Plaid Dragon, by my 2011 Canadian Brewery of the Year, Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing, is the latest in their single hop series of strong IPAs and a beer brewed specifically to celebrate Robbie Burns Day. Thing is, it’s neither single hopped nor is it in any way recognizably Scottish in style.
What it is, however, is tasty. Hopped with Cascade, Simcoe, Columbus and an experimental hop called HBC 342, and as such it has some significant hop complexity and bitterness, not necessarily a characteristic one tends to associate with Scottish ales not called BrewDog something-or-other. Fortunately, it manages to contain all this hoppiness fairly well, until the finish, at least.
Golden-hued and 7.5% alcohol, the nose of Plaid Dragon is a lovely perfumed mix of dried apricot, tobacco leaf, florals and a hint of vanilla. The body starts with a hint of sweet Vidalia onion before quickly transforming to a peachy nectar of sorts, which in turn yields to a progressively bittering character that builds a spicy, citrusy flavour alongside the waning sweet fruitiness. As in other Dragon series ales I’ve sampled, I find the finish to be somewhat sharp in its hoppiness, indeed a bit jarring, but that passes fairly quickly and leaves me ready for another sip.
Overall, I doubt this beer is something Burns himself would sup were he able, indeed it’s probably something he wouldn’t even recognize as ale, but it’s a pleasant enough tipple and a fine choice for a bottle or two this Burns Day.