Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Alba Dog

I took last Friday 11/18 off work to burn through another vacation day and brew a beer. This was the first time in a while that I’ve brewed without… purpose. In July, I did two batches of pumpkin ale for Halloween/Thanksgiving, in early October I did a hop harvest beer to try out the hops I grew this past summer, and in early November I did a Belgian honey ale for release after the birth of my daughter in February. The only purpose I had in brewing this Scotch ale was that I FREAKING LOVE SCOTCH ALE. It’s probably my favorite style if I were forced to choose.

I’ve decided to call this batch Alba Dog, not in homage to Jessica Alba so much as that Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. Combine that with “alpha dog” and you get “Alba Dog.”

Using my nifty new iPhone and Brew Pal app., I was able to export the recipe and paste it in here:

Scotch Ale

Batch size 5 gallons
Boil size 7.25 gallons
Boil time 60 minutes
Grain weight 20 pounds
Efficiency 65%
Original gravity 1.084
Expected Final gravity 1.022
Expected Alcohol (by volume) 8.6%
Bitterness (IBU) 25
Color (SRM) 22.0°L
1500 ml yeast starter (1c DME)
White Labs


Endinburgh Scottish Ale
20 pounds
Golden Promise

    32ppg, 2°L

15 pounds


Munich (Light)

    34ppg, 10°L

3 pounds



    30ppg, 20°L

1 pound


Dry Sugar – Brown

    42ppg, 40°L

0.59 pounds



    29ppg, 350°L

0.25 pounds


Black Patent

    27ppg, 500°L

0.16 pounds


2 ounces
Goldings (Kent) hops

    6.3%, Whole

2 ounces (1 oz. in at 45″, the other in at 35″)
60 minutes, 9.9 gallons

    Target 158°F

7.3 gallons


60 minutes (+0)


    Target 170°F

5 gallons


90 minutes, 6.9 gallons
Goldings (Kent) hops

    6.3%, Whole

1 ounce

45 minutes (+45)

Goldings (Kent) hops

    6.3%, Whole

1 ounce

35 minutes (+55)

Wort chiller 15 minutes (+75)

In order to get that super carmelly flavor characteristic of a Scotch Ale, I took about 1.5 gallons of the first runnings from the mash tun and boiled that separately on the stove down to about 0.5 gallons of thick, malt syrup. Meanwhile, I sparged nearly 7 more gallons out of the mash. I combined the thick syrupy wort with the regular wort as the entire batch came to a boil. I also added in the brown sugar at this time.

Check out the times on the clock and the volume of the wort syrup (I ended up transferring burners so I could make lunch, it was a long process):

Man, compared to the Belgian honey ale I did two weeks prior, the minimal amount of boil additions in this Scotch ale batch made things much easier on brew day. Also, with less “stuff” going into the boil, I came out with greater wort volume at the end of the day.

Normally on brew day, there are a few things that don’t go quite as planned or a few steps I wish I would have executed differently. Not the case here. I’m very happy with how brewing this batch went and am very optimistic as to the eventual results.

Pre-mash (nearly 20 lbs. of grain, very full tun!):

Mixed the 4 oz. of Chocolate malt into the mash just before beginning to vorlauf so as to limit the amount of roastiness imparted while still getting the color and hint of chocolate flavor. You’ll also notice my mash temp was a little high at about 157*. This was intentional, as I wanted to end up with a sweeter product. The higher your mash temperature, the less fermentable your wort is. Read this BYO article to learn more about the impact of mash temperatures and mash thickness.


One response

  1. Pingback: Scottie Karate vs. Old Chub vs. Alba Dog « Barking Dog Beer

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