Scotch ales are an interesting style and from what I've gathered, people usually either love them or dislike them completely. Pipers doesn't really get a lot of love when fresh. It's smokey, sharp, and kind of boozy right off the line. Again, not everyone's glass of beer. Some scotch ales age really well and it helps tone down the aggravated flavor profile, so after 4 years, it was time to see how Pipers held up.

Twist off caps aren't much for a long term seal, but this one did its job. Small amount of off white head that recedes to just a ring around the edge of the glass. The color is a dense mahogany with some brown to it. You can't see through it, but it stands pretty clear.

The aroma is dominated by dark fruits and a booze character like that of a brandy. Fig and raisin are most noticeable. There isn't much of the peat or smoke that was so abundant when it was fresh. It seems as though this beer has mellowed out a bit with it's 4 year slumber. Sweet malts and bunch of caramel become noticeable as the beer warms. Only after sitting for a good while, the peat-smoke aroma started to come forth.

The flavor has become far sweeter. Caramel, toffee, molasses and dark rye bread come to mind from the first taste. There is a presence of scotch whisky and wood in the taste that acts as the underlying medium. It's not overly subtle but not in your face either. A touch of spice and a earthy character bring a little bit of bite to the palate. It is slight, but it is there. There is a bit of a wet cardboard flavor present, but this isn't much of a surprise with how old this beer is and the style.

It seems that time has tamed this beast from being a smoke-heavy malt bomb to a layered, sweet forward beer that has a complexity that you can experience throughout the time it takes to warm up in your glass. 4 years may be a bit too long for this beer, and it might be best between 2-3 years old, but this experiment definitely gives a new option for enjoying this brew.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on May 2, 2014 .