Beer Types – Scotch Ale

Scotch Ale was first used as a designation for strong ales exported from Edinburgh in the 18th century. The term has become popular in the USA, where strong ales which may be available in Scotland under a different name are sold in America as “Scotch Ale”. As with other examples of strong ales, such as Barley wine, these beers tend toward sweetness and a full body. Examples from the Caledonian brewery would have toffee notes from the caramelizing of the malt from the direct fired copper. This caramelizing of Caledonian’s beers is popular in America and has led many American brewers to produce strong toffee sweet beers which they label as a Scotch Ale.

Scotch Ale or Whiskey Ale is a designation used by brewers in France and Belgium for peat-smoked malt flavoured beers. Even though the malt used by distillers in Scotland is no longer dried by peat burning, some peat smoke flavour is added during malting by an additional process.Although recent research from brewing historian Ron Pattinson shows a lack of evidence for peat smoked malt being used by any Scottish breweries, American craft brewers often add peat smoked malt in their versions of Scotch ale. These malts are occasionally used in beers where the peat smoke flavour is reminiscent of whisky.

also known as “Wee Heavy.” In the 19th century Scotland, they’d also be known as 160/-, a nomenclature based on the now obsolete shilling currency. Scotch Ales traditionally go through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort. This produces a deep copper to brown in colored brew and are best served in a thistle glass.

Examples are the scotch ales from Samuel Adams, McEwan’s, Simple Malt & McAuslan (pictured above). Food pairings that go best with a scotch ale are roast pork, smoked salmon, or lamb and other grilled meat.

2 thoughts on “Beer Types – Scotch Ale

  1. All I read was u wearing a kilt. My mind is blank now. :D My Scottish lassie (heavily diluted with Australian ofcourse).

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