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Scotch Ale (2005)


Scots have been making beer since at least Neolithic times. In 1985 archaeologists uncovered Pictish pots dating from 6500 B.C. containing remnants of beer brewed with barley and oats, honey or heather, meadowsweet and royal fern. In the late fourth century the Irish High King Niall of the Nine Hostages launched a campaign against the Picts, at least in part to learn the Scots’ brewing secrets. He succeeded in wiping out the Pictish population of Galloway, but was unable to extract the secrets of Scottish ale even from the last survivor.

Luckily, Scottish ale survived, and it remains some of the most flavorful beer in the world. Because of the cold, blustery climate, Scottish brewers have developed brewing techniques and style all their own. The local weather lends itself to the growing of barley and oats, but not to the production of hops. The use of hops in Scottish ales is a relatively recent addition, and when used, hops are almost always added sparingly.

The cold weather impacts fermentation, too. The yeast must work at cooler temperatures than is customary for ales, which results in less attenuated, maltier, but also cleaner, less fruity or estery, beers. The color in these ales most often comes from black roasted malt, which imparts some dryness, but because of the lower attenuation and hopping rates, Scottish ales are almost always slightly sweet and incredibly drinkable.

The designation “Scotch Ale” has come to represent the strongest, most full -bodied of the Scottish ales. Ours was brewed with British black roasted barley and biscuit malt, gently hopped with British First Golds, fermented cool and aged cold for weeks for smoothness. It is copper-brown in color, with some sweet maltiness and plenty of body.

Because it lacks the assertive hoppiness of some other ales, Scotch Ale is an easy match for food. Try it with ham, roast pork or chicken, roasted vegetables or venison. It would also complement crème brûlée or, most traditionally, Scottish butter shortbread cookies. Alcohol by volume 7.4%.

2006 - Gold Medal, Scottish Ale (North American Brewers Awards)