If you’re the type that tends to judge a book by its cover, then seeing the word “big” scrawled not once, but twice, in not so little letters across the face of a big bottle is probably going to have you thinking big. At least that’s the impression I get when taking in the text and graphics found on the label of a bottle of Big Sound Scotch Ale from Cigar City Brewing of Tampa, Fla.

Cigar City Big Sounds Scotch Ale (2014) bottle

You see Big Sound is said to be a “A big malty Scotch ale,” and it just so happens to come in a big bottle, which contains 750ml of liquid to be exact. As for the sound reference, that has to do with dedicating the beer to a punk rock piper named Gino and a bagpiper pack known as the Tampa Bay Pipes and Drums. The rest, I think, should probably speak for itself.

Big Sound has been around since at least early 2009, with variations having been released in later years after being aged in rum and bourbon barrels. By the look of this bottle and the timeline of label updates, this beer appears be either a late 2013 or early 2014 vintage of the standard recipe.

As for whether it lives up to its big billing, let’s just say the tagline doesn’t lie. Big Sound is indeed a big, malty Scotch ale, rich in aromas of molasses, brown sugar and raisins. The beer has some earthy undertones as well, not to mention a doughy element that becomes a bit more bready as it warms.

Cigar City Big Sounds Scotch Ale (2014)

There’s some sweetness to the beer, but it’s not overbearing at all and is balanced nicely by a mild bitterness on the back end. Big Sound leans towards being full-bodied, but it still maintains surprising drinkability. I’d normally try and attribute that in some way to the carbonation levels, but in this beer the bubbles stay pretty much out of the way. That just leaves you to bask in a blanket of malty goodness, which is appropriately backed by a wave of satisfying warmth courtesy of the 9-percent ABV.

Cigar City Big Sound Scotch Ale (2014)
BREWERY: Cigar City Brewing
LOCATION: Tampa, Fla.
STYLE: Scotch ale
ABV: 9 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: n/a
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
Simply put, Big Sound is a beer that delivers on the promise of being a big, malty Scotch ale. In some ways it makes you wonder what this beer must be like fresh, but at least as far as a one-year old vintage goes, this is probably as good as a Scotch ale gets.
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