What Is Scotch Ale?

More often than not, when ordering Scotch at the bar, it’s either neat or on the rocks. However, if you’re lucky, you may just come across the opportunity to order Scotch on tap — Scotch Ale, that is. So what exactly is the difference between regular ale and Scotch Ale?

Originating in Edinburgh in the 1800s, Scotch Ales, sometimes referred to as “Wee Heavy,” are super malty, rich ales, full of caramel flavors and aromas. The reason for this is that Scotch Ales go through a longer boil in the kettle, allowing the wort to caramelize. The result of this process is a dark brown, full-bodied ale, bursting with flavor and generally higher in alcohol. Roasted malty caramel flavors dominate in these boisterous brews, which usually clock in at a whopping 6 to 10 percent ABV. A slight bitterness may be present, though the strong caramel flavors from the long boil tend to dominate over noticeable bitterness. Unsurprisingly, some Scotch Ales may have a slightly peaty flavor to them. If you’re going to have more than one (which, trust us, you will), we recommend pairing with a nice plate of charcuterie and hard cheese. We’ll cheers to that.

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