Improvising in the Brew House…

Brewing, when you do it as often as I do and for as long as I have, becomes a ritual. I have my set Brew Day, Thursday, and I plan around it as if it were a sacred holiday. The days leading up to Brew Day have their parts in the ritual as well. On Tuesday, I check the recipe and make sure I have all the ingredients in hand, and make sure all the equipment is clean and ready to use. On Wednesday, at work, I buy any necessary missing ingredients and then, once home, prep the yeast and weigh and measure the grains. I even fill the kettle with the necessary mash water and set it on the stove. In that way, at first light on Thursday morning, I can stumble downstairs and turn on the stove while I grope for coffee and turn on the computer and modem. By the time I’m awake, it’s almost time to mash in.

Well, as Robert Burns once wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley…” I won’t go into the details, but the last week or so have been overwhelming in terms of obligations, distractions and general stuff. And so I forgot to check the recipe on Tuesday. And found Wednesday night, much to my surprise, that I didn’t have the right grains, the right yeast or the right hops in the house to brew what I had planned to brew, a Cherry Wheat ale.

Well, after my initial shock and my first impulse to take the week off from brewing (I hear you out there – gasp! no! not that!), I inventoried what I did have and managed to tweak next week’s recipe slightly and that’s what I’m brewing today instead. A glimpse of the future? A revisitation of the past? Both – join me as I brew a clone of my favorite French beer…

Addled-Scott (clone of Adelscot, Schiltigeim, France)
5 gallons, all-grain


  • 9 lbs. lager malt
  • 14 oz. peated malt
  • 12 oz. Special B malt
  • 7 oz. cara-amber malt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 5.4 AAU’s Northern Brewer hop pellets (1/2 oz. @10.8% aa)
  • 10 AAU’s Spalt hop pellets (2 oz. @5% aa)
  • White Labs Irish Ale Yeast (WLP004)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming

Grind grains. Heat 14 quarts of water to 166°F, mash in grains and hold at 155°F for 90 minutes. Heat 14 more quarts of water to 170°F, begin runoff and sparge, collecting 26 quarts of sweet wort. Add brown sugar. Heat to boiling, add Northern Brewer hops, boil 30 minutes. Add 1 oz. Spalt hops, boil another 15 minutes. Add 1 oz. Spalt hops, boil 45 more minutes (90 total), remove from heat. Chill to 80°F, take hydrometer reading and pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast. Seal and ferment at 62 – 64°F for 7 – 10 days, rack to secondary. Age cooler (55- 58°F) for 10 – 14 days. Prime with corn sugar and bottle, condition 10 – 14 days.

OG: 1075
IBU’s: 65.5

Notes on brewing: My original recipe had 120°L crystal instead of the Special B, and Munich malt instead of the cara-amber – but guess what? I didn’t have any of either in the house… Additionally, I wasn’t particularly confident in the viability of the Irish ale yeast I had – it was a saved slurry from a previous brew that had been in the yeast fridge for about 4 months – so I also added a packet of Nottingham dry ale yeast.

Notes on the beer and the style: Adelscot, originally brewed by Adelshoffen in the 1980’s, may be the first modern beer deliberately brewed with peated malt flavor. The brewery is now a subsidiary of Fischer in Alsace, who have also introduced a black version, Adelscot Noire. This beer was a revelation for me when I first lived in France as a college student. Called “the beer brewed with whiskey malt”, it’s a sweetish smoky beer, bright amber/orange in color with a real peaty nose. I had never tasted anything like it and fell in love. I wasn’t much of a Scotch drinker then, either, but I think this beer was a factor in pushing me in the direction of single malts. It’s been a few years now since I’ve had the real thing – it’s hard to find in the states – but I have brewed my own clone a couple of times. My version is a little smokier than the original.

If you like the image of the beer coaster above, check out this website I found.

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