Archive for March 14th, 2008

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…

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