Renaissance: Stonecutter Scotch Ale (New Zealand: Scotch Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: A dark cherry red. Dusting of brown bubbles.

Nose: Malt, toffee and shortbread. Liquorice. Mix of black and red cherry. Slight lime jelly. Slight smoked meat as it warms.

Body: Black cherry, slight tart. Smoked malt. Dried meat platter. Very malty. Light toffee.

Finish: Smoked meat and dry feel. Smoked bacon maybe? Dry malt. Smoke in itself. Slight fruit sweetness. Quite bitter but not hoppy.

Conclusion: I hate this beer. Nay just kidding. My sister recommended this so she is probably reading the review and I wanted to give her a shock. I am so getting punched for that one and I deserve it.

It’s actually remarkably nice. Why am I surprised? (and no it’s not because my sister recommended it, good taste in beer seems to run in the family, mostly) Well scotch ale is   a hard style to do right and very easy to make too sickly sweet or liquorice dominated, which gets old fast.

How does this beer avoid it? Well smokiness mainly. The beer has all that black cherry, malt, toffee and liquorice you would expect but there is this lovely dry smokiness backing it up. Sometimes the smoke is there to such a degree that it brings the image of smoked meat to mind, and that is just marvellous.

This is a great idea, and keeps the beer grounded and dry, preventing any possibility of the sickly sweetness overtaking it.

Flaws? Well that body doesn’t hold the same range as the aroma. A pity as the beer shifts as it warms, running the gamut of sweet toffee, shortbread, smoke and cherries. If the main body could keep up with that then it would be exceptional.

Still that is a minor thing, and the body isn’t exactly lacking. It looks like the scotch ale style I used to look down on is getting a new lease of life these days. Between this, AB07 and Robert The Bruce I’m really starting to enjoy them. It is still hard style to do right and for that I give Renaissance a lot of credit.

A lovely smoky, dry yet sweet scotch ale.

Background: Recommended by my sister who is a fellow fan of quality beers. So I decided to give it a try when it turned up in Brewdog‘s Guest beer selection. I often have reservations about the scotch ale style, but a few high quality recent examples have led me to re-examine the style.