2010 First Footer – Scottish Export 80 Shilling Ale

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
IBUs: 19

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.

Last Brew of the Year – Belgian Golden Tripel Ale

2009 was a tremendous year for me, in terms of brewing. I brewed some of the best beers of my life this past year, and got back into the home brew supply business, taking over the home brew department at a local cooperative market. I decided to end the year with a bang, brewing a big (maybe HUGE) Belgian Tripel on New Year’s Eve.


  • 10 lbs. Belgian pale malt
  • 1 lb. malted wheat
  • 1 lb. Cara-pils malt
  • 1 lb. light Belgian candi sugar
  • 5 HBU’s Perle hop pellets (6.0% aa)
  • 2.1 HBU’s Styrian Goldings hop pellets (4.2% aa)
  • 2 HBU’s Saaz hop pellets (4.0% aa)
  • White Labs WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

The night before brewing, crush the 12 lbs. of grain.  On brew day, heat 16 qts. water to 165°F and mash in, reaching a temperature of 151°F. Hold the mash at 151°F for 90 minutes. Heat 14 quarts of water to 170°F and then begin runoff. Collecte 27 qts. of sweet wort and add the candi sugar. Bring the wort to boiling and add 2 HBU’s (1/3 oz.) Perle pellets. After 45 minutes add 2/1 HBU’s (1/2 oz.) Styrian Goldings pellets. After another 15 minutes (60 total so far) add 3 HBU’s (1/2 oz.) Perle. After an additional 15 minutes (75 total) add 2 HBU’s (1/2 oz.) Saaz pellets and continue boiling for another 15 minutes. Shut off heat after a total of 90 minutes. Chill the wort to 85°F (10 minutes from boiling to 85°), pour it into a sanitized 6-gallon fermenting bucket, take a hydrometer reading and pitch the Belgian Golden Ale yeast.

Original Gravity: 1080 The ale is now sitting at a room temperature of 64°F.

Brewing notes: I had intended to put 1/4 oz. of Perle at each of the two points in the boil but I spilled about 1/8 oz. of pellets into the gas flame on the stove top. Rather than repackage and keep a minuscule quantity of hops, I opted to put in the remaining whole package, minus the burning pellets under the kettle. The kitchen smelled like a Grateful Dead concert for a few minutes, if you know what I mean…

Style notes: A very strong golden ale, emphasis on the malt and aclohol, hop bitterness is a balance but not an overwhelming flavor. The use of candi sugar (derived from beet sugar, usually used in crystal or rock form) adds to the strength of the beer without darkening the color or adding to the body. Belgian Tripels are primarily brewed by the Trappist monasteries and the licensed Abbey breweries throughout Belgium. What’s the difference between “Trappist” beers and “Abbey” beers? Trappist beers can only legally be brewed at one of the seven actual brewing monasteries (Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achels, in Belgium, and La Trappe in the Netherlands); Abbey beers are brewed at secular commercial breweries, often (but not always) under license of a monastery that used to brew but no longer does so (Leffe and Grimbergen are examples of the latter). “Tripel” denotes a beer of high alcohol content, usually the strongest in a range, although a couple Belgian brewers make an occasional “Quadrupel”. In theory, traditional Trappist brewers made three different beers from the same mash. The first was naturally the strongest, and was marked with a XXX; the second, less potent, and often darker, was marked XX; the third, marked, if at all, with a single X, was the everyday table beer for the monks.

Bottling notes: 3/4 – I have added a photo of the beer in bottles – I opted for large Belgian bottles with corks and wires. Now to wait for it to be ready…