Beer Review: McEwan’s Champion Ale

For this beer review, I thought it time to try one the ales that is always readily available at Tesco: the proudly Scottish McEwan’s Champion Ale. Being one of those bottles that you have probably seen on the shelves, here is a photo of it to jog your memory…
Bottle of McEwan’s Champion Ale

Peering a little closer reveals some rather unusual characteristics. The first being the astonishing 7.3% volume. Compared to even strong ales out there, this quietly promises to be something else. And then there’s the references to it being award winning. Of what award exactly, we are never told. What we do know, is that McEwan’s are fairly confident about how much you’ll like it. You wouldn’t call it “the ultimate Scottish Ale” without at least some certainty on the issue.

McEwan's Champion Ale front labelMcEwan's Champion Ale back label

Poured into a glass, this brew continued to surprise. With a hue darker than any ale I’ve yet seen, and a thick white head, this looks more like stout. Unexpectedly, there’s not much to smell. You can pick up on the barley and wheat, but not much else

McEwan's Champion Ale poured into a glass

About the flavour, the label boasts of its “intense”, “rich” “strong” flavour. “Sweet” and “fruity” also get a mention. Where it takes a risk, is in promising to be simultaneously “smooth” and “surprisingly easy to drink”. Have McEwan’s pulled off this feat? Or is it just beer label boasting?

I’m delighted to tell you that McEwan’s Champion Ale deserves its award. It also deserves a try from you. This is one of the best ales I’ve tried yet. The flavour is rich and strong. Yet somehow, it manages to also manage to be easy to drink. It also avoids the pitfall of many a delicious beer, by arriving in a suitably sized 500ml bottle. Together with it’s 7.3% volume, this is the perfect quantity.

On the debit side, I was hard pressed to detect any of the promised fruitiness. And the sweetness wasn’t quite enough to stop that familiar sour taste by the end of the glass.

Overall, this is truly outstanding and unlike any other ale out there (at least of the small number I’ve tried). Well worth a go.

Rating: 4.25

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18 Responses to “Beer Review: McEwan’s Champion Ale”

  1. Susan Says:

    Where can I buy in the US or order it online? I used to live in England where I could easily shop at Tesco for this yummy brew. But now that I am back in the US it is impossible to find my favorite ale. Please email me if you know where to find McEwan’s CHAMPION Ale in the US. Thank you

  2. arthur Says:

    Have to agree. A really smooth and sweet tasting ale that I would recommend to any serious connoisseur of real ales.

  3. Simon Says:

    This is by far my No1 Bottled beer consistant quality great flavour and no 7 malt lush

  4. Quillfiller Says:

    Must admit I’m surprised at the positive comments about this beer. On holiday near Perth in Scotland this week, the local Asda had this on offer at £1 a bottle, so it seemed worth a punt.

    I’m obviously not a connoisseur of real ales like the above contributor, as to me it tasted more like something you would clean scale off the lavatory with – though not having sunk so low to try toilet cleaner I can’t truly judge.

    The alcohol hit was very quick – so would highly recommend it if instant inebriation is high on your priority list. I wouldn’t exactly class myself as a soft southern poofter – I usually like strong ales – but this was difficult to finish; I reached for a handy chocolate bar to take the edge off the harsh taste.

    If youre hovering over you beer selection in the supermarket and see some of these, I’d suggest you try one first before you invest in a case.

  5. Philip Bradfield MA MSc Says:

    It is indeed a “fulfilling” ale

    Philip – D(F)unfermline

  6. Amit Mishra Says:

    Overly bitter..too hoppy..ruins and dominates other flavour which you can certainly whiff as you pour your drink..fruity is what I thought it will be before I took a sip…as for the colour and the rich head..must say the foam took quite a while to settle down..Of all the ales I have tasted I find this one taking me longer than ever..Who would drink this brew. I agree brews must be a little bitter..but then shouldn’t there be a balance. The other day I had a tokyo 18% from Brew dog..must say tasted more like wine but was easier to drink than this one.

  7. Dave Says:

    Not a great beer connoisseur or good at describing in depth what I’m drinking but I know if I like something. Champion easily comes into my top 10. Along with Blacks Sheep, Jenning’s Snecklifter & Cumberland Ale & Theakston’s Old Peculier. Even less of an expert on southern beers but St Austel Tribute & Adnam’s Broadside touch the spot, I like a beer I can savour, take my time drinking & not need another straight away as the taste lingers on the pallet.

  8. Tommo Says:

    Dave has hit the nail on the head! It’s in my top ten too but Dave left out Hobgoblin, Old Tom and Brakspear Triple

  9. Ian Says:

    OK! Still on offer at tesco’s but only just,and as their wonderful 4 for a fiver offer got me back into bottle conditioned real ales; I’m somewhat mortified it’s ending. Miffed is the word.So this was the last of the offers on the shelf and yes, I too, was somewhat smacked by the abv. Up there or thereaboots with Brakspears triple-a beer it actually doesn’t come close to in any dimension;taste,aroma,sight sound,shape or form. However if a hit is what you’re after, this delivers in spades and at 125 a bottle, do i really care about that hoppy odd almost chemical whiff and very bitterly afters-not really because after the first few slurps I’ve already transcended tittle tattle and am into what this beer is all aboot at the bottom of the glass-and do you really need me to tell you aboot that? When chapman billies leave the street/and drouthy neighbours, neighbours meet….Robbie Burns, Tam O’Shanter-a Man’s a man fer a’ that…N a beer’s a beer too…

  10. David Simpson Says:

    A great ale! When one is restricted to only one drink a day, the 7.4% hit is a real bonus. As an Australian travelling in the UK for the first time, I quickly developed a taste for the various ales on offer. It was so good to escape from pissy lagers like Fosters. McEwan’s came in the top three, for me, and I taste tested from Kent to Drumbeg. I only wish I could buy it in Australia! Ah well, Cooper’s Sparkling Ale will have to do!

  11. blackcampbell Says:

    Apparently, this used to be what they called McEwans Scotch Ale here in the states. Heineken doesn’t ship it to the US, the Dutch pricks.

  12. carl 'crusty' owen Says:

    best ale ever. strong but no yeasty aftertaste. so smooth going down. but best of all, as its a real ale, no bad head in the morning after 8 bottles!!!

  13. Ralph John Lane Says:

    McEwan’s Champion is, for me, not only the best bottled beer readily available through normal shops in the UK, but the best by a long way. Where available, I wouldn’t drink any other bottled beer.

  14. Cal Says:

    Apparently the award winning came from when champion was developed as a late contender for Tesco in an she competition. It was then sold to mcewans 😉

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