Brew Day - Scottish 80 Shilling

Monday, October 31, 2011

With all of the things that require a decent amount of fussing-over when brewing beer, including the 4 - 4 1/2 hours to actually brew, chill and pitch the yeast, one would think that brewing is stressful or at least a pain in the ass.  For me, it's anything but.  All the fussing, all the things to be hauled, cleaned, sanitized, stared-at and stirred, is relaxing.  Plus, there are great spans of time in which I can peel away and still be an active member of my household.  It's like a two-fer for Mrs. Smitty; she gets beer, and still gets help with kids!

At Mrs. Smitty's request, this weekend's brew is a Scottish 80 Shilling.  That's their "export" beer, meaning its alcohol content and general malty robustness makes it travel-worthy (a lot of beer actually doesn't travel well).  The name refers to its cost Way Back When; 60 shilling, 70 shilling, 80 shilling - the price went up as the beer got stronger.  This, given old Scottish culture, was not designed to deter the consumption of higher-alcohol beer; rather, it reflected an increase in the amount of grains used.  More grains, more expensive beer.

Cracking the grains
A Scottish 80 shilling is a malty beer, but a balanced malt sweetness.  It's not a malt-bomb in the same sense as a Winter Warmer of a Barleywine, which is that syrupy-thick cloying kind of sweet.  A Scottish 80 is just...malty.  A hint of botterness from mild hops, and a slight roastiness from a scant handful of darker-roasted grains rounds out the palate of this crowd-pleasing style of ale.  Not a lot of complexity; in fact, it's sort of "boring" as that goes.  But it's an easy-drinking beer for sure, though on the upper end of sessionable.

The grain bill only weighs-in at about 10 pounds (9 pounds of a nice biscuity  malt called British Golden Promise, and 1 pound of English Medium Crystal for some color and roasted flavors), and the recipe only calls for 1 oz. of Fuggle or East Kent Golding hops (I used Fuggle), making the beer just barely bitter.  Fuggles and Goldings are extremely mild hops and are really there as a natural preservative and to remind you that this is a beer and not just grainy sugar-water!

Boiling wort
I am pretty happy with the mash, and despite the 43-degree temp in my garage, my mash tun kept the mash steady at about 155 degrees for 45 minutes of the hour it needed.  A quick addition of near-boiling water (about 3/4 gallon) brought the temp back up to 155 for the last 15-20 minutes of the mash cycle.

The beer is happily fermenting away in its dark little cabinet thanks to the big fat yeast starter I made.  I added Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale Yeast to a little bit of wort - made from 2 cups of water and 1 cup of dry light malt extract, which was happily fermenting by the time I pitched the yeast into the cooled wort.  2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, and a few days as I force carbonate it; we're drinking it by December 3!


Bob 12:08 PM  

Bust out the kilt.

I really should like Scotish Ales more considering my family tarten. Of those I have tried, the high alcohol tended to burn my sissy throat a bit to much for a beer.

I think I need to sample more.

Smitty 12:31 PM  

This one, according to my estimates based on my original gravity reading and my guess at the yeast floccuation "efficiency" rate, will be about 5.25%. That shouldn't give you a big alcohol burn.

Bob 1:08 PM  

" original gravity reading and my guess at the yeast floccuation 'efficiency'..."

Uhh, me no like big words.

Smitty 7:52 AM  

There's a formula you can use based on some easy measurements that you can make that help estimate alcohol content.

When the beer is done fermenting, I can make another similar measurement, and using the first set of measurements, I will know the alcohol content quite accurately.

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