I first tried Great Divide Brewing Company’s delicious Claymore Scotch Ale at Mac McGee’s, one of the fine pubs here in Decatur (I’ve gone out on a limb and called the area that stretches from my beloved Marlay House and past Mac McGee’s, The Brick Store, Leon’s, and Twain’s the very best pub crawl district in all of America outside of Boston) and I adored it at once. I was happy to discover that my neighborhood Candler Park Market carries it, and it’s just as good in the bottle as it is on tap. For a “wee heavy,” it’s surprisingly refreshing and drinkable. It borders on sweet, but the malty graininess adds a nice balance. It is, in a word, delicious.
The pour is darker than I expected … a deep ruby/cherry brown, and it has a nice two-finger, creamy head that laces beautifully. But wait a second before you taste, okay? Savor it from a wide-mouthed glass, because the aroma is a big part of the pleasure. Start slowly. Breathe deep. The scent carries roasted caramel malt, chocolate, coffee, and a very subtle hint of fruit — cherries and raisins, maybe. Ready? Now take your first sip.
The feel is exceptional — smooth and creamy, and surprisingly complex. Bready, sure, in the best and most comforting sort of way. Sweet, but not even a little bit syrupy. The taste follows the scent: roasted, sweet malts with subtle hops, chocolate, grains, and light accents of, well, something fruity. Apple, raisin, or cherry, I think. Maybe notes of all three. The finish balances the sweetness nicely, with just a touch of the woody, peaty notes you’d find in a good Scotch. It’s complex, drinkable, and oh so smooth.
I was about to say this is one of the best Scotch ales I’ve had in ages, one that equals or maybe even surpasses my fading memories of McEwans Scotch Ale, which (alas!) is hard to find these days, at least here in the Atlanta area. But frankly, it’s one of the most delicious brews of any sort I’ve tried recently. It’ll be cementing a place on my favorites list, and it’ll be a mainstay in my kitchen. I can’t wait to try it in the fall and winter. In the meantime, it’s mighty tasty in the summer.