Being of Scottish heritage, I make it a tradition to brew a Scottish ale of some kind as my first brew of any new year. In Scotland, your luck and fate for the year are said to be determined by the first person who enters your home on New Year’s Day, and by how you treat them.
Many of my recipes, and my brewing in general, are inspired by my friend and mentor Greg Noonan. Greg wrote the book on Scotch Ale. I worked with Greg, at the Seven Barrel Brewery, for several years, and kept in touch after I left there and he shifted his focus back to the Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington. I saw Greg for the last time during the summer of 2009. We had a good laugh, he bought our beers at the VPB, and we parted as we always did, with a hearty handshake. I was shocked and very saddened to hear of Greg’s passing just a few months later. I find it very appropriate to dedicate this first brew of the new year to Greg, with thanks and affection.
- 8 lbs. pale malt
- 2 oz. roasted barley
- 2 oz. peated malt
- 1.125 HBU’s East Kent Goldings hop pellets (.25 oz. @ 4.5% aa)
- 4.6 HBU’s Fuggles hop pellets (1 oz. @ 4.6% aa)
- White Labs Edinburgh Ale yeast (WLP028)
- 2/3 cup light dry malt extract (for priming)
The night before brewing, crush the grains. On brew day, heat 13 quarts of water to 164°F. Mash in the grains, hold at 150 – 152°F for 90 minutes. Heat 13 more quarts of water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge. Take the first half-gallon of wort and boil it for 20 minutes (to caramelize and increase the “butterscotch” flavors). Add this back into the rest of the wort. After runoff and sparging you should have about 5 gallons of sweet wort. Bring to a boil. Add EKG hops, boil 15 minutes. Add half the Fuggles hops, boil another 15 minutes. Add the rest of the Fuggles hops, boil another 30 minutes (total 60 minutes). Remove from heat, chill to 80 – 85°F. Pour into fermenter, splash and oxygenate as much as possible. Take hydrometer reading, pitch Edinburgh yeast, seal up and set aside to ferment at 65 – 70°F. After 10 -12 days, rack to secondary and age two to three weeks. Bottle with dry malt extract, condition at least two weeks.
Original Gravity: 1050
Style notes: This is not a strong beer, more of a session beer. Scottish ales are generally labeled by the old system, based on the tax per barrel. The stronger the beer, the higher the tax. This is an 80 shilling ale, about mid-way up the tax scale. The really strong Scotch Ales, also known as “wee heavies”, are often labeled as 140 shilling or more. Not also that the hops in this beer are restrained. We Scots are cheap, as many know, and hops are (or were, back in the day) expensive. Scottish ales are more malty, less bitter, less hoppy than English ales of similar strength.
Brewing notes: This ale would not normally have peated malt in it. I like the smoky flavor the peat imparts. Sue me.
I was assisted in brewing this ale by the immensely talented Rick Scully, webmaster, brewer, shepherd and friend. Who was also building this website and installing wireless internet in my house at the same time. I bow in his general direction.