Scottish-ale

2

Founders “Dirty Bastard”

94 A-


This Scotch Ale (aka ‘Wee Heavy’) is available year-round, and is my personal go-to brew. Aromas are delightfully malty like brown sugar glazed over toasted dark bread. A darker edge adds a touch of chocolate. Brighter notes come across like berries and dried fruits. Additional complexities mimic smoked earth and leather. Hops give a weak touch of herb and spice.


The flavor profile starts with a honey-flavored sweetness over bready malts. Meanwhile, a quick mix of bitter and elements converge for a flavor akin to orange. Fruity notes fill in the middle with suggestions of guava and strawberry. Roasted malts slowly begin to develop into a muted body of milk chocolate, followed by a hint of smoked peat. Hops gently rise on the back-end, stirring up modest herbal flavors paired with a modest bitterness of 50 IBU’s. Finishing flavors give an impression of cola, a drop of vanilla, and one final touch of spice. Mouthfeel delivers a smooth body over a well-rounded body with slightly abrasive carbonation. Alcohol leaves behind footprints of light warmth.


This is a malt-forward ale with simple delivery of a complex arrangement of flavor. Sweetness barely takes the lead, but remains in proper balance to the bitterness. I’ve found 8.5% is the fulcrum between light and heavy, the point at which the detrimental flavors of alcohol don’t impose (so long as malts or hops are there for support). Despite this above-average ABV, the alcohol really hasn’t much negative effect on the palate. This is actually one of the biggest factors which set the Scotch Ale apart from the Scottish Ale. I don’t see enough of this wonderful style, so I continue to happily return to this Dirty Bastard. I recommend it!


8.5%

50 IBU

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ballast Point’s Piper Down Scottish Ale (Picked up at Berkeley Bowl). A 3 of 4. Some nice caramel malt here, but not nearly as complex as many other Scottish-style ales. There’s some sweet nutty quality and a malt body you’d expect in a red ale, but not a lot of deeper, richer, boozier qualities. Still, this drinks quite easily and has some nice fruity and herbal hop qualities on top of the nice caramel malt.

2

Inheritance Ale

In 1962, Peter Maxwell Stewart became the twentieth Laird of Traquair. With the title came the family estate in Scotland. Traquair House was at the time quite run down, no longer bustling with servants and housekeepers. Stewart set himself to reviving the house and making it a tourist attraction. In 1965, while renovating the old carriage house he found three disused copper brewing vessels and set to work building a brewery around them.

Stewart never set out to form a revolution, but he opened the first new brewery in the United Kingdom in decades. Stewart’s first brews were sold in the teahouse at Traquair, but as Campaign for Real Ale and their ilk began to grow in the seventies he found himself a vanguard in a new beer movement.

Today, Traquair House Ale seems simple and formless. It’s a dark brown beer that straddles today’s style guidelines. The beer was brewed from old recipe scraps and some guesswork. It’s not quite a modern Scottish ale nor would I call it a porter. Traquair House Ale is nutty with notes of molasses cookies, but also a roasted character and a hint of chocolate. I understand the beer is fermented in oak barrels, but I couldn’t taste any classic wood flavor. Though it does have a nice soft feel for a beer of over seven percent alcohol. 

Traquair’s beer is fascinating, but less for its flavor than its history. I have to thank Boak & Bailey for that. Their book Brew Britannia focuses on the last fifty or so years of English beer – from the forming of the “Big Six” breweries to the Campaign for Real Ale and the later craft beer boom. If you don’t feel weird googling Britishisms every few pages, it is really good reading.

2

Odell “90 Shilling”

91 A-


90 Shilling is a Scottish ale available throughout the year. This is Odell’s flagship brew, which means its been around since their beginning in 1989, and has since become one of their best sellers. Aromas give malty suggestions of caramel drizzled sweet bread. Hops come across as weak hints of orange and peach tea.


The palate begins as mellow malts initiate a gentle roast with a sweetness like caramel and brown sugar. Next, malts shift into flavors of toasted bread with a husky twang. A sour flavor is embellished by unripe oranges. Earthy hops make the final statement with herbal, grassy flavors as a dull bitterness slides down to the underbelly. Mouthfeel remains smooth, easy-going, and nicely carbonated over with a moderate body that clings in short sustain. Drinkability is great.


It’s a well-balanced, simple, yet satisfactory brew. I really do wish it were more complex, but there’s always something to be said for simplicity. As is customary, sweet malts have the leading edge. Hops are supportive, bringing bitter/sour qualities to level off the initial sweetness. It gives a pretty toned down expression of the style, ensuring everything goes down smoothly. Drinking more than one or two would be easy. Due to its light body and malt-forward sweetness, this should certainly agree with the general palate. 90 Shilling is a great standard to have around, and always has a spot in my fridge. I recommend it!


5.3%

27 IBU

Fort Collins, Colorado

The Floyd Boyz don’t get out here to Colorado very often (though last year’s barrel of Zombie Dust went down just fine).  When a couple of brews do make it out this way, I am happy to give one a try.

Robert the Bruce - Three Floyds Brewing

This one pours out a reddish brown with a short light brown head that left spotty lacing.  It has notes of caramel, biscuit, toasted sesame seed, toffee, light brown sugar, and peat.  Had a clean smooth finish with medium mouth feel and mild carbonation with very little sweetness at the end.  I like Scotch Ales in general and this one is a very delicious representative of its class.  I am sorry that it doesn’t make it’s way out here through normal channels. On the other hand, given how many beers I say that about, maybe it is better that more don’t

Give this one a try, especially if you like this type of brew.

Scottish Ale | 6.50% ABV

2

Three Floyds “Robert the Bruce”

85 B


Robert the Bruce is a Scottish Ale. Aromas are malt-dominant with a sweet expression of butterscotch held over bready, nutty grains. Hops appear as a hint of earth. Additional details smell like peat with a whisper of smoke.


The palate follows the nose, beginning with a smooth body of caramel, then raw barley grains. Sweetness tastes like molasses, then fades as quickly as it came. Malts develop some roasty qualities that give way to flavors of toasted bread, chocolate, and flat cola. A light use of earthy hops accentuate the barley, then finish in a subtle mix of bitter and sour. Mouthfeel starts creamy, then thins out for a semi-dry departure.


Its overall taste probably falls somewhere along the lines of a Brown and Black Ale. The balance tilts toward the malty side, which creates a smooth feel, and subsequently easy to drink. Overall, I think it’s a generalized interpretation of the style without flair. Unlike my experience with the rest of the FFF lineup, this doesn’t leave me impressed. They should’ve gone bigger. It’s a decent brew, but I don’t really recommend it.


6.5%

24 IBU

Munster, Indiana

The first beer I’ve had all week. It seems like everyone in Portland has had to deal with this sore throat cold thing, and this week was my turn.

A very nice Scottish ale. Toffee and figs hit you first, then subtle fruit flavors before finishing with a nice Oaky dryness on the tongue.

3

Oskar Blues Old Chub

Style –Scottish Ale
ABV – 8%

Nothing says “Happy Mother’s Day” like an Old Chub. I managed to snag one of these beers from my brother, who is a big supporter of Six Pak Jak. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten a whole six pack of them, but I’ll review this one, because it’s such a special day.


The Drink.

My very first thought was, “it’s in a can?” That’s not to say it’s bad, but generally I prefer beers that come in bottles. Anyway, I poured and there was a wonderful dark earthy brown color with a very large head that lingered for a while.  The aroma is quite inviting to any who may be afraid to try darker beers; it’s sweet with hints of plum, coffee, vanilla, and a malty barrel.

The taste is even better than the smell. There is a lot going on, but if I had to describe the taste (which I do, I mean this is a beer blog) I would say it is smoky, coffee flavored, almost a bit metallic, and slightly plummy. It really straddles the line between bitter and sweet, but the aftertaste leads to sweet and smooth.

As the Old Chub lingers in your mouth, the sweet flavors become more pronounced. The aftertaste brings back the metallic ting that is evident in the initial flavor, but it isn’t too offensive. The 8% ABV isn’t noticeable at all, so be careful when sipping more than one Old Chubs.


The End Result.

I really like this beer. It’s quite a bit different than what I usually enjoy (wheat ales) but it is fantastic nonetheless. The blend of flavors and amazing smell has something for everybody. If you’re afraid to try darker beers, start with an Old  Chub.

  • Appearance – 4/6. The can is a bit of a downer for me, but the beer itself looks cool.
  • Aroma – 5/6. Smells very good, lots going on.
  • Taste, feel – 6/6. Absolutely delicious. Everything that is good in the smell is better in the taste.
  • Aftertaste – 4/6. The sweet is good, the metallic is a bit weird, not bad though.
  • Value - ?/6. Like I said, I got this from my brother, so it was free to me.
  • Overall – 4.8/6

Aroma, taste, and aftertaste are weighted heavier than appearance; value was excluded.

Review: Three Floyd’s Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale (Bottle)

By Niko I (FF)

After a long fall day of taking one exam, while studying non-stop for two more I am fortunate to have later this week, I needed a break. It was one in the morning, and I probably should have gone to sleep, but instead las night I opted for a game of FIFA and one of the Scottish ales I had in my far too full of beer fridge. The lucky brew? Three Floyds Robert the Bruce. 

Now I don’t have much time to write this so I’ll keep it short and sweet. It’s the third ale we’ve reviewed from Three Floyds, after their impressive Alpha King and Dreadnaught Imperial IPA (each scoring a 9 overall). 

The beer pours a dark amber red with frothy tan head. The aroma is sweet malt and honey, and leaps of the brim of the glass. Now I have to warn you that I may be a bit biased due to my love for Scottish ales, but the first sip of Robert the Bruce was heavenly. Malt sweetness explodes in a creamy, silky mouthful of honey, brown sugar, and caramelized biscuit (if that’s a thing). It’s incredibly smooth and simply delicious. You know a lot of people these days like to over-analyze beer to the point where it becomes more of a science than an art-form, handing out ratings based on the list of twenty-five flavors they’re pretending to taste, or ultra-quadruple shot espresso level IBUs, but at the end of the day, aren’t we supposed to tell you how good the damn thing tastes? At 6% ABV, Robert the Bruce isn’t going to kick you on your ass with any one flavor, or present enough coffee, chocolate, bourbon, or creme-fraiche to make you think your eating a beer with a cake thrown in. But what it does do is offer a well balanced and simply delicious brew. The only complaint I can make is that it loses some malt sweetness as it warms to dark fruit tartness and hop bitterness, each of which don’t mix perfectly with the other flavors. 

Niko I (FF) Score = 9.5/10

Ol’ Man Jenkins

Verdict:

World-Class: (96/100)

The tale I am about to tell is one that has eluded the pages of historians and exists only through word of mouth passed down from my ancestors, who allegedly were there when the events of this epic took place.

Story Time…

Legend has it that in the forests of Grand Rapids, there lived a man who long ago packed up what few belongings he possessed, slung his trusty axe over the shoulder and made his way into the wilderness to create the ‘perfect beer’. This gentleman’s name was Ol’ Man Jenkins, a monicker the townspeople gave him years ago. Around the community as well as beyond into neighboring provinces knew of him for his mastery of bourbon production. No taller than five feet-four inches with a beard that fell past his belt, he certainly was a sight to behold. Baggy, dirty and ripped clothing was the only thing in his wardrobe, with a ‘moonshiners hat’ always atop his head. His recipe had been perfected after years of dedication and only recently had he allowed for the distribution of his product. The townspeople fell in love with his concoction and demand immediately skyrocketed for the hermit’s home-made brand. Not happy with his new found fame and God-like status among the community, Jenkins soon withdrew back into his dwelling, where the flow of bourbon promptly ceased. Now, it should also be stated that not only was Ol’ Man Jenkin’s forte in the realm of bourbon, but also in the world of beer brewing. Up to this point, he had always brewed beer in the spring and summer months to battle the heat, and bourbon in the fall and winter time to stave off the frigid cold. Having become proficient in both fields, Ol’ Man Jenkins decided it was time to create a drink never before attempted; a mixture between beer and bourbon. So off he went, deep within the forest to remove himself from society so he could focus solely on his craft. Reports say he had been in the woods for a few months, while others say it was easily two years. But however long it was, when the forest hermit stepped out from the dense foliage, he carried with him two small wooden barrels. In these barrels, he said, lay his greatest work; bourbon barrel-soaked beer. For one day only he allowed the people of the town to form a line that stretched for miles in order to receive just a drop of the “ambrosia’ of the beer and whiskey gods. Having run out before the sun had even reached the point of noon, the old man retreated back into the forest to continue his work. Months later, the liquid began to show up in the locals bars, being sold for astronomical prices that the townspeople were more than happy to pay. When asked how they came to acquire the special brew, the barkeepers replied that they were not at liberty to say, but that they promised that from now on there would be a steady supply. With that, the townspeople cheered and drank to Ol’ Man Jenkins, who from that day forward was never seen again, but made sure his bourbon infused beer was never absent.

Review…

Name: Backwoods Bastard, Wee Heavy Ale, 10.2% ABV

Brewery: Founders, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Seeing as how this was my first ‘bourbon barrel-aged Scottish Wee Heavy”, I knew nothing in terms of what to expect. Besides the occasional sipping on Maker’s Mark every once in a while, I was a total rookie. However, once the bottle was cracked, the glass was tipped and the beer was flowing, I knew this would be a delicious brew. The bourbon aroma really wafts quickly to your nose. You also get the oak and smoke accompanied with a beer of this type.

The flavor ranks among my top choices in terms of complexity. Whether it is the upfront iodine/bourbon/smoke/oak/bitter-sweet chocolate flavor profiles, or the more nuanced notes of burnt caramel, vanilla and sharp cheese that ride along the finish, from beginning to end it is a transformation. Seeing as how it is a barrel-aged beer, that bourbon flavor is very present, with a palate numbing quality that takes an experienced and seasoned drinker to appreciate and love. Either way, this beer is one to sit and ponder over with friends and discuss. The alcohol is almost 11%, and it is VERY noticeable. A sipper to the Nth the degree with the bourbon making it something to enjoy for an hour or two. 

Once I was finished with this beer, I can definitely say I made it out in one piece after my first experience with a Wee Heavy. It is ranked in the top echelon for its style, and I can see why. Rich aroma, complex flavors and high drinkability make this beer one I will definitely turn to in the future. Truly delicious. Another masterpiece from Founders.

2

Brewed my Scottish ale today. The homebrew store didn’t have any peat smoked malt, so I substituted some German Rauch smoked malt. I haven’t used it before, but heard it’s not as smoky so I winged it and added a little more than double the amount.

Stone’s Saison was a nice companion too.