Old Chub Scotch Ale

Review Date 1/22/2005   Last Updated  10/29/2017    By John Staradumsky

Think about it. When’s the last time you ran down to the local liquor store for some good old fashioned microbrew, and came home with a six pack of….cans? It’s not unheard of, but exceedingly rare that you’ll find craft beer in cans. Why, everyone knows good microbrews only come in glass bottles, right?

Tell that to the guys at Colorado’s Oskar Blues brewing company. They’ve thrown caution to the wind by canning their famous pale ale and wonderfully tasty Scotch ale. They argue, and with some merit, that cans are better for beer than bottles.

They’re lightweight. They protect from light. They chill faster. And they’re more portable. All that’s true, but I must admit that I myself have always attached a sort of stigma to canned beer. I’m not sure why. After all, I like keg beer, and isn’t a keg just a big can? Ah, but kegs are lined, you say.

Still, I was curious about Old Chub and decided to give it a go. At first I thought it was a Scottish style ale, until I read the label: 8% alcohol, and tons of malt! OK, this is a Scotch ale (or Wee Heavy), not a Scottish. The former is thicker and sweeter than the latter. Think Douglas vs Belhaven.

Here’s what Oskar Blues says:

We’ve heard cans are made for boring, pusillanimous beer. We couldn’t agree less. Old Chub is a behemoth of a beer brewed in the tradition of the finest Scottish style ales. We brew it with huge quantities of caramel and chocolate malt, and a touch of smoked malt. Our liquid philanthropy is your 12-ounce snub to conformity.

I pour my…can…into an authentic thistle-shaped Scotch ale glass.

Old Chub pours to a slightly translucent mahogany color with a very thick creamy head and a sweet and sticky dark malt nose. The palate is full, sweet, and sticky. Right away, it hits you with a Heath-bar like blast of chocolate and burnt treacle.

There’s a hint of molasses, subtle coffee, chewy caramel, a little raisin, and some subtle smoky notes. The body is delightfully creamy and full of wonderful rich and complex flavor.

The beer finishes on the sweet side, with just a gentle hint of hops, but they struggle to be noticed at all. The alcohol is there in the finish, with a gentle warmth that slightly dries the sweetness. And the smoke re-emerges here too.

Don’t let the cans fool you. This is a very credible (and delicious) Scotch ale. And don’t forget to recycle.

Update: June 22, 2014: Oskar Blues Old Chub is now brewed a lot closer to home. With ON opening a second brewery in Brevard, North Carolina just a few years ago, I have easy access to their beers. And when Kroger had fresh six-packs of Old Chub marked down to $4.54 for the normal $8.99? A no brainer. It's delicious, rich and sweet malty, loaded with the same raisins and coffee, molasses and smoke. Unbelievably good beer, and still one of my favorite Scotch Ales. Don't miss.

Update 10/29/2017: Here's a first for me (I think): Oskar Blues Old Chub on tap, at Taco Mac of course. Just $6 for 23 ounces of this beautifully malty Scotch Ale with hints of raisin fruit, chocolate, treacle and a hint of smoke is a steal. So good I may have another!

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.