Posts Tagged ‘ruby ale’

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: Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor

2 March, 2008

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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