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Scotch Ale vs Scottish Ale

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BrownAleMale, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. BrownAleMale

    BrownAleMale ¡Bad Trader! (655) Wisconsin Dec 14, 2011 ¡Bad Trader! Beer Trader

    Beer advocate has them as seperate catagories, but what exactly are the biggest differences? Ive had both styles and some scottish ales taste like scotch ale while others like Robert the Bruce do have a differnt taste. Im really confused on the exact differences. To me Wee Heavies have more of a difference to Scotch Ales. I usually consider a Wee Heavy a European version of a Scotch Ale. So inform me people! Scotch Ales are my go to beer right now and would really like to be educated more.
  2. I always thought Scotch ale was just another way of saying Scottish ale and that "Wee Heavy" is just a bigger or imperial version.

    Anyways, make sure to try Orkney Skull Splitter if you can get it. It's one of the beers that got me into craft beer. (I only originally bought it for the name). Also, founders Dirty bastard is solid and easy to find if you can get 3Floyds, and Backwoods bastard is amazing. Try Alesmith Wee Heavy as well if you can. I honestly wish Wee Heavies were a more popular style.
    MikeWard and Holmes698 like this.
  3. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader

    i've learned over the 6 years i've been on this site that most of the style categories here are to be taken with a heaping of salt. don't take them too seriously. most veterans from the UK itself will tell you the whole scottish sub-section of "beer styles" on this site isn't worth the electrons it's encoded in.
    Tut, RobertColianni and StuartCarter like this.
  4. Scottish Ale-simply brewed in Scotland. Same sorts of beers as English or Welsh. "Scottish Ale" is an American invention based on myths , misconceptions and misunderstandings.
    Scotch Ale is a distinct style, very similar to Burton Ale.
    Wee Heavy was a name used by Fowler's to describe their wee (small) bottles of Heavy. The actual brew was Twelve Guinea Ale.I am told that no brewing records exist for this style.
    Tut, StuartCarter and steveh like this.
  5. That's true Marquis but the Belgian/American invented 'Scotch Ale' is now a recognisable style. In may not have a long and well documented history but it exists in the same realm as French fries, or 'craft' beer. :D
    There's no need to go all David Hume on this topic.
  6. Scotch Ale is an ancient and well documented style still brewed - see Younger's No 3. Usually simply sold as "Strong Ale" in Scotland and Scotch Ale elsewhere.
    Ron Pattinson has some recipes for this style.Notice the massive hopping :)
    corbmoster likes this.
  7. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Champion (780) Pennsylvania Dec 9, 2008 Subscriber

    I've heard of Scotch ales being brewed with a decoction mash. Is that a necessity for the style?
  8. No offence but the 19th century isn't really "ancient"
    corbmoster and fujindemon74 like this.
  9. Dennoman

    Dennoman Advocate (525) Belgium Aug 20, 2011

    Here's the Scottish/Irish ale section of the BJCP Style Guidelines. Notice these are outdated as of 2008, but they give a good indication I think:


    Scotch is only listed as Strong Scotch Ale, and as synonimous to Wee Heavy. I guess that means a Scotch Ale is supposed to be higher alcohol than a regular Scottish Ale. Scottish Ales are comparable to English bitters, but they're maltier, less hoppy and use a longer, cooler fermentation. They also seem to distinguish themselves through the use of exclusively Scottish ingredients.

    A common theme in the Scotch ales also seems to be the kettle caramelization, which gives it its distinct sweet and roasty caramel flavor.

    The whole "Scottish Ale = brewed in Scotland" is not necessarily true, since there are no trademarks involved if I'm not mistaken. I think you can brew your own Scottish Ale if you stick to the guidelines somewhat and make a slightly maltier English bitter.

    I'd go as far as to say that, as per the guidelines, every Scotch Ale is a Scottish Ale, but not vice versa.
  10. Derranged

    Derranged Advocate (555) New York Mar 7, 2010

    People will say that some of the styles on this site are redundant. A friend of mine who is obsessed with German beers claims that the term "Dunkelweizen" was completely made up by this site and is not a recognized style in Germany. I of course have no idea.

    Or at the very least, with some styles the differences are so small that they technically could fall in the same category. Just a thought.
  11. I just think that's a good term for a dark wheat beer, for obvious reasons. A different way of saying Weissbier-Dunkel, which I assume is recognised in Germany as it's written on 3 bottles in my fridge.
  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Champion (810) New Jersey Aug 10, 2005 Subscriber

    I don't know who made it up, but it predated this website.

    "Darker, copper-red or brown versions (of Weizenbiers) are also made. They are sometimes identified as Dunkelweizen." --- M. Jackson, The New World Guide to Beer, 1988. ​

    Jackson also mentions a beer labeled "Dunkelweizen" brewed in the US by WI's Hibernia Brewing Co. (formerly Walters) in the book.
    RyanMM and steveh like this.
  13. It isn't a matter of trademarking per se, it's a matter of misrepresentation.
    Scottish should really mean " from Scotland" or if you relax a bit "as from Scotland or in the style of" yet these listings quite simply don't do justice to the excellent beers from that country. On the whole they have nothing in common with what you would get if you visited.
    There is no reason to believe that they are maltier, less hoppy and fermented cooler than English beers. Brewing records simply don't support this myth.As for exclusively Scottish ingredients, until relatively recently they were brewed entirely from English malt and imported hops.They are still importing the hops by the way.
  14. Ahhh another machination on the semantics of beer. That's why I joined this site. Well that, and the whole beer is awesome thing!
  15. If you use the term Scottish Ale to describe beers which have no connection with Scotland,what word can you use to define ales actually brewed there?
  16. Although people here in Scotland, and the rest of the UK in general, would disagree with your last two paragraphs I think many people in the States and other places would concur. But its funny, Scotch Ale 'Wee Heavy' was always virtually impossible to find in Scotland and, given recent changing drinking and brewing patterns, the stereotypical lighter weight style 'Scottish Ale' may be soon going that way as well. If it ever existed in the first place. There has been some significant changes in Scotland since 2005.
  17. Porkhustle

    Porkhustle Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2012

    Comparable in that they are both beers, but that's where it ends.

    That bit is a piss poor guideline
  18. steveh

    steveh Champion (970) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    You can tell your friend that I was at a small festival in Würzburg in the early 90s where I approached the beer servers to inquire what was available. In no uncertain terms they told me Dunkelweizen was one of the choices. I drank it all afternoon.
  19. Derranged

    Derranged Advocate (555) New York Mar 7, 2010

    Perhaps I will.
  20. There are quite a few styles that have been marketed as Scotch Ale, so all are legitimate.

    19th century Scotch Ale was pale and very strong with original gravities often over 1.100.

    The term Scotch Ale became essentially a marketing term. William Younger of Edinburgh sold his No 1 Ale as Strong Ale in Scotland, Scotch Ale in England and Barley Wine in Ireland.

    Belgium became an important market for Scotch Ale, with Belgian bottlers commissioning brews from Scottish (and English) breweries. This is the best known style today.

    But not all Scotch Ales are strong. There were also weaker beers like Younger’s No 3 which by the 1970s had dropped to slightly over 4%, and the even weaker session-strength “Scotch“ ale sold in the North-East of England.

    Wee Heavy is Strong Scotch Ale packaged in a small (wee) bottle, preferably 7oz or half a pint and certainly no more than 330ml (sorry Alesmith). The name comes from Fowler’s Wee Heavy, the brand the marketing people applied to the brewery’s Twelve Guinea Ale in the 1960s after it was taken over by a bigger conglomerate.

    Scottish Ale is an American style based on 1980s’ homebrewers’ ideas of what Scottish beer was like, embroidered with myth and made-up nonsense.
    jmw likes this.
  21. Derranged’s friend is sort-of right. It is definitely a style, but it has many names. I would venture to say it is more often labelled "Hefeweizen dunkel", "Weißbier dunkel", "Dunkles Hefeweißbier" or some othr such variant than Dunkelweizen.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Champion (810) New Jersey Aug 10, 2005 Subscriber

    Oh, I agree that the style goes by different names (even the Jackson quote from '88 says "They are sometimes identified as...") but Derranged's friend claimed specifically that the term was "completely made up by..." BeerAdvocate (founded 1996).

    I'd say that ranks as something less than "sort-of right" ;)
    gpawned and GeddyLeeRocks like this.
  23. The Oxford Companion to Beer( a worthwhile purchase) has an excellent article about wee heavy, scottish ale, and scotch ale.
  24. Highbrow

    Highbrow Advocate (665) California Jan 7, 2011 Beer Trader

    he say she say. not another argument over meaningless terminology. :eek: who seriously cares about this to the degree that they will or won't drink a beer based on whether it says: Scotch versus Scottish??? does 1 of the terms inherently represent something across the board better than the other?

    it's just beer. drink it, or don't. my POV but BA is a rough guide (good 1 mind you) to a hobby shared by many. if one quits trying to equate the site to some sort of Biblical status, maybe it'll become clear that the information shared is based on opinions & conclusions drawn by regular mortal men & women? it isn't like the definitions, rating system & other features/categories on the site were etched in stone & passed to Moses. kinda ironic that 1 of the most reoccurring... aka ((REDUNDANT)) arguments is about site/style redundancy.
    CASK1 likes this.
  25. Chaz likes this.
  26. Scottish people don't use the term Scotch, unless they are referring to blended whiskey. Or at least that's what my parents have always insisted, and I eat Haggis on St. Andrew's day and was married in a clan kilt.
  27. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Advocate (630) Florida May 29, 2011 Beer Trader

    Scottish Light 60/-
    Vital Statistics: OG: 1.030 – 1.035
    IBUs: 10 – 20 FG: 1.010 – 1.013
    SRM: 9 – 17 ABV: 2.5 – 3.2%
    Commercial Examples: Belhaven 60/-, McEwan’s 60/-, Maclay
    60/- Light (all are cask-only products not exported to the US)

    Scottish Heavy 70/-
    Vital Statistics: OG: 1.035 – 1.040
    IBUs: 10 – 25 FG: 1.010 – 1.015
    SRM: 9 – 17 ABV: 3.2 – 3.9%

    Scottish Export 80/-
    Vital Statistics: OG: 1.040 – 1.054
    IBUs: 15 – 30 FG: 1.010 – 1.016
    SRM: 9 – 17 ABV: 3.9 – 5.0%
    Commercial Examples: Orkney Dark Island, Caledonian 80/-
    Export Ale, Belhaven 80/- (Belhaven Scottish Ale in the US),
    Southampton 80 Shilling, Broughton Exciseman’s 80/-, Belhaven
    St. Andrews Ale, McEwan's Export (IPA), Inveralmond Lia Fail,
    Broughton Merlin’s Ale, Arran Dark

    Strong Scotch Ale
    Vital Statistics: OG: 1.070 – 1.130
    IBUs: 17 – 35 FG: 1.018 – 1.056
    SRM: 14 – 25 ABV: 6.5 – 10%
    Commercial Examples: Traquair House Ale, Belhaven Wee
    Heavy, McEwan's Scotch Ale, Founders Dirty Bastard,
    MacAndrew's Scotch Ale, AleSmith Wee Heavy, Orkney Skull
    Splitter, Inveralmond Black Friar, Broughton Old Jock, Gordon
    Highland Scotch Ale, Dragonmead Under the Kilt

    Just strength really. You literally could make a Strong Scotch Ale with the same malt bill, hop varietals, and yeast as a 60/- ... just more of it and a longer boil.
  28. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Advocate (630) Florida May 29, 2011 Beer Trader

    God, I'm jealous!
  29. So can someone tell me what i was drinking in my callow youth in the North East?

    Lorimers Best Scotch
    McEwans Best Scotch
    Bass Best Scotch

    and 'shite' isnt the answer.
  30. I am frequently described as ancient and I don't date back to the 19th century!
    Onenote81 likes this.
  31. No it doesn’t. The article is almost complete garbage. Possibly the worst article in the entire book.
  32. Clearly written by someone who has never even seen a pint of Scottish Light, which is as dark as porter (if you can find it).
  33. Can you be more specific about this? Is the Belhaven Scottish ale truly a Scottish ale? Yes? The article clarifies this. The article describes the difference between Scotch ale and Scottish ale- newer styles to Americans.
  34. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Advocate (630) Florida May 29, 2011 Beer Trader

    Those stats are from BJCP guidelines. The 60/-, 70/-, and 80/- are all accepted as 9 - 17 SRM, which is a broad range of color. See the following; http://www.alereview.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/SRM-Beer-Color-Chart.jpg

    Doesn't necessarily mean that it can't be a Scottish ale if the SRM, IBU, OG, FG, etc.. is not as described. Just the parameters that is generally accepted.
  35. Don't take the BJCP as anything more than an aid to homebrewers entering BJCP competitions.As a guide to Scottish brewing it's worse than useless.
  36. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Advocate (630) Florida May 29, 2011 Beer Trader

    Marquis, what recommendations have you on guide to Scottish brewing? I homebrew and love English & Scottish styles. I understand BJCP as a rough guide to aim for in beer specs, but I'd be interested in delving further in. Cheers.
  37. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (620) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004 Subscriber

    I'm starting to think that in the 1950's most Scottish breweries only really brewed one beer. Weird bastards.
    Chaz likes this.
  38. For a guide on British brewing look at Amber, Gold and Black by Martyn Cornell. This book is thoroughly researched by a respected beer historian.Look at Martyn's blog as well. http://zythophile.wordpress.com/
    Also well worth going through is patto1ro's blog , again properly researched largely through contemporary brewing records. http://barclayperkins.blogspot.co.uk/
    Point is that Scottish brewing is just the same as English and Welsh , only the names have been changed to protect the innocent! There is of course wide variation but that's true anywhere.There is no "Scottish" style at all in Scotland.
  39. Actually I'm from Scotland and we don't really use the word scotch at all, (apart from maybe scotch eggs) and certainly not for any kind of whisky.

    I haven't seen any haggis in America yet though, apart from the tinned stuff which is terrible.
    gpawned likes this.