Last beer of 2013, Traquair Jacobite Ale
Sometimes you will crack open a bottle of beer and with that first sip you know that you have something special. That’s the case when you open a bottle of Traquair Jacobite Ale. This curious dark ale with coriander and fermented in oak barrels is outstanding. It doesn’t fit neatly into any given style and stands quite on it’s own. That an impressive feat for any beer.
This ale was first brewed in 1995 and is a sort of memorial to the failed Jacobite Uprising of 1745. The uprising was an attempt to return the House of Stuart to the British throne. The rebellion brought “the Young Pretender” Charles Edward Stuart to Scotland with the bold plan to march south to England and reclaim his grandfather’s crown. I would love to spend more time researching this aspect but I supposed this is a beer blog and I should return to the beer. Before getting back to the beer here’s a painting by David Morier of the Battle of Culloden.
Now back to the beer. A very attractive looking ale with a deep brown color and thin mocha head. It's interesting to smell coriander mixed with rich dark malts--a combination you don’t see often. The coriander isn’t as bright as it is in something like a wit bee--instead it adds a muted spice quality. The aroma also has hints of light plum and raisin. There is a touch of floral hop flavors and the bitterness is fairly restrained creating a malt focused beer that is complemented by the lingering coriander. The oak is light giving just a touch of depth. For American drinkers who have become used to bold wood flavors in their beers this might be too muted. For me? Just right. This is a very smooth and flavorful ale that is sure to warm your spirit--even after losing a major rebellion, dressing up a an Irish maid named “Betty Burke,” escaping Scotland on a small boat, and being forced to live the rest of your life in exile.
This would be a great beer to collect and store in your cellar over the years. They suggest aging for up to 5 years. I think you could push that mark with good storage. Then one year bring out a batch of them each from different years and watch how they have evolved and changed. I am not much of a beer collector (I prefer drinking them rather than storing them), yet an ale like this make me want to become one.
Of the beers that I’ve blogged about thus far in this little blogging bender for Christmastide, Jacobite Ale is by far the best. Now the question is, will any beer beat it. As a side note, traveling and what not has delayed these daily posts. I’ll be staying with it on this home stretch though.