American history, yeah, you remember that — you paid attention in elementary school history class, you watched Gone With the Wind, yeah! OK, face it: Most of us don’t know our history at all. The story of America is full of accidents and improbabilities, grand ambitions and terrible tragedies, sudden changes and the slow march of time. In other words, the stuff of great literature. A good way to spend your self quarantine would be to open, or launch, Charles C. Mann’s exploration of American life before the arrival of European explorers in “1491,” Joseph J. Ellis’ account of the decades following the American revolution in “Founding Brothers,” Bruce Catton’s recounting of the final year of the Civil War in “A Stillness of Appomattox,” Studs Terkel’s painful look at the Great Depression in “Hard Times,” and the list goes on. Of course, you’ll need a craft beer while you educate your brain. Books and alcohol have been bedfellows for centuries. We’re thinking Peaks and Pints Pilot Program: Scotch Ale On The Fly — a to-go flight of American Scotch ales pairs nicely with American history.
There’s a difference between Scottish and Scotch ales? There certainly is. Mainly, Scottish ales are ales brewed in Scotland or in the Scottish style. Scotch ales are US and Belgian interpretations of the Scottish style strong dark ale, which are a malt lover’s dream beer, with its smooth sweetness and body. The epitome of malty, Scotch ales are boiled twice as long as ordinary beer, caramelizing the sugars to build these deep flavors of maple and molasses. Recipes may include peat-smoked malt, which can lend smoky, earthy tones to the aroma and flavor.
Enjoy this Scotch ale flight and a great American history book over the week. Cheers!
Rooftop Scotch Scotch Scotchity Scotch Ale
7.8% ABV, 30 IBU, bottle
Rooftop Brewing Company approaches Scotch ale with the philosophy “More Peat, Less Sweet.” The Seattle brewery’s Scotch Scotch Scotchity Scotch Ale recipe includes Scottish malt smoked with peat — just like an Islay Scotch — for an amazingly delicious smoky, peat-y finish that is more dry than a typical Scotch malt bomb.
8% ABV, 25 IBU, can
Old Chub is a Scotch ale brewed with copious amounts of crystal and chocolate malts, a dash of beechwood-smoked malts and Nugget hops. While Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale is a showcase of both hops and pale malts, Old Chub is a celebration of malts. The cola-colored beer features a dense, tawny head, a creamy mouthful and flavors of caramel, chocolate and lightly roasted malt. Complex and rich, it finishes with a whisper of smokiness that calls to mind a fine single malt scotch and Gen. Washington’s crossing the Delaware River.
9.2% ABV, 25 IBU, growler or bottle
Silver City Brewery’s Fat Woody Scotch Ale is aged for the course of several weeks on American White Oak, lending a remarkable vanilla character, and adding a melodic riffage to the tight backbeat of original Fat Scotch’s peaty malt bill. The nose is sweet, extremely caramel-y, lightly smoky, earthy, and woodsy, with cola, brown sugar and molasses. On the palate, it’s very sweet and fully malty, with tons of sweet caramel, cola, raisin and prune, milk chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, smoky wood, and mushroom-y earth.
12.8% ABV, 30 IBU, can
Pike Brewing‘s heavy Scotch ale is lightly hopped with a strong malt character, and a subtle underlying smokiness from the addition of a small amount of peated Scotch whisky malt, which adds complexity. Then, the Seattle brewery ages Kilt Lifter in Dry Fly Distilling barrels for sweet and spicy notes of bourbon, wheat, and triticale whiskeys, finishing smoothly with full malt character and a hint of smoke. A chest-warming treat while learning about the Civil War.
10.8% ABV, 34 IBU
Black Raven’s Second Sight Strong Scotch Ale was transformed after resting in bourbon barrels, emerging as the delicious Splinters Strong Scotch Ale. Aged for many months in various bourbon barrels, Splinters picks up the best of the barrel for added complexity of flavor. All of the barrels are then combined and the beer is aged for another month in a stainless steel tank to meld and mature into a sweet ale, with bourbon, vanilla, caramel and a scotch ale finish.