Brew Challenge 2011 Scottish Strong Ale

In the brew challenge of 2011 we will brew a Scottish Strong Ale. First of all, some research about Scottish brewing and beers. The following information are mainly from the Classic Beer Style Series book about Scotch Ale from Gregory J. Noonan and from the BJCP 2008 guidelines.

Scotch Ale:
Scotchmen used sparging, 90 min boils, low fermentation temperatures, cold storage, brewed in winter and used soft water for their brews. Methods are more similar to lager brewing than the commonly used English techniques.

Important for Scotch Ales:
Pitch at 10°C and ferment around 18°C (if OG < 1.090). Decrease temperature to 17°C if OG is 1.090 – 1.128. Use roasted barley (2.3%) and no Crystal. The caramel character comes from the caramelization in the kettle during the boil. Color range between 25- 28 EBC (brown). Use soft water (see profile below). Hops: Goldings, Fuggles or any Bavarian hops. Hops in Scottish Ale are just for bittering and not for flavor. Yeast: clean (low ester), ferments at low temperatures, under-attenuative (65-70% apparent attenuation), alcohol tolerant. Mash at higher temperatures with a thick mash (2 L kg-1). Raise mash temperature very quick to 78°C for mash out! Sparge with >78°C water. pH mash: 5.1- 5.4. pH in kettle < 5.3. Boil for 90 min. Add hops for 45- 60 min. Pitching rate: 18- 22 106 cells mL-1. 1.7 – 2.0 Vol CO2.

Profile of Scotch Ale:
Malty, low ester (no fruits), alcohol may be present. Copper to brown color. Rich malty flavor with hints of roasted malt or smoky flavors. Hop flavor and bitterness are low to medium-low. Medium to full body. Thick and chewy viscosity. Smooth, alcoholic warmth is usually present. Moderate carbonation.
>17-35 IBU, 28-50 EBC, 6.5 – 10 ABV.

To get a malty beer it is very important to mash at higher temperatures and to quickly raise the temperature for mash out. Sparge with 82°C strike water. Use a mash thickness of 2 L kg-1 and mash for 90 min at around 70°C. Use water profile below and check mash pH. Ferment at cool temperatures and pitch the right amount of yeast! The pitching rate seems to be the most important step to successfully brew a Scotch ale! Ferment at around 18°C for two weeks. After bottle fermentation store the beer at 4-10°C for 2-3 month for conditioning.

Water profile:
Use Burgdorfer water and add:
Mash (20 L): 2.08 g MgSO4 7 H2O, 0.65 g NaCl
Sparge (33 L): 3.2 g MgSO4 7 H2O, 1 g NaCl

New water profile: 81 ppm Ca2+, 25 ppm Mg2+, 25 ppm Na+, 71 ppm SO42-, 36 ppm Cl, 248 ppm HCO3, 203 ppm CaCO3, 131 ppm residual alkalinity as CaCO3, total 486 ppm
Estimated mash pH = 5.4


Recipe: BC11: Strong Scotch Ale (120 Shilling Wee Heavy)
Numbers: Volume 26 L (6.7 gal)
Original gravity 22.2°P
Terminal gravity Not available yet
Color Around 24 EBC
ABV Around 9.6 %
Grains: Pale Ale (6.5 EBC) 7.6 kg
Carapils (4 EBC) 2.0 kg
Roasted barley (1500 EBC) 0.15 kg
Hops: Goldings (3.5% AA) 130 g and boil for 90 min
Yeast: Wyeast #1056 American Ale and #1728 Scottish Ale
Water: Burgdorf + 0.1 g L-1 MgSO4 · 7 H2O+ 0.03 g L-1 NaCl
Rest: 1 step 90 min @ 70°C (158°F), mash out @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F)
Secondary Around 12 weeks @ 15°C (59°F) plus secret ingredients (see below)
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 1.8 vol for bottles
Maturation time Weeks to months

Wort is boiling

02/03/2012: Brew day. All went according to plan. In the evening there were 29 L (7.7 gal) and the original gravity was at 18.2°P. Gravity was a bit lower than expected and the volume a big higher than expected. It was cold outside (-12°C (1°F)). The higher volume might be due to the cold outside, the burner had some troubles to keep the wort boiling… But the cooling of the wort was really fast. Split the batch and one part was fermented with Wyeast’s #1056 American Ale, the other part with #1728 Scottish Ale.

The fermentation temperature should have been at around 18°C (64°F). But the cold outside cooled the cellar down to 15°C (59°F). So I had to take the fermenters upstairs to ensure the right temperature.

02/10/2012: Racked half of the beers in glass carboys for further maturation. The other half stays in the plastic fermenters and will be bottled soon. Gravities: 6.3°P for the #1056 and 5.5°P for the #1728. Added the secret ingredients: Soaked 55 g of medium toasted French oak chips in 55 mL of Bowmore Enigma Whiskey for nearly a month and all went into the beer fermented with the Scottish Ale strain. The other share (fermented with an American Ale strain), was left untouched. The maturation temperature is around 15°C (59°F).

02/15/2012: Unfortunately, the weather here was so cold that it was impossible to get any fresh fir needles at all. We went a different way instead and just added two tablespoons of molasses to the beer fermented with the American Ale strain.

03/03/2012: Bottled the other half’s of the shares from the plastic fermenters with sugar to a carbonation level of 1.8 vol carbon dioxide.