Friday, December 16, 2011

Planning a hoppy Scotch ale

I've decided to make a hoppy scotch ale that's around 5-6% ABV to get some yeast ready for an 11-12% version of the Wee Heavy that I'll probably brew on MLK day.  This beer will be closest in style to a Scottish 80/- (80 Schilling) style beer, but with both Wee Heavy and Pale Ale notes.

My plan is as follows: using essentially a Wee Heavy grain bill and yeast, but add some roasted barley to the mix.  A traditional Wee Heavy apparently can use Roasted Barley instead of the Chocolate Malt that I used the three times I've made it.  The balance will be about 96% Maris Otter (English) malt, with about 2% each Chocolate Malt and Roasted Barley.

So, think reddish brown, with some light sweetness and light roastiness - not roasty like a porter, but roasty like an Irish red. 

In addition, I'll be fermenting this beer cool, to try and bring out some smoky notes from the Scottish yeast.

The question I'm struggling with is the hop profile that I want to have in this beer.  I want that somewhat heavy Scottish ale flavor and presence, but I want to balance it with a pale ale style hoppiness. 

Thanks to my buddy Thomas (and to Black Friday) I've got a number of hops on hand, and it's an issue of trying to figure out the flavor profile I want. 

Here's a few of the options I'm considering:

Glacier - Pleasant aroma of citrus mixed with sweet fruity of pear or apricot.
Zythos (blend) - Tangerine, Citrus, floral, pine and Grapefruit character
Falconer's Flight (blend) - a blend of 14 different hop varieties including Citra, Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. It is described as “…imparting distinct tropical, citrus, floral, lemon and grapefruit tone
Amarillo - A flowery, citrus-like aroma (more orange than grapefruit) with medium bittering value that is gaining acceptance as a substitute for Cascade due to its hardy nature.
Palisade - Aroma described as floral,  Subtle Apricot,  Grassy or  ”Pretty”.  Non-aggressive, smooth hop flavor with a fruity, non-citrusy aroma more characteristic of English style Pale ales

I'm thinking I want to use just one hop (or blend), so I can get a better understanding of the particular flavor profile that it will impart, but I want this batch to be something I'd enjoy drinking throughout the winter and spring months.

I'm really leaning toward a generic, clean English bittering hop up front, and dry-hopping it with Glacier.  But I'm a bit nervous that might be a bit too close to Marshall's McNellies Pub Ale (as it's Glacier hopped).  I want to try and make a beer that's unlike anything I've had before, anything I can get in the store.  I'm sure someone has over-hopped a Scottish ale before, but since I've never had it, I feel I can claim to be first to this particular party ;)

Alternatively, Falconer's Flight might really work well with this beer.  It's traditionally an IPA style collection of hops, but it could be toned down to try and balance out the malty-ness that I think will be present in this Scottish ale.

I've still got a few days (at least) before I have to make this decision, but it's what I'm kicking around.  Any thoughts are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know much about beer, but I wish I were around to try it next to some Scotch Scotch. ;) (oh what did you think of the whisky Paul & I got you for your wedding? I can't remember which one we picked up, I think it was Japanese?)