Jun 7, 2012

Port City Tartan Ale

There are some folks out there that, when they find out there’s a brewery nearby, swear only by that company’s beer and refuse to drink anything else that’s not “local.” I’m not one of those people, and most likely never will be. While I (and my liver) certainly do my (our) part in supporting area craft brewers, I drink what I’m in the mood for, regardless of where it’s made.

That said, I do love me some Port City Monumental IPA (ooh, and their Porter). It’s been a fairly consistent regular in the beer fridge over the last year or so. And now that the Alexandria, VA brewery is branching out with more styles as they grow, I do look for the opportunity to try them out.

Tartan Ale is Port City’s 5.5% Scottish Ale. It’s brewed with a variety of malts — Halcyon Pale Ale Malt, Hugh Baird Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Matl, Caramalt, Roast Barley — and Fuggles hops. The end result of all those elements coming together is a tasty brew that has a well rounded, earthy character. But it probably won’t supplant the company’s IPA as my go-to beer from them.


Tartan Ale pours a chestnut brown in color with a light tan head that fell smoothly to patchy surface lace.


The brew has that typical Scottish ale nose with a solid and clean malt aroma that has hints of a light roast, caramel and toffee. It’s a rather subdued aroma, but it does hint at the beer’s earthy quality.


The sweet (but not too sweet) malt arrives first with notes of cereal, a light roast, subtle dark fruits, biscuit and light grain. The beer has an earthy presence about it that’s different than most Scottish ales I’ve enjoyed and isn’t quite as sweet as some. The brew has a medium body and slightly crisp carbonation that helps accentuate the light hop tingle that hangs around in the clean finish.


Tartan Ale isn’t an overwhelming beer in terms of its flavor profile, but the earthy character that it carries along with a light malt roast is more than enough for me to run out and pick up a few more bottles for my enjoyment. It’s an approachable beer that is easy to drink and serves as a nice seasonal escape from their main line of products. It’s also a reason to drink a good beer that just happens to be produced locally.


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