It's time for a new beer on the Badass Tap and this time we're heading north... way north to Scotland. Well, Scotland via California as we tap a keg of Bear Republic Heritage Wee Heavy. Some of you might already be familiar with the style having supped on Real Ale's spring seasonal, Real Heavy, and last year we had cans of Oskar Blues Old Chub on the menu here at Lamar.
Scottish ales are similar in most respects to English bitters and pales but they have a stronger malt character as a result of an extended boil in the brew kettle which also imparts hints of caramel and dark sugar, a rich, dark brown colour and a full body. If the malt was dried over a peat fire there'll be a smoky element to the beer reminiscent of (but nowhere near as intense as) those delicious malt whiskies from Islay such as Laphraoig and Ardbeg. There might be a slight bitterness in the finish and a hint of hops in the nose, but malt is front and centre here.
The strength of Scottish ales can vary enormously and there exists a curious system of categorisation based on the price per barrel in British shillings. Light (or 60 Shilling) is the least alcoholic at around 3.5% or less, followed by Heavy (70 Shilling), Export (80 Shilling), and Wee Heavy (90 Shilling) at 6% and above. Real Ale's brew, for instance, comes in at a respectable 9.7% ABV. Bear Republic's Heritage isn't far behind at 8.1%. Walk into any pub in Glasgow and you'll still hear patrons asking for "a pint of heavy".
Hopheads need not fret - there'll be something a bit special for you once the Heritage is done.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar “If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson