Scottish style beers can be a malt lover’s dream beer with its smooth sweetness and body. The epitome of malty, scotch ales is 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. Scottish ales commonly fall into four general types: Light, Heavy, Export and the Scotch Ale. Historically these distinctions carried labels of the shilling currency, which reflected the price charged per barrel of beer in the 19th century. For example, 60 shilling was used for light Scottish ales, 70 shilling for heavy, 80 shilling for export and above 90 shilling for Scotch ale or wee heavy. The Scotch Ale, compared to other Scottish Ales, offers richer color, more malty sweetness and higher alcohol that can range from 6-8 percent ABV. Wait, what? 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. Today’s Peaks and Pints to-go beer flight features both, a flight we call Peaks and Pints Pilot Program: Scotch Scottish Beer Flight.
Oskar Blues Old Chub
8% ABV, 25 IBU
Old Chub is a Scottish style 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.
6.5% ABV, 27 IBU
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. Warm fermentation produces fruity esters and balances the sweet malt character, as well as oaky vanilla and light tobacco. Layers of rich, sweet, powerful earthy malt — like freshly baked bread — makes Kilt Lifter great by itself or with food.
5.2% ABV, 28 IBU
John Johnstone founded Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar in 1719. Belhaven means “beautiful bay,” named after the stunning coastal location in East Lothian on which it resides. The home of Scottish brewing, Belhaven brews with local Scottish barley, water from its brewery well, its own unique Belhaven yeast and the choicest of hops from around the world. Belhaven’s Scottish Ale is a solid beer with a nutty, sweet flavor and a touch of oak in the aroma. Because the can has a nitrogen widget, this scotch ale has an extraordinary long-lasting head, which also gives it a very smooth and rounded mouthfeel.
6.4% ABV, 31 IBU
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro is the oldest craft brewery in Bellingham. It is the creation of Ed Bennett, a University of Washington alum who went on to earn his master’s degree in winemaking from UC Davis before landing in another small college town, Bellingham, to begin exploring his new love, beer. In 1994, he signed the lease for the Thomas Burns building at 1107 Railroad Ave. to begin building Boundary Bay Brewery. His Scotch Ale became a Northwest classic with the inaugural brew in 1995. The long boil in the kettle caramelizes the wort, producing deep-copper tones. Scotch Ale hits the nose with caramel and biscuit, which is also the flavor profile with added light spiciness, oak notes, and a touch of fruit.
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 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.
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 drier than a typical Scotch malt bomb.