The label is adorned with a tiny Scottish thistle, a reminder of Mac MacTarnahan, one of the original investors in Portland Brewing Co., who was still regularly donning a kilt and competing in various senior games before his death in 2004 at the age of 89. But this beer from MacTarnahan’s Brewing Co. claims to be Belgian – that’s fine, the Belgians have happily taken inspiration from Scots brewers. Spine Tingler gushes into the glass, throwing a big, yellow-tinged head that dissipates quickly. The nose is full of fresh melons, banana, and Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup, with earthy undertones. There are peppery, clove and banana notes in the flavor, with grainy cracked wheat and a lot of prickly carbonation. Once that fades, the body seems oddly thin for a tripel. The finish is dry and bitter, with lemon rind and a touch of marmalade on burnt toast. It hides its strength well – isn’t that part of the punchline about what a Scotsman wears under his kilt?
Published March 2011, Volume 32, Number 1