Beer Review 0224: Great Divide Claymore Scotch Ale

Great Divide Brewing Co. is the vision of Brian Dunn, who during the late 1980’s, spent five years outside of the United States building farms in developing countries. Dunn had a passion for beer, and upon returning home to Colorado, started home brewing and graduated from college.

Dunn thought that he could start a brewery in Denver, and with help from family, friends, and a loan from the city, Great Divide started producing beers in 1994. At first, Dunn was the only employee — but his beers were outstanding, winning medals at beer festivals and catching attention by word of mouth.

Things got big, and today Great Divide has 45 employees, and has won seventeen Great American Beer Festival medals. Now brewing 9 year-round beers and 12 seasonals, Great Divide proudly says they have “something for everyone.”

Claymore Scotch Ale is one of their year-round beers, brewed in the Scotch/Wee Heavy style that is heavy on malt and light on hops. This beer was named after a large medieval Scottish sword that required two hands to brandish. It comes in at 7.7% ABV (alcohol by volume), which is right in the range that most Wee Heavy beers are brewed to.

Pouring produced a small head that was fizzy in nature, creamy and quickly fading. I noticed the color of the beer to be darker than normal for a Wee Heavy; this one was a very dark brown that had purple highlights when held to the light one way, and turned ruby red when held to the light the opposite way. The drink was opaque but the body was clear of particles and sediment. Lacing was good.

The scent was unabashed all-malts, and it was nice. There was heavy caramel up front, bold and sweet, teamed with chocolate, and soft notes of coffee and toffee. This is a heavily roasted beer, almost hinting on smoke. The dark fruits are in there, too; along with sweet bread.

On the palate, Claymore Scotch presents lots and lots of caramel with a medium mouthfeel that is foamy. This is a pretty sweet beer, but it doesn’t cross that cloying line. There are other flavors of sweet bread, toffee, a touch of dark fruit (raisin), and a bit of smoke, but the caramel is clearly the marquee here. I noticed as I drank, the 7.7% ABV slowly warmed my upper body, which would make this a delightful cold weather brew.

Claymore Scotch is a nice beer that has good flavors, but lacks in overall complexity. I thought the mouthfeel was a little thin; for a beer this sweet, I was expecting maybe something a little creamier and thicker. I found this Great Divide bottle a good offering, but one was enough.

Great Divide Claymore Scotch Ale, 86 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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