Allagash has had considerable success with Curieux, their widely available, bourbon barrel-aged beer. But starting last year, the famous Maine brewery released it’s first Scotch barrel-aged beer called Pictavia for the former moniker of Scotland. I, for one, did not know Scots were once called Picts. Anyway, Pictavia is appropriately a Scotch ale aged in Scotch barrels (for somewhere between two to four months). There’s a big caveat here, however. Most Scotch barrels are ex-bourbon casks, but Allagash uses a Scotch barrel that actually first held port wine. Whisky, wine, and beer all in one! So how does that combination fare?
The beer pours a honey brown color with a light, cream soda head. The nose is not at all boozy, and there’s little evidence of the barrel up front. Instead of oak or alcohol, I get notes of sweet cereals, grape must, grilled pineapple, and yeast rolls with just a slight hint of smoke. The palate is on the lighter side for a Scotch ale, perhaps owing to the use of Belgian yeast. It actually comes across pretty malt-forward and more like an amber. There’s moderate caramel sweetness, some raw honey, vanilla bean, and lighter fruit notes of blackberry and prune. Those looking for stereotypical Scotch notes like peat won’t find much of that here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as those elements would probably overpower this style of Scotch ale. It’s enjoyable enough, but I can’t help feeling like there’s more the barrel could have contributed to this one.
9.8 % abv.
B+ / $20 per 4-pack / allagash.com