Continuing my quest to try new forms of session ales, earlier this summer I turned my sights to a Scottish Heavy, or Scottish 70/-. The style is relatively low alcohol, packs a fair bit of malt character, and can be completed relatively quickly. I found a recipe in the September 2019 issue of BYO, from a style profile article by Gordon Strong. I adapted it with minimal modification, other than some slight adjustments to account for differences in efficiency.
Scottish 70/- Heavy
6.75 lb. Golden Promise Finest Pale Ale malt (Simpsons)
7 oz. flaked barley
4 oz. Caramunich II (Weyermann)
2 oz. pale chocolate malt (Crisp)
2 oz. roasted barley (Bairds)
0.75 oz. Fuggles hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 pkg. American Ale yeast (US-05)
1.034 s.g., 1.010 f.g., 3.1% abv, 14 IBU, 13 SRM
Full-volume mash, no sparge, at 158°
Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet
I heated 7 gallons of water to 163°, and added the grains to hit a mash temperature of 158°. I added ~5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust pH. I held the mash at 158° with recirculation for 60 minutes, before raising the temperature to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out.
After the mash, I collected 6.25 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.033, for 74% mash efficiency.
Next, I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. I boiled for 60 minutes, before turning off the heat and chilling down to ~70°.
I transferred the wort to the fermenter, and measured a starting gravity of 1.037. I brewed the beer on 7 May 2022.
To achieve a slight fruity character for the yeast, I fermented at ambient, around 68°. My hope is that it shouldn’t be too over the top, but will have a touch of interesting character.
I kegged the beer on 21 May 2022, measuring a surprisingly high final gravity of 1.020. I’m guessing this is due to the high mash temperature, but even so I hadn’t expected such low attenuation (45%). Ah well! That means I have a wonderfully low abv of 2.2%. I force carbonated to about 2.0 volumes.
Crystal clear, amber beer, that pours with a persistent, fine ivory head. It is very pretty in the glass!
A moderate level of malty and caramel aroma at the front. Not much else.
Moderate level of maltiness, with a bit of caramel. Moderately low bitterness.
Fairly thin bodied, with low carbonation. Rounded finish, not quite dry.
Would I Brew This Again?
This is a fairly good beer, and certainly drinkable, but the tepid body detracts a bit from enjoyment. I don’t actively dislike this beer, but I can’t say I’m going to be brewing it again anytime soon. It’s just too thin. The beer is definitely one to let warm up a bit in the glass, although even then the malt character doesn’t come out as much as I’d like.
As a side note, I made a beer vinegar from this one. It was okay, but not quite as acidic as I would like–this is a good learning experience to ensure I focus on slightly higher abv beers for future vinegar projects.
In the winter months, it’s nice to have something malty and tasty but not overly heavy, as an “everyday” beer. Looking through Craft Beer for the Home Brewer recipe book, I ran across a clone recipe for 90 Shilling Ale from Odell Brewing Company. Although it has a Scottish name, the ingredients are anything but! I adjusted for the malts I had on-hand, and swapped in a pound of Vienna for a pound of 2-row, because I was finishing up my 2-row malt supply before opening a new bag. I called this batch “Aspiration Ale,” because it’s aspiring to be a 90 shilling ale, but sure as heck ain’t it!
7 lb. 6.5 oz. 2-row malt (Great Western)
1 lb. Munich light malt (Chateau)
1 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
9 oz. Carafoam malt (Weyermann)
8 oz. Crystal 75 malt (Bairds)
8 oz. Caravienne malt (Weyermann)
8 oz. white wheat malt (Briess)
1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 pkg. Nottingham yeast (Danstar)
1.051 s.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.2% abv, 9 SRM, 24 IBU
Infusion mash, 152°, full volume; 60 minute boil
Claremont water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines.
I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a target mash temperature of 152°. I added 3 mL of 88% lactic aid to a hit a pH of around 5.2 to 5.3. There was an amazing malt aroma to the mash; it smelled like malt and brown sugar and all sorts of goodness!
After 60 minutes, I raised the mash temperature to 168° for 10 minutes, and then removed the grain basket. In total, I got 6.4 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.045, for 68% mash efficiency.
I boiled the runnings for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the recipe. At the end of the boil, I chilled the wort down to 78°, transferred it to the fermenter, and let it sit at ambient temperature in the garage to let the temperature drop a bit more.
I fermented at 62° (garage ambient), and moved it inside to 65° ambient temperature on 7 December 2020.
I moved the beer outside to 60° ambient on 22 December 2020.
I kegged the beer on 27 December 2020, with 2.4 oz. of corn sugar. Final gravity was 1.012, for 5.0% abv. I hit my predicted numbers nearly exactly for this batch!
Medium amber beer with a moderately persistent ivory head and slight haze.
Malty, caramel aroma.
Toasty and malty, with a slight caramel character. This has a pretty clean yeast profile, with a touch of pear on the backend. Medium-low hop character; not much to report for this aspect!
Medium-light body and moderate carbonation. This has a really nice “round” finish!
Would I brew this again?
This beer drinks so easily. The balance between malt and hop is perfect, and it’s great to have an amber beer that isn’t too filling! There’s no way this is a “Scottish Ale” of any sort though (at least as compared to past recipes I’ve done), but in any case it’s a great beer. My minor ding keeping me from a perfect 10 is the slight haze; otherwise the beer is fantastic!
For Christmas this year, I wanted a special small-batch beer to sip on a cold, dark evening. I usually buy some barrel-aged commercial beers (Firestone Walker’s 2019 Old Man Hattan is particularly nice), so that flavor profile didn’t terribly appeal to me as a homebrew, especially not in larger volumes. After a bit of thought, I settled on a smoked ale. I’ve done a handfulof thoseover the years, trying out the porter and brown ale styles previously. For this iteration, something in the Scottish ale space was appealing. I could get plenty of malt and plenty of body, and it would (hopefully) stand up well to any smokiness. Thus, the Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale was born!
The recipe is built around the Scottish Export Ale BJCP style, which according to my reading sometimes is made with smoked variants. My version was based in part on Brulosophy’s Short & Shoddy Wee Heavy Recipe. To add a bit of smoked character, I put in two pounds (~16% of the total grain bill) of Briess cherrywood smoked malt.
In the spirit of the Short & Shoddy series, I cut a ton of corners in the brew day. I only did a 30 minute, full-volume mash, and a 30 minute boil. I used some oldish yeast, which meant I needed three packages total.
Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale
9 lbs. Maris Otter malt (Crisp)
2 lb. Cherry wood smoked malt (Briess)
5 oz. Biscuit malt (Dingemans)
5 oz. Caramel 120° malt (Briess)
5 oz. CaraPils malt (Briess)
4 oz. Crystal 75° malt (Bairds)
1 oz. Whitbread Golding Variety hop pellets (8.7% alpha), 15 minute boil
2 pkg. Tartan yeast (Imperial Yeast #A31)
1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)
1.063 s.g, 1.019 f.g., 5.8% abv, 21 IBU, 15 SRM
3.25 gallon batch
Full volume infusion mash, 156° target temperature
Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet treatment to remove chloramines
I mashed in with 5.35 gallons of water at 165.5°, hitting a mash temperature of 155°. By the end of the 30 minute mash, temperature was down to 152°.
I vorlaufed and collected 3.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.068, for 56% mash efficiency. This is a bit “thicker” than targeted, so I added 0.5 gallons of water to get 4.25 gallons of wort at a slightly lower gravity.
I boiled for 30 minutes, adding hops at the 15 minute mark. I then chilled down to 70°, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast.
Starting gravity was 1.066, on 24 November 2019. I fermented at 67°.
I kegged the beer on 10 December 2019. It had a final gravity of 1.014, for 6.9% abv.
Copper colored beer, moderately hazy, with a thin but persistent head.
Faint smoke aroma, but not overbearing. Slight caramel note, and very mild fruity esters as the beer warms up.
Modestly smoky, balanced nicely against the caramel and bready aspects of the malt. Bitterness is moderate, clean, and just about perfect for this beer. There is a very slight but pleasant sweetness to the beer. As I finish a glass, the smoke disappears behind the rest of the beer. On the one hand, it would be nice to smokiness be a bit more prominent, but on the other hand I think the drinkability would suffer. This is a rare smoked beer that can stand up to multiple pints!
This beer has a reasonable bit of body, and a medium-sweet finish. Carbonation level is moderate.
Would I brew this again?
I liked this beer pretty well! I find commercial smoked beers to be hit or miss, and I think the very moderate level of smoked malt I use paid off. Pretty much everything works about this one, and it’s a nice beer to enjoy on a cool SoCal winter day. I wish the clarity was a bit better at this point, but I never bothered to cold-crash the beer, nor did I use gelatin or even hot-side finings. I expect a combination of these would clear things significantly. I might also mash just a touch higher, as this beer would benefit from a slight bump in body.