Beer Review: Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor

ON to the third beer from The Orkney Brewry and this one is called Red MacGregor.
Bottle of Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor

Again, I hugely recommend that you read my first review of Orkney Brewery beer because this one sticks to much the same formula for the label. And if beers from Quoyloo, Stromness in the Orkney Islands particularly interest you, don’t forget my recent review of Orkney Dark Island.

This bottle, like so many others, is 500 millilitres, so have a pint glass ready. At 4% volume, this bottle will also give you 2.0 of your government approved alcohol units. The front reveals that this is a Ruby Ale. To date, I’ve only had one ruby ale from Wychwood. It wasn’t quite to my taste, but it was still quite good. So I approach Red MacGregor with curiosity.

Also on the front label, below an illustration of waves lashing a cliff face is the every helpful ‘authenticity stamp’. Why is it I only see these on Scottish drinks? On that ‘stamp’ is a concise description of the drink: “An intensely hoppy, ruby red beer with a delicious, delicate aroma and a rich, rewarding palate.”
Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor front label

The rear label too, as all Orkney Brewery beers do, expands on this. This is useful, as it gives something to judge it by. Words it uses to describe the smell include “floral”, “fruity”, “toffee” and “caramel”. That’s a box of Quality Street, isn’t it? For the taste, words it uses include “malt” (three times in fact) and “spicy hop”. People who know their ruby ale, write in to say if that sounds right to you.
Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor back label

Also on the rear label is mention of an accolade of note. This was apparently the first Scottish beer to win the BIIA World Cask Beer Gold Medal. As with Orkney’s other beers, this is award winning. And even better, we know what award it’s won. Very good, Orkney.

Poured into a glass, we get a good creamy, frothy head. Not over the top however. This is a well behaved head. In colour, you can just about call it ‘red’ or ‘ruby’. But only just. It’s not as red as perhaps I had been expecting.
Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor in a glass

When it comes to smell, it is as complicated as I like my ales to be. I can’t dispute all the things that they claim to be in there. But to my untrained nose, what I can smell is malt, hops, and a hint of flowers and fruit.

Now the most important parts; taste and drinkability. It’s bitter and malty. But a different bitterness and maltiness to other bitter and malty beers that I’ve reviewed recently. It’s not gassy in case that’s something that bothers you. What this brings is a stronger, more lingering aftertaste. And a tiny hint of fruits.

This isn’t bad at all. The quality of the ingredients and the case that went into it are all in evidence. Probably because I’m not a big fan of ruby ale and the bitterness that goes with it, I couldn’t call it outstanding. If however, you love your ruby, I can heartily recommend it. For me though, I’ll have to learn to love ruby ale with a few more examples.

Rating: 3.7

Have you tried Orkney Red MacGregor? What did you think?
Can you recommend any other Ruby Ales?
What sort of people drink Ruby Ale? Are you one? If so, what sort of person are you?
Comments in the usual place please…

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4 Responses to “Beer Review: Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Hi ~ Just stumbled upon your blog. Cool beer reviews. Being a beer lover myself, I try new ones all the time, although my reviews are nowhere near as detailed as yours. I haven’t tried Orkney Red MacGregor, but I’ve tried Orkney’s Skullsplitter. It’s a great beer. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. Happy drinking!

  2. vats of beer Says:

    [...] range of unique indigenous …http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/apr/06/peru.travelfoodanddrinkBeer Review: Orkney Brewery Red MacGregorsatisfying Scottish strong ale, I??m now on to another Scottish ale from my local Tesco. This one is [...]

  3. Andrew Brown Says:

    I first tasted Red MacGregor at a beer festival at a pub in England about 5 years ago. Out of the 20 kegs of different beers available, this one ran out first, and with good reason. It’s delicious! I live in Melbourne Australia, and recently had the good fortune to find a bottle shop that sold it. $10 Australian, but worth it.

  4. Craig Thomson Says:

    I recently tried Red MacGregor and enjoyed it thoroughly, if maybe a bit too in your face taste wise. I have also recently tried The Battle of Sherriffmuir 1715 Ruby IPA. I found this to be a fantastically snooth beer and would recommend it to anyone. Selling for 99p for a 330ml bottle in Aldi it also provides particularly good value for money.

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