, frothy, dryish medium body and a mildly astringent, appealing, medium length finish with notes of dried fruit and peppery spice. A rock solid gluten free beer that tastes like a very nice, regular lager.
Date Tasted: 9/4/2014 in our Chicago tasting lab
Innis & Gunn Brewing Company
Lager Beer
Pale light brilliant light gold color. Delicate, yeasty, grainy herbal curious aromas and flavors of egg sandwich, salty roasted corn, and pear skin with a supple, crisp, fizzy, fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length melon, apple, sweet cream, and grass finish. A very tasty, nicely fruity lager that is super sessionable.
Date Tasted: 11/10/2015 in our Chicago tasting lab
Innis & Gunn Brewing Company
Scottish Porter
Dark brown color. Delicate aromas of chocolate nuts, dried fruit, roasted parsnip, and vanilla hazelnut coffee with a silky, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a smooth, interesting, medium length toasted meringue, chestnut brittle, fig pastry, and cocoa puff finish. A rock solid porter with an appealing sweet roasted character.
Date Tasted: 9/15/2014 in our Chicago tasting lab
Orkney Brewery
Red MacGregor Ale
Deep reddish copper color. Aromas of lemongrass, dried flowers, and herb bread with a crisp, dryish medium-to-full body and a frothy pine and citrusy hops driven finish with hints of melon, cocoa nuts, and turned earth. Lively and stimulating in a India brown style.
Date Tasted: 7/18/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab
Traquair House Brewery
Traquair House Ale
Dark brown color. Aromas of chocolate nuts, molasses and scone with a supple dry-yet-fruity medium body and a grainy, dried fruit compote, peppercorn, dried banana and grass accented finish. A beautifully styled and balanced.
Date Tasted: 3/6/2013 in our Chicago tasting lab
Williams Bros. Brewing Co.
Midnight Sun Porter
Dark brown black color. Interesting piney, barky, sassafras, peppered jerky, and cola sorbet like aromas with a plush, zesty dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a tangy, chocolate covered citrus, spice, and buttered herb bread accented finish. Tons of fun, flavorful character for sipping on its own or with rich foods.
Date Tasted: 7/17/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab
Innis & Gunn Brewing Company
Oloroso Cask Oak Aged Beer
Golden amber color. Aromas and flavors of peach-raisin chutney, buttercream frosting, and roasted almonds with a chewy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a nicely balanced sweet and salty pasty and pepper finish. Tasty and refreshing with intriguing layers of flavor.
Date Tasted: 1/15/2014 in our Chicago tasting lab
Williams Bros. Brewing Co.
Alba Scots Pine Ale
Pretty copper color. Aromas of bread dough, ground nuts, herbal lozenge and pine cone with a satiny fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body and a chewy, bitter, fruit caramel, nutskin, and delicate green bark accented finish. An interesting rustic table beer; pair with rabbit stew.
Date Tasted: 7/10/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab
Williams Bros. Brewing Co.
Ginger Beer
Pale golden amber color. Attractive aromas of honey butter, ginger and macadamia gelatos with a sweet medium body and a crystallized ginger finish. A nicely balanced, easy drinking ginger beer.
Date Tasted: 7/10/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab