Recently, I have tried to make an attempt to try English/Scottish beers that I continuously notice at Craft Beer Cellar, but have yet to sample. Due to the generosity of a friend, I was able to try Dr. Fritz Briem Gurt Bier and its wonderful carbonation and medicinal qualities were excellent. Gruit was an herbal concoction brewed in English and Scottish cultures before the introduction and utilization of hops. With this tasting still fresh in my mind, I decided to try a different style of Gruit: Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company, a beer that I had passed up multiple times, but I decided to indulge.
This ancient style of beer pours a very unexpected deep-copper orange. When held up to the light, there is very little light penetration due to its significant haziness. The head is very thick and creamy leaving a thin film of carbonation across the entire diameter of the glass.
The aroma is full of wonderful caramel and butterscotch notes very indicative of its Scottish roots. There was a strong presence of malt sweetness and "hot" component that was welcomed and somewhat soothing. When I purchased this ale, I imagined the smells of pine and spruces trees from a temperate boreal forest to waft from the glass, but there is very little in the way of a pine or spruce that is detectable in the nose.
The taste profile of this pint was very interesting. The caramel and butterscotch that dominates the aroma is very apparent in the front of the taste as well. At the back of the taste the pine peaks through with a hint of herbal grassiness. As the beer warmed, this herbal grassiness became more prominent, but never overpowered the sweet malt presence.
The mouthfeel is very creamy and had little carbonation. Since I conceptualized this stye of beer as an ancient IPA, I expected there would be more carbonation, however the low level of carbonation works very well with its creamy texture.
At 7.5%ABV, The Scots Pine Ale contained much more alcohol than I anticipated, but the viscous mouthfeel hid the ABV very well. With pine in the name, I had conjured up imagine of brewmaster, Bruce Williams, placing multiple boughs or numerous needle of Pine and Spruce trees into the boil, but these notes were not as present as I had hoped. All-in-all, this modern interpretation of an ancient style of ale was very enjoyable and I look forward to trying other ancient styled ales especially the Fraoch Heather Ale, Ebulum, and March of the Penguins.