Scotch ales (by which I mean nothing more than beers designated as such by their brewers) are rare in Ireland. I guess the standard Irish red already covers a lot of what Scotch ale is meant to do. It just so happens that two Irish breweries have recently launched beers they're calling Scotch ales so I think a bit of side-by-side is in order. Though since both are confined to their breweries' tied houses it'll have to be a virtual one.
JW Sweetman Scotch Ale is the younger of the two having been out only a few weeks and receiving its official launch last Thursday. It's 5.6% ABV -- strong enough for the brewery to describe it as a "wee heavy" -- and appropriately dark red. It's very sweet: laying on the toffee in a big way, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Probing my palate for a second sentence to write about the flavour, I found maybe a hint of ripe strawberry and a lightly acidic finish, but that's your lot. I thought it was going to be a hard one to finish but a second freebie pint at the launch event disappeared much faster than the first, so maybe it's the sort of beer one can settle into.
Neither of these has turned me into an avowed Scotch ale fanatic, but a bit of variety is always nice.
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