Caledonian 80/- (shown just as “80” on the label) is probably now the definitive remaining example of the rich, malty Scottish 80/- style. It’s a deep mahogany colour with a moderate but lasting white head. Malt of course dominates the flavour, but it’s fairly dry and there’s a subdued spicy hoppiness in there too. It has a full mouthfeel and a soft, restrained carbonation. The distinctive Caledonian house character, with a creamy texture and notes of caramel and vanilla, is very much in evidence. Perhaps more than any other established brewery, all of Caledonian’s beers have an instantly recognisable common character which I believe derives from caramelisation of sugar in the brewery’s unique open-fired coppers.
In summary, an excellent, well-made classic beer which effectively defines its style and makes an ideal antidote to the modern wave of pale “tropical fruit” hoppy ales.