McEwan’s was originally founded in 1858 in Edinburgh, Scotland by William McEwan. It was originally called the Fountain Brewery and prospered until the Great Depression, at one point being considered the largest “single-ownership” brewery in the UK. However, the Great Depression and the second World War helped contribute to the brewery’s decline. In 2004, production was moved to Caledonian Brewery. By 2011, Wells & Young’s Brewing, the UK’s largest independent Family owned brewery, purchased the McEwan’s portfolio.
Wells & Young’s seems to be doing a good job buying up old brands that have fallen on hard times and then reviving these heritage brands so the current generation can experience these historic beers. You can read my review of one such brand here: Courage Imperial Russian Stout. McEwan’s Scotch Ale is another brand following in this trend.
Scotch Ales, for those who aren’t as familiar with Scottish styles, is a rich, malty ale over 6.5% ABV that often features kettle caramelization. McEwan’s is a classic example of a Scotch Ale.
Appearance: Deep ruby/brown, tan head with good retention.
Aroma: Toffee, dates, figs, prunes, woodsy hop notes.
Taste: Toffee, chocolate, clove, cinnamon, woodsy finish. Light booziness in the finish.
Overall Impression: McEwan’s Scotch Ale is rich and malty with a big palate of dried fruit and great toffee notes. Despite all the rich malts, the beer has a nice medium-dry finish. This is another great classic from the British Isles that has recently been reintroduced to US beer lovers.
Availability: Limited but probably expanding as their importer, Belukus Marketing, increases its distribution.
Notes: Best before 18/02/2014. To see Belukus’s page about McEwan’s (McEwan’s page focuses mostly on their British market beers), go here.