What a treat we have in store today. The first Scottish recipe, fresh from my archive harvest.
I suppose I'd best explain about all the shilling stuff, hadn't I? Back in the mists of time (the beginning of the 19th century) it wasn't uncommon for breweries in both England and Scotland to denote the strength of a particular beer by its wholesale price. Per hogshead (54 imperial gallons).
By 1850, most English breweries had swapped to the X-system, where the relative strength was indicated by the number of X's. But in Scotland the system persists, to some extent, to the present day. Of themselves, names like 60/- and 70/- tell you nothing about the type of beer, just its relative strength. What I'm saying is: don't assume a 60/- Ale is automatically a Mild and a 70/- Ale a Bitter.
Would you like to see details of Maclay's full range in 1909? Of course you do. It might help explain the shilling business. Note that there is both a Stout and a Mild called 54/-.
The gravities are also intriguing. Many of the beers are very watery for the period. There appears to have been quite a bit of regional variation in strengths. In England and Wales, the average OG in 1910 was 1052.30. In Scotland, it was just 1048.48. Whereas in Ireland it was a whopping 1064.78 (remember, Guinness was over 1070 at the time). I've not come across any London beer that was below 1040. Yet a good proportion of Maclay's output was. The 42/- Mild and 42/- PI look more like post-WW II beers than Edwardian ones.
Hope that's enough background. I contemplated mentioning the history of Maclay. But we don't want this post getting too long, do we? I'll save that for another day.
1909 Maclays 54/- PI
Lets move a little north of our past exploits and head to Scotland. Where beer counts as beer and whiskey counts as beer. Things that are low in gravity, high in taste and can be drank in massive quantities . . . unless the Scotch comes out . . . which is always does. Personally I think the Scottish ales are some of the beers that people talk the most about but know jack crap about. After spending a good amount of time in Scotland their lighter beers are some of my very favorite session beers of all. Most don't tastes like these experts say they are supposed to. So here is your first 'traditional' Scottish ale. Its low in alcohol but quite high in hops.
Grist and such
The first thing you'll notices is how little home grown malt they actually use. They mash tun is filled with grain from around the globe. Oregon, Tunisia and India to name a few. They use the traditional grits . . . yes, I'm saying these are traditional and equating them to flaked maize . . . also traditional. Its not really the fact to me that they use grits its that they treat them very much like the Americans of the same time with the side cereal mash. To boot they are nearly 21% of the grist! The amount of sugar they use is 12% which makes nearly 1/3 of this beers fermentables non-malt based. Amber malt. That's right. 2% amber malt. Seems to be the exact proportions that the experts deem that roasted barley was used. In all seriousness, there are VERY few Scottish ales I've seen brewed with roasted barley over ANY range of years. This amber, even at 2%, would definitely lend a toasty dryness.
So here is the kicker. The color. 12 EBC (5SRM). That is very light for anything especially a 'traditional' Scottish ale. I poured over the logs to see if there was any indication of anything 'dark' added. Crystal, dark sugar, etc. They actually have a place in the logs for 'colouring' with a big strike through it. So it is what it is I guess. This sucker was a lot more pale than I would have imagined . . . but data doesn't lie, right?
Nothing really fancy here. A straightforward high temp mash to get all those big dextrins into your beer . . . gonna need that with the amount of non-malt adjuncts. Also, its pretty wet for a single beer mash at 1.3qt/lb (2.7L/kg).
The log actually has 6 different entries for hops. Some the same but different years. It basically boils down to two different types, UK Kentish and the Oregon Cluster. The 24bu are a decent amount so you definitely will be able to taste the hops in this one.
Hmm . . . the more and more I look at this trucker the more and more it seems to be a traditional bitter! Tons of gypsum add along with a fair shake of Calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate.
No notes yet. However I can tell you that there will be a lot of corny character but not to dry as it only ferments down to 1.013. I'm telling you this seems more like Fullers 1910 AK than what would thought to be a Scottish ale.
News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 May 2018: Boozers, Brussels, Benin - It’s Saturday morning and time for us to round up links to all the writing about beer and pubs we’ve found stimulating, entertaining or engaging in the p...
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