Some may remember the glorious fusion of DOMA coffee and Missoula-based Kettle House ale. The Olde Bongwater Hemp Porter was fantastic, and to make things as unbearable for us as possible, Kettle House did not distribute its products to Spokane.
It still doesn't, and thus we try to pick up a four-pack or two from them when in Montana. You should too, as they're easy to find (gas stations in Superior carry them for heaven's sake) and the beer is more often than not quite good.
Their Scotch ale certainly hits the spot, and it's a good hit at that. The color is dark copper, almost brown, with a good finger worth of head. Malts come through very nicely on the nose, and there's a vague sweetness to it, almost berry like.
Taste it, and it's obviously all about the malts. It's drinkable, in a session sort of way (despite weighing in at 6.5% ABV), and you'll be very happy here if you're into malty beers, though probably a bit miffed if IPAs are more your game. There are some hints of caramel toward the end, but they're barely noticeable.
So, this is a Scotch ale through and through. You'll be a fan of Cold Smoke if you're a fan of that specific style of beer. For the rest of us, it might be a bit thin, mouthfeel wise, and just a bit more hopiness would have improved the overall picture for me.
But heavens, this is a good beer. Not worth the trip to Montana by itself, but worth picking up if you have room for it in your car and in your heart.
Vote for Kettle House Cold Smoke Scotch Ale: It’s your civic duty!