Posts Tagged ‘broughton’

Beer Review: Broughton Border Gold

29 March, 2008

TESCO keep surprising, with yet more Scottish ales surfacing. And, best of all. One of them is a Broughton. If you haven’t read them already, then make your way over to my reviews of three other Broughton, and you’ll see why I’m so excited. Old Jock Ale, Black Douglas and Champion Double Ale are some of the most consistently outstanding that I’ve reviewed. Each one scoring in the 4-4.5 range. And all from the Scottish Borders Broughton Ales. This one is called Border Gold and I can hardly wait to crack open the bottle and get to the fun part.
Broughton Border Gold bottle

Much the same formula for the bottle and label has been stuck to here as with the three others, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Especially as you really must read my reviews of the other Broughton bottles. The same style of front label features a roundel, sided by illustrations of hops and the Scottish Saltaire. Inside the roundel appears to be a portrait of a female monarch. Mary Queen of Scots perhaps? As usual, it will probably be explained on the story on the other side of the bottle.
Broughton Border Gold front label

Also on the front is something that should catch your eye. An A.B.V of 6.0%. That should make that that this drink is at least strong enough. And it’s something I like about Scottish beers and ales. No compromise on the alcohol front.

Turning the bottle around and the story is where you’d expect it to be.
Broughton Border Gold story side of label

The story behind the front illustration is as tenuous as it was for their other bottles. This one revolves around legend that gold from the streams of the Yarrow Valley, somewhere near the Broughton brewery, was used to make a wedding ring. And that that wedding ring was for Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scots. A ha! My historical hunch was right. It is still an undeniably round-about way of printing her portrait on the label of a gold ale.

The second paragraph goes into some detail about the drink itself. According to the label, we can expect a golden colour. A clean and full malt flavour. And a crisp, hop after taste. As usual, it’ll be interesting to see how close that gets to reality.

Over on the other side are the small-print details and barcode. Sadly, it confirms that we’re back to a 500 millilitre bottle. No full pint of drink here unlike some beers. In a small box on this side, it also describes itself as “Organic Ale”. That’s something I’m starting to see on an increasing number of bottles from small breweries. Is that actually appealing to anyone out there?
Broughton Border Gold barcode side of label

The 6.0% volume gives this bottle 3 of your UK alcohol units. And it contains water, malted barley, hops and yeast. That’s it from the outside. Finally, time to try Border Gold.

As you can see, I head a little trouble with the head. Maybe I poured it too quickly. Or the bottle had been shaken. Or it was intended to froth up like that. But a few short minutes after this photo was taken it died down, so it wasn’t a problem.
Broughton Border Gold in a glass

The colour is dark gold. Roughly what was promised. The smell is as complex as I had hoped for. In there are hints of the malt, the barley and the hops. It’s a good mix. And not too overpowering either.

The taste is sharper than I was hoping for. Much more bitter than I was expecting. And it’s not as malty as promised on the label. What does appear as advertised is the ‘hop flower’ aftertaste. Which I found to be rather too sour for my taste.

I’m not sure what to make of Border Gold. I don’t much care for the taste. But those who like bitter probably would do. The quality is again in evidence. Even though I don’t much like the taste, it still manages to be very drinkable. This poses a challenge for the rating.

I’m going to rate this lower than any other Broughton because I couldn’t get over the taste. But it’s still a high-quality, easy to drink ale. This is one for fans of bitter flavours, I think.

Rating: 3.7

Have you tried Border Gold? What did you think?
Comments, ideas, suggestions and insults below please.

Beer Review: Broughton Champion Double Ale

14 March, 2008

WHAT do we have here? It turns out that Tesco was holding back on one of their batch of Scottish ales. Because here, we have another Broughton beer from the Borders. And this one promises to be something special.
Broughton Champion Double Ale bottle

If you haven’t read my reviews of Broughton Old Jock or Black Douglas, then you should do it now. They were both good, and the bottles and labels looked the same at this one. That saves me time on the description here so we can get to the contents faster.

The front label sticks to the ultra-Scottish theme of before. The roundel is surrounded by illustrations of hops and the Saltaire. Unlike Old Jock or Black Douglas however, the centre illustration isn’t as stereotypically Scottish. The medieval knights could be from anywhere. I expect my Scots to be red-haired and wearing tartan.
Broughton Champion Double Ale front label

But look closely enough and you’ll see what makes this one different to the others. Tucked away at the bottom of the front label, it says “Tesco Drinks Awards Best Beer”. That and the 5.5% ABV give the impression that this should be a cut above the rest.

Presumably, the fact that there are two knights, and that this brew is called Double Ale have a connection. Let’s see what the rest of the label says…
Broughton Champion Double Ale back left label

Around left-hand-side of the big label that is wrapped around the bottle, we get the explanation. And it’s a long-one, so allow me to attempt a summary. The two knights on the front label are supposed to be Sir Alexander Ramsey of Dalhousie and Sir William Douglas, Knight of Liddesdale. They were very good at what they did, and were popular with King David of Scotland in the 14th Century.

This legend, Boughton have twisted to explain this, their blend of two beers. Hence the name Champion Double Ale. What they have done is blend a traditional strong Scottish ale with a Porter style ale. Apparently, they brew and ferment them separately, before blending and maturing the result.

They go on the promise drinkability with complex tastes and aromas. I’ll take a guess that the result will be malty, hoppy and unusual. Place your bets now on how close that guess is, because it’s time to open the bottle. Especially as there’s nothing much to note on the other side of the label. Apart from the 2.5 units of alcohol. If that’s something you like to notice.
Broughton Champion Double Ale in a glass

Once in the glass, the head is just where you want it to be. And the colour is about what you’d expect. Not that I really knew what to expect.

The smell is what you’d expect. Mostly of malt and hops. It’s exactly how you’d expect a big old ale to smell. Although maybe not as remarkable as I’d been hoping.

As you’d expect from a split-personality blended ale, the flavour is complex. It’s a big malty. It’s a bit malty. It has a bitterness and sourness to the taste and aftertaste. It has all these things. Yet none dominate the others. And that’s unusual. Because most that I’ve tried have one that towers over the others.

It might not sound it, but Champion Double Ale tastes quite good. Nothing in there is too strong to offend all but the most timid palates. It’s not too gassy. And there’s enough body to fill out its 500 millilitre bottle nicely. Add to that, the easy to drink quality that Broughton do so well, and we’ve got a beer here that is undoubtedly above average. But is it deserving of Champion, Best Beer status?

There is a lot to like about Champion Double Ale. But would I give it a Best Beer award? I’m not sure. There are a lot of special British beers out there. I’m going to say that Champion Double Ale is very very good, but the sour aftertaste puts me off. So I’m going to say that this is excellent, but some people out there will want to look for something easier to drink. I’d give this a very close Runner Up award. But don’t be disappointed Broughton, this is an outstanding ale.

Rating: 4.4

Have you tried Champion Double Ale?
Or any other Broughton ales?
Got any recommendations? Or ideas of your own for what I should talk about next?
Comments in the usual place, people…

Beer Review: Broughton Black Douglas

8 March, 2008

THE last beer from this Scottish batch is Broughton Black Douglas. After enjoying Broughton Old Jock so much, I’m looking forward to this. As Broughton have stuck to many of the same conventions for this bottle, as they did with Old Jock, now would be a good time for you to read that review for more detail.
Broughton Black Douglas bottle

As is plainly visible, Broughton have stuck to the formula of having a more Scottish than thou label. Besides the illustrations of hops, are two Soltaires. And in the roundel itself, is Black Douglas himself. Someone who is most certainly not black. Presumably the rest of the label will shed some light on this. Maybe it was a nickname?
Broughton Black Douglas front label

Also on the front is the ABV, which for this beer, is 5.2%. Quite reasonable for such an typically priced 500 millilitre bottle from Tesco.

Like before, they’ve used one big label wrapped around the bottle. And it’s the segment to the left of the logo that has the story.
Broughton Black Douglas back left label

In a concise little statement, we learn that this is a “dark ruby traditional ale with soft full crystal malt flavour”. I’ve had mixed results with ruby ales recently, but this one comes from Broughton, so I reckon it’s worth having an open-mind. The label goes on to explain that it is named after Sir James Douglas. A knight and trusted friend of Robert the Bruce. As well as inspiring the character behind the beer, Broughton have also taken him up as a mascot because of his links to the Scottish border country.

On the other side of the big wrap-around label, we have the details.
Broughton Black Douglas back right label

Among the details are the number of units. Which for Black Douglas are 2.5. And the ingredients which are water, malted barley, hops and yeast. All very typical. But how good is it?

Poured into a glass, the first thing that hits you is the head. The head of this beer will give you a Glasgow kiss as it leaps out of the glass and attacks you. Alternatively, what my photo shows, is not how to pour it. Look at how misshapen the head is. Don’t worry, it died down enough to drink after a few minutes.
Broughton Black Douglas poured into a glass

To smell, Black Douglas is one of the maltiest I’ve smelt yet. Almost as much as dark ale/stout. But not the same way as Leffe Blond(e) Beer. This smells rich and malty, but also as if it has plenty of other things tucked in there.

Now the most important part… the taste. First impressions are that it’s as close as you can get to a dark ale or stout, without actually being one. And that is a good thing, as I’m not too taken by stouts or dark ales. A couple of gulps on, and the ruby ale elements begin to show. That soft bitterness and maltiness are the flavours that you notice most. What I liked was that it wasn’t too bitter. Or too sour. Or too full-on in any way. Black Douglas named after a medieval knight, isn’t as rough as you’d expect. It’s quite the opposite. This is a gentle, soft and easy to drink ruby ale.

Black Douglas is a surprise. I didn’t expect it to be the way that it is. But that’s ok, since the way that it is, is very high-quality. It could easily have been too strong and unpleasant. But it isn’t. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the flavours and style it has, it carries them off with class and drinkability.

Rating: 4.25

That makes two out of two for me, when it comes to Broughton. Looking forward to trying some more of theirs some day.

Have you tried Black Douglas? Or any other Broughton beers and ales? Then leave a comment on your thoughts, insults and ramblings in the usual place.

Beer Review: Broughton Old Jock Ale

2 March, 2008

BROUGHTON Old Jock Ale is another more Scottish than thou bottle ale.
Broughton Old Jock Ale bottle

The abundant Scottish-ness of the ale is made perfectly clear by the front label.
Broughton Old Jock Ale front label

The simple, yet effective design features two Scottish Saltaire’s. Each, either side of an illustration of the Jock in question. Quite possibly, the most Scottish looking man you have ever seen, in full Highland military regalia and mountains in the background. Printed directly below the name and illustration is something else that catches the eye… “ABV 6.7%”. That makes this a strong ale. And my past experience with strong Scottish ales was good.

Opting for the one long label wrapped around the bottle, the left-hand-side gives us the story. That Jocks were the fighting men of Scotland and that they drunk strong ales. Presumably, like this one. Furthermore, that this is a “classic Scottish Strong Ale” and that it’s “dark and strongly flavoured” nature needs to be at room temperature. Unusual as most ales like to be cooled. I usually take them from the fridge. But not this one. As per the request of the label, I tested it at room temperature.

In case you like to pick your drinks according to your meal, this one says that it goes well with cheese and meat dishes. I don’t have either to hand, so we’ll have to take the brewery advice on that one.

Tucked away on the opposite side of the label are the units. 3 in the case of this bottle. Unusual not to see that in the usual ‘units’ logo. The ingredients, if you give a hoot, are water, malted barley, hops and yeast. It’s not often you see yeast listed as an ingredient. Obviously it’s got to be in there, but most ales and beers seem to leave that out of their lists.

The bottle is 500 millilitres and much darker than many others. There are also hops embossed around the shoulder of the bottle. I don’t know why they bothered since the dark shade of glass makes them almost invisible. The bottle top is plain red too. Most brewers would have done something with the bottle top, but not Broughton yet. Now let’s see how Old Jock from the Borders does outside the bottle…

Poured into a glass, Old Jock has a thick, frothy head. But that settled down within moments to a thinner and inconsistent covering. The colour was a bit of a surprise. Not opaque and some reddish hues. I hope this won’t be another disappointing Ruby Beer.

On the nose, this has a rich, malted barley smell. No fruit, flower or caramel nonsense here. No bubbles either which won’t make it too gassy. And the no nonsense approach is carried over to the taste. This is a straightforward, quality strong ale. And it tastes of malted barley. The taste and aftertaste are somewhat bitter and sour, but honestly, it is not something to worry about.

As I worked my way through the contents, I began to figure out what Old Jock was all about. Unlike the many other ales that I’ve been reviewing recently, it doesn’t try to deliver a multi-coloured spectrum of tastes and flavours. Instead, it aims to provide something simple, and something exceptionally well. And something that I appreciate, something that is very strong.

One point of contention is where, on the label, they say that Old Jock is to be “savoured like a fine wine”. That is completely true of those ales that do deliver a cavalcade of taste complexity. For a strong ale like Old Jock that doesn’t, that statement seems unnecessary. It is hard to imagine the old Jock’s of legend, coming home after a hard day spent fighting neighbouring clans and savouring their strong ale like a fine wine. The strong ale of yesteryear was the super-strength lager of today.

As I worked towards the end of the bottle, there was no doubt that Old Jock was strong. My alcohol addled brain also found it quite drinkable. At least for a bottle’s worth. I’d be reluctant to have another bottle or pint right after this one because the smell and flavour are that strong. But if you want a single, quality bottle of Scottish strong ale, you will probably enjoy Broughton Old Jock Ale.

Rating: 4.25

Have you tried Old Jock? What did you think?
Have you tried any other Broughton beers? What were they like?
Any other comments in the usual place please…


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