Posts Tagged ‘scotch ale’

12 Beers of X-Mas: DC Brau Stone of Arbroath

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

From DC Brau here in Washington, DC, I’m tasting The Stone of Arbroath. This Scotch wee heavy, the winter seasonal from DC Brau, is named after the Drosten Stone, a mysterious Pictish stone with an usual inscription in Roman script.

The Stone pours a deep sienna brown bordering on black. The buff-colored head is creamy and thick, falling quickly but leaving a good lacing. DC Brau The Stone of ArbroathThe nose is light but complex, led by a sweet malt character of toast, chocolate and caramel. Dark stone fruit like plums follow, joined by a hint of banana ester. As it warms the sweet dark malt character grows more predominant.

The taste is surely rich and sweet, but somehow remains relatively balanced. Dark malt flavors blend with kettle caramelization to produce a robust toasty, roasty and sweet character. The full, creamy body is balanced by a strong alcohol warming and barely noticeable grassy hop bitterness. The roast character borders on a stout but the full sweetness keeps the burnt flavor at bay.

At first it seems this beer will be cloying, but the sweetness fades away quickly, yielding a balanced flavor. Yet the body never completely dies, ensuring that the spicy alcohol and roast malt character remain balanced to the end.

This is a beer my father, a lover of stouts, would quite like.

+DC Brau The Stone of Arbroath

4.0 (3-7-8-5-17)

Brau Brothers Scotch Ales

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

In 2005 brothers Dustin, Trevor, and Brady Brau decided to move brewing operations out of the Lucan, Minnesota brewpub they had ran since 1998, founding Brau Brothers Brewing Company. Their family name could only be more appropriate if it had the umlaut – bräu is the German word for brew. Tonight I will be trying two Scotch ales made by Brau Brothers. Both are made with peat-smoked malt, but only one is labeled peated.

Peat is compacted, decaying organic matter that forms naturally in the bogs throughout Scotland (and other high latitude areas), the first stage in the formation of coal. Because of the high energy content, peat is harvested and dried for use as fuel. For many years peat was the primary fuel used in malting kilns in Scotland, used to make malt not just for beer, but also for Scotch whisky. Nowadays, malt kilned over peat lends its characteristic smoky flavor to many types of Scotch as well as Scotch ales.

First up, a beer simply called Scotch Ale, which pours a nearly clear caramel brown color. There is not much head, just a few off-white wisps. The nose is malty, with a prominent nutty sweetness. Caramel and light toast add to the malty complexity. There is a hint of smoke that contributes an almost mesquite character to the aroma. Delicate and wonderful.

The nose is not very smoky, but the flavor certainly is, though not on the order of a German rauchbier. A rich caramel malt sweetness compliments the smoke, and the taste of hazelnuts and an herbal hoppiness round it out. The peat character dies away much too quickly, leaving a sweet, almost cloying aftertaste. More smoked malt would disrupt the careful balance, so the only solution would be to modify the recipe to create more fermentable sugar; were it a bit drier, this 7.3% beer would be dangerously quaffable.

Now I will move on to the Bàncreagie, labeled a peated Scotch ale. A clear, caramel-colored brew with some off-white head, much like the regular Scotch ale; the aroma of this one is actually milder. A bit of malt and some smoke character, but mostly a watery nose (if that’s possible?).

The flavor is also much milder than the above, which I was not expecting, given that this one is half a percent stronger and specifically labeled peated. The clean maltiness of this beer is more like a northern English brown ale than anything Scottish. The rich bready character of the Golden Promise barley is evident. A mild unpleasant character of fusel alcohols mingles with almost imperceptible smoke. As you drink the Bàncreagie it gets easier to tell yourself that all of that flavor is from the peated malt.

There is one thing this one does much better than the first – body. Where the Scotch Ale was sweet to the point of cloying, the Bàncreagie is dry enough to drink but sweet enough to prove the malt bill. Now if only there were a significant peat smoke flavor.

+Brau Brothers Scotch Ale

3.5 (3-8-7-2-15)

+Brau Brothers Bàncreagie

3.5 (3-6-8-4-14)

P.S. I know what day it is. I’m Scottish, not Irish.

12 Beers of X-Mas: Bell’s Christmas Ale

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas my beer fridge gave to me a Bell’s Christmas Ale. This offering from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan uses all Michigan-grown barley and lots of Michigan-grown hops. It’s said to be brewed as a scotch ale, an amber-colored malty and earthy style.

The Christmas Ale is an opal persimmon. The head, the color of wheat, is pillowy and lingering. The aroma is lightly fruity and cidery. I barely notice a bit of dark malt as well. A small but persistent sharpness indicates alcohol.

The flavor is prominently bitter. Though overall it is not more bitter than many regular pale ales, the bitterness is earthy and flat and almost numbs the tip of my tongue. The palate starts out intense as well, and it is cloyingly sweet. On the middle of the tongue i note a spiced flavor: a combination of ginger and pepper. The earthy hops contribute, and some caramel and brown malt flavor as well. A decent Christmas beer, though I’m not sure it’s very Scottish.

+/-Bell’s Christmas Ale

3.2 (4-7-6-2-13)