Beam me up Scotty
I’m on two distinct beer style kicks right now. Belgian and scottish. During a recent trip to Casanova Bottle Shop in Hudson, I picked up a handful of Scotch- and Scottish-style ales so I could compare them and find my favorite. I got interested in these styles a few months ago after ordering a pint of Founders’ Dirty Bastard. Here’s what I’ve sampled over the last few weeks:
- Old Chub, Oscar Blues (CO)
- Winter Warmer, Rush River (WI)
- Robert the Bruce, Three Floyds (IN)
- Dirty Bastard, Founders (MI)
- House Ale, Traquair (Scotland)
Ok, I’ll try to keep this brief. They’re listed from least to most favorite below:
#5 – Robert the Bruce, Three Floyds (IN)
Very little carbonation, thick and malty yet attenuated, immediate roast aftertaste fades to straight maltiness then with a tiny hop bite at the very end as it lingers. Almost like a brown ale plus roasted malt and a few more IBU’s. The absence of actual “scotchy” flavor was disappointing, but to be fair, the label does say “scottish ale” not “scotch ale.” Either way, an ok beer that has a lot of hype behind it. My least favorite of the bunch, I might order a pint at the bar but probably will never buy it in bottles again.
#4 – Winter Warmer, Rush River (WI)
This one was kind of cool in that it looked like an IPA or an Amber Ale, yet had that scottish roasty kick to it. A scottish christmas ale? It’s like they added roast or a little peat malt to a holiday spice ale recipe. Maybe this is actually an Irish Red Ale? The guy working at Casanova thought it was a Scotch Ale but I can see how he’d be confused given the close proximity of the two according to the BJCP style guidelines. Overall, the uniqueness of this style interests me, which is why it beat out Three Floyds. I might buy a 6 pk. of this next winter just for the unique factor and for the fact that they’re located in a neighboring state, maybe would order it at the bar.
#3 – Dirty Bastard, Founders (MI)
I expected the beer that got me started on this Scotch ale kick to fair better in this competition. I remembered how “scotchy” this brew was the first time I had it on tap. I didn’t get that nearly as much out of the bottle here. I did perceive a little oaky-ness, which was nice. It was super malty and thick, slightly bitter but most of the hops I perceived were probably flavor or aroma additions. Good, not great. Probably because of the reduced scotch flavor. Now that I’ve had this in bottles and on tap, I’d still order the tap version again to see if I’m remembering that one correctly or not. Probably won’t buy this in bottles again.
#2 – House Ale, Traquair (Scotland)
This one probably leans closer to being a “scottish” rather than “scotch” ale, but I appreciated how well-balanced the malt level was with the roast flavors and how much they dialed back the hops to play up the roast. A very clear brew, dark amber in color. There is a lot of history behind this brewery and they’re well regarded in the homebrewing community for producing exemplars of the style. Based only on import pricing, I probably won’t buy too many 6 pks. of this but would definitely like to order a pint or two on tap somewhere. I’m pretty sure that’s not an option in Minneapolis though.
#1 – Old Chub, Oscar Blues (CO)
Yes! Very “scotchy.” This is what I crave right now in a Scotch Ale. It’s on the malty side, covers up a good portion of the roasty notes, yet they’re still there to compliment the overall malt bill. I’m definitely perceiving some peat malt. Dig that a lot. Head retention wasn’t awesome, but still very good. I’d definitely buy at 12 pk. of this and would order it at the bar. A clear frontrunner!