Tag Archives: Scottish 60 Shilling

Scottish 70 Shilling

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:

Scottish 70

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.

Election Night Beer Thoughts

I am sitting in my living room watching the election night coverage on MSNBC and thinking about beer.  It’s actually not much of a stretch because I have been thinking a lot about the President of the United States and beer.

Beer You Can Believe In

President Barack Obama is not actually brewing beer, but his surrogates in the White House kitchen did ferment two different beers—a so-called White House Honey Ale and a White House Honey Porter.  The recipes are available online, following a spirited online petition drive, at the White House’s official site.  Check them out.

Reviews of the beers have trickled in.  The New York Times enlisted the assistance of the good folks over at Brooklyn Brewery to sample the Honey Ale.   As I have read a few reports of these brews I come across as less excited about the prospect of brewing my own.  Why?  The ingredients seem a little heavy on the sweet with not enough hop bittering to even things out.  Brewed with honey from the White House’s resident bees—thank you First Lady—there is a lot of fermentable sugar for both the yeast strain to digest.  The hops used are also not high in quantity and mild in nature, reflecting the British origins as opposed to more bitter American hops that are in vogue right now.

Northern Brewer, my supplier of homebrew supplies, even has kits available for those wanting to try their hand at executive privilege.  Maybe the forthcoming Honey Blonde that is rumored will satisfy my craving for less sweetness and a little more hop forwardness.  We can hope for change!

Scottish 60 Shilling

My most recent beer—a Scottish 60 Shilling ale recipe kit—is out of the bottle:

Mild.  Very mild.  According to iBrewMaster this batch should have come in at about 20 IBU and 2.8% ABV.  I have no reason to disagree with those numbers because this beer is really mild.  Almost too mild.  The maltiness of the beer is not offset enough by hop bitterness.  In essence, the beer is not balanced well enough.

Dry Irish Stout and the Innkeeper

The next beer, which I have to bottle this weekend, is a Dry Irish Stout recipe kit.  I reduced the amount of time the hops were to be boiled to bring the bitterness down.  My hope is that it highlights the malt profile a little more.  I tend to like my stouts to be light and finish very clean, with little or no aftertaste on the palate.

The funny thing about this beer is that it went crazy when I came home from vacation.  Why?  Our house’s furnace was set at 56 degrees for 10 days and went up to 64 the day we came home.  The rise in temperature reanimated the yeast and it started bubbling away again.  I love how alive and unpredictable this entire process can be sometimes.  I really do feel like a mad scientist.

This weekend I am going to make a return to the Innkeeper recipe kit.  I had favorable impressions about this beer the first time around, so I am interested to see if I still like the profile or if my tastes are being redefined in a certain direction.

Pre-Disney Beer Thoughts

I am less than two weeks away from spending a week in Orlando at Walt Disney World.  The sacrifices I make for my daughter…

Scottish 60 Shilling and Dry Irish Stout

I have two batches of beer in carboys right now: a Scottish 60 Shilling and a Dry Irish Stout.  Nothing to really say about either of these two right now except for the fact that the Dry Irish Stout went crazy the first couple of days of fermentation.  How crazy?  The krausen blew the bubbler airlock off the rubber bung.  Wow!  Everything appears normal.

Apparently, there is some urban myth going on with regard to porter and stout as styles of beer.  This is one of the things that I dig about beer.  There is little if any consensus about the history of beer that it makes for fun bar discussions.

Petitie Saison d’Ete

Damn.  This beer really turned out well:

I could easily call this a smooth drinking beer, but that would be selling it short.  The description from the good folks at Northern Brewer said that it would have pungent hop aroma, but I get none of that.  Maybe that is a side effect of hitting the Surly Coffee Bender a little heavily lately.  It might also have something to do with the slightly understated hop profile of Saaz and Styrian Goldings hops.

Unlike some of the stronger beers I have been drinking lately, this saison has a relatively mild level of alcohol and the bitterness is really restrained.  As I develop my homebrewing skills and hone my palate, I have come to a few conclusions about my personal preferences:

  • Restrained alcohol (< ~6% ABV) is better than the stronger beers (> ~8% ABV)
  • Hops are a good thing, but the impact needs to be used with a judicious hand
  • Color is irrelevant

Those are my beer truths.  I am sure things are going to evolve as I continue to push myself as a homebrewer.


Fall Beer Thoughts

It’s fall and with the colder weather I really begin to focus on beer—drinking it, making it, and talking about it.  If I did not always bring a growler or two to share most people would just cringe to see me coming.

Dawson’s Multigrain Red

The first bottles of my Dawson’s Multigrain Red have been cracked:

I do not know how to classify this beer.  The official description from the good folks at Northern Brewer says that it’s a “a smooth, vaguely Irish-style, polyglot session beer that incorporates domestic and German malts, American hops, and British yeast.”  Basically, it’s a mutt.

The beer leans heavily on Willamette hops, but it does not come across as an ale from the Pacific Northwest.  Maybe it’s because Willamette’s best friend Cascade is not present in this beer.  Regardless of the classification this is a great beer to drink.  No one is going to spend hours discussing its relative merits or compare it to other beers.  A person is going to drink the beer and be happy to be doing so.  What more can you ask of a beer?

BTW, I cannot help but almost say Dawson’s Creek every time I talk about this beer.  I also keep seeing James VanDerBeek crying every time as well.  I won’t even think about brewing Dawson’s Kriek.

Bottled and in the Carboy

The latest beer is in bottles as of tonight.  It’s a Petite Saison d’Ete.  It’s usually considered more of summertime beer yielding to the stouts and heartier beer as the temperatures fall.  I had actually hoped to brew this beer for the late summer months—nothing like refreshing beer at the height of the dog days of August in Iowa.  However, I chose to brew some other beers for various reasons.

In the carboy is a Scottish 60 Shilling.  I am hoping that this mild beer can be a real crowd pleaser when I crack open the case of bottles at a get together I have scheduled toward the end of October.  Niche beers are nice to sample, but you want crowd pleasers when everyone has very different tastes.

Does Corn Get a Bad Rap as an Adjunct?

Corn in beer is basically the equivalent of bringing a can of Natural Light to a gathering of craft brewers.  It’s viewed as the ultimate compromise in brewing beer.  The folks over at Guys Drinking Beer have looked at the issue from various angles and come up with a reasoned point of view.

If you use the infamous German purity law as your basis, a lot American beers from the craft movement would be disqualified because of adjuncts.  In beer, an adjunct is not a bad thing on its own.  It’s just a departure from the strict interpretation of the essential ingredients that the Germans have codified.  You put raspberries or coffee or smoked oak chips in your carboy?  Sorry, it’s an adjunct.  Verboten!

Sure, when corn is used to brew Pabst Blue Ribbon or rice is used to brew Bud Light it’s a bad thing.  It’s also a bad thing that water was used because those beers are swill.  Corn and any other “adjunct” for that matter has a place on the potential ingredient list of people looking to make great beer.  If it can make the beer better, it’s allowed.  Pure and simple.

Beer for Backpackers

Why do I fear this creation?  Pat’s Backcountry Beverages is trying to make it possible for you to acquire some clean water, pour a flavor pack in, and end up with a bottle of carbonated beer.  No lugging bottles up the side of a mountain.

I appreciate the effort, but I have the greatest of reservations about the flavor and quality of this concoction.