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The Weekly Beer Geek

Weekly Beer Review: Great Divide’s Claymore

Claymore- Scotch Ale
Great Divide Brewing Co.
$2.49/Bottle (12 oz)
Grade: B-

The Beginning:
June is already ending and it seems like summer passes faster every year. The only thing to do is make the best out of it and at least acknowledge the good things that come with fall- apple cider, football, and (for nerds) the Renaissance Festival. Tons of geeks dressing in quasi-medieval garb, carrying swords the size of lampposts, and… you know what? I can’t even pretend it’s the end of summer yet, but I like Scotch ales so I bought one.

The Brewer’s Pitch:
Yes indeed, Claymore is named after the claymore sword- not the antipersonnel device known as the Claymore Mine. This beer is Great Divide’s take on the “Wee Heavy,” Scotland’s legendary class of beers. Wee Heavies are lightly smoky like the peat smoke that perfumes Scotch whisky. Claymore is deep and rich with ruby highlights mirroring the gentle highlight of warmth it brings in a malt-forward, sweet caramel beer with gentle and non-aggressive hops.

The Beer:
Claymore pours velvet-smooth and carries deep ruby-red glints and a creamy dull tan head. The nose is dull and earthy shot through with acrid smoke notes and a vague haze of fruit-ester sweetness. The front end is sweet and sticky with toffee and caramel notes and a vague plum-jam backdrop. The body quickly thins out along the back and lets some smokiness come out to play, adding an acrid hint that subtly floods the palate and leaves behind a mild burn. The aftertaste is light smoke and very faint hops along with a warm mouth-feel that is part alcohol and part warming grains.

The Breakdown:
This beer improved as it warmed, bumping itself from a C to a B-. When cooler, it was thin and nearly watery at the back end which didn’t hold up well to the smoky tang in a way similar to how the worst IPAs are too thin to support their hoppy bitterness. As it warmed, though, the sweetness slowly developed and the body seemed to swell and fill the taste. It could have benefited from the smoky flavor hitting up front so the sweeter grain notes could soothe the palate afterward, but it’s an overall decent example of the style and certainly enjoyable.

The Bottom Line:
As a wise man once told me, “A claymore doesn’t need an edge. Even dull, a 200 pound man swingin’ an 8 pound sword will pop your head clean off.”

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