Beer Review: Broughton Old Jock Ale

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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