• Dining

Beers For Cold Nights

Just add a fire and sip on a scotch ale


November 10, 2017
By Jeff Gredlein | The Beer Snob

As the malt onslaught of fall continues, another style of beer that you likely saw little of during the warm months will rear its head. Not that this type of ale is a fall or winter seasonal, it’s just well-suited for cool to cold evenings, and the sweetness of the malt easily surpasses the bitterness of the hops. As the once-a-year specials like pumpkin ale and Oktoberfest start to fall away from the shelves, you’ll need other options to help stave off the chill of autumn.

The style of beer is Scotch ale, and it’s quite different from many of the styles produced by Scotland’s southern neighbor. Due to a longer brewing process, and little if any hops in the mix, beers from Scotland can be extremely malty. The style known as standard Scottish ale is a somewhat dark, moderately malty beer that can have hints of peat or smoke, and finishes dry with a medium body. Scotch ale is much stronger and sweeter, with a fuller body and higher levels of alcohol.

Ales from the UK’s north were originally broken down into three categories, based on the now defunct currency of the shilling, demarking the alcohol and taste strength of the particular brew. 60 shilling was used for light Scottish ale, 70 for heavy, and 80 for export strength beer. 90 to 160 shilling signified strong scotch ale.

A widely available, year round Scotch ale is Old Chub from Oskar Blues. This nearly black ale with mahogany edges shows deep crimson when held to the light. A thick, creamy khaki head sits atop the beer, and leaves dark lace on the glass that disappears rather quickly.

Aromas of dark chocolate and roasted caramel arise from the beer, while the flavors mimic the smell. Medium to full bodied, but smooth and creamy as hell, this is one tasty dark beer. I get very little peat or smoke, but be careful because this one (8% ABV) will sneak up on you before you know it.

Out last week, and a real treat if you can find it, you’ll be lucky to sip on the extremely limited release Backwoods Bastard from Founder’s Brewing Co. I adore this beer, and try to buy a 4-pack every year; one or two to drink, the rest to store away for another day.

Backwoods Bastard shows up almost muddy in the glass, brown and opaque. A fluffy, solid head sits atop the liquid and everything about this beer screams malt.

From Founder’s website:  “Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.”

Checking in at 11.6% ABV, all you’ll need is one bottle and fall’s bite will melt away. Hints of alcohol give a slight burn at the swallow as this beer warms, and room temp is where it really shines. Take your time, it will be worth it. In any case, grand options for a chilly fall night, or even for the cellar. Slainte Mhath (to good health). Enjoy the brews … Cheers.

Gene’s Haufbrau has at more than 200 in bottles or on tap. While they don’t have every beer the Beer Snob writes about, they probably  have most. E-mail the Beer Snob at publisher@westof.net.


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