Over a year ago I poured a glass of Scottish 60 Shilling and found it to be a little too mild for my tastes. The beer was very low in alcohol and bitterness. Thinking back on it, I should have described it as a dark and malty version of you average American light beer. I do not think that this is a bad thing, per se, but the beer’s appearance and its drinking character were kind of at odds. Call it beer drinking dissonance.
This time I moved “up the ladder” and brewed a Scottish 70 Shilling:
Fermented with Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale, the beer comes out true to description as neutral and clean per the yeast strain description.
As a “far cry from a Wee Heavy” according to the lads at Northern Brewer, this is a good drinking beer for cooler temps. I bottle conditioned this batch, but per the description at Northern Brewer’s website this would be a great beer carbonated at a slightly lower level and served with food that could be termed rustic. It is hopped to what is considered the high end for the style. Consider, however, that this means approximately 1.5 oz of US Fuggle hops in total. Compared to a lot of modern American Pale Ales this is downright tiny. Also, US Fuggle is a pretty mild hop variety having about one-half the alpha acid content to the more common craft beer hops like Cascade or Willamette.
When you drink beers that hew toward the traditional styles of the United Kingdom—in whatever iteration you want to consider the United Kingdom—it’s easy to see why people considered beer to be liquid bread. You can almost taste the structure of baked bread in these beers. Heck, it almost makes me want to sit down to a plate of bangers and mash while watching Everton eek out another mildly impressive season considering the resources at the club’s disposal.
It’s my belief that beers like this do not get enough attention because so much time is focused on the over the top or gimmicky beers coming from the countless craft breweries that are opening their doors across this great country. Everyone wants to stand out in some way as that is the path toward longer term success in a marketplace that is increasingly saturated. However, modest and drinkable beers are the ones that we, as beer drinkers, will return to time and time again.
Often derided as “house” beers, much like table wine is derided by wine snobs, these are the types of beers that occupy our refrigerators for a pint or two on a Wednesday night. That is not a shame. Rather it is an honor.
Next up is a SMASH American Session Ale. It’s also going to be the last batch I put into bottles because I am moving into the world of kegging over Christmas break. Check back to see my keezer build.