Sunday, February 5, 2012

Brew Day: Scottish Session Ale

Considering the number of 'Scottish' ales brewed in this country - nearly every small brewpub has at least one Scotch ale on tap during the year - it is a shame that so many of them are completely unlike the beers once brewed and consumed in Scotland. In fact, so much of what we think we know about Scottish beer is pure fantasy. Just as the our understanding of bagpipes, clan tartans, and the Highlands is a byproduct of 19th century nationalism (ahem, Walter Scott), so too has our understanding of Scottish ales been altered by various beer writers and pseudo-historians. While kettle caramelization, smokey peat malt, low hopping, and aging in whiskey barrels is practically de rigueur for any brewer looking to make a Scottish ale nowadays, the reality of it all is a different story. I cant't remember the last time I tried a 80/- or Wee Heavy that wasn't accompanied by the same faux history of Scottish ale. You know how it goes; the cold, highland spring water flavored with peat, low hopping because the Scots hated buying English hops, and the enormously long boils that caramelized the wort into a sticky and caramel-y mess. Yet, it wasn't long ago that I believed all of this.  

Historical mumbo jumbo aside, I thought it would be nice to brew up a small, session beer similar to a 70/- and serve it on cask in some form. I might just have to resurrect the cask for this one. The recipe is very simple, just Golden Promise and a little bit of black malt. I'll boil down most of the first runnings into a thick syrup and then add it back late in the boil. Not traditional, but it sure is tasty. Hopping is EKG and for the yeast, I'll be going with London III again. This stuff is so easy to top crop and makes such a nice beer, I don't know why I don't use it for everything. The medium attenuation, faint esters, and pleasant residual sweetness of 1318 should pair well with the beer. Scottish or not, I'm looking forward to drinking this in a month or two.

Young Pretender : Scottish Session Ale

Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.0
Anticipated OG: 1.042
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 12-14
Anticipated IBU: 22
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

99.0% - 6.00 lbs. Pale Malt, Golden Promise
1.0%   - 0.08 lbs. Black Patent Malt

0.75 oz. Organic EKG @ 60 min for 22 IBU

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London III
Mash 158F for 75 min
Brewed on 5 February


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