Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Great Scott(ish Ales)!
November 2012
Volume 1 Issue 3
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,
October has come and gone and winter is creeping nearer. So while autumn's days may be running low, there's no shortage of great beers. In this issue we'll feature Scottish Ales and Cider. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that ciders aren't technically beers, but I would be neglecting my duty as your fermented beverage guide if I didn't direct you toward deliciousness, right? Finally, we end with a new segment I have dubbed "Substitute Teacher." It may be getting cold outside, but these drinks will warm you up!
Dan Downes
Scottish Ales
Substitute Teacher
With varying degrees of strength, Scottish Ales were once broken down based on the now obsolete shilling currency and used to distinguish each subset. They went 60/- (light), 70/- (heavy), 80/- (export). There was a further classification known as a "Wee Heavy" which applied to anything over 100 shillings and is the strongest in the style. Scottish ales are traditionally identified by their rich malt characteristics. They achieve this flavor due to the extended boil the wort undergoes. This produces a deep brown color and a rich mouthfeel. Modern iterations have smoked or peated malts, but these are not traditional to the style. They also have little to no hop presence.


So why no hops? Well, there are a couple reasons for that. First and foremost, the soil and growing conditions in Scotland are simply not conducive to growing hops. This meant they had to import hops from neighboring England. Not only was this expensive, it did not sit well with strong Scottish nationalism. Secondly, when England and Scotland were formally united with the Acts of Union in 1707, Scotland was excluded from the excise tax on malt which provided an even greater incentive to focus on malt heavy beers. 


While this may cause hopheads to recoil in terror, I assure you there is nothing to worry about. What they may lack hops, they certainly don't lack flavor. In fact, Scottish ales are the perfect accompaniment for spicy dishes where the richness helps cut through the heat. As a final note, try enjoying Scottish Ales at a slightly warmer temperature (45-50°F) to bring out all the complexities.  

Beers that would make William Wallace proud
Scottish Ales
Central Waters Sláinte


Sláinte, the newest offering from Central Waters in Amherst, is commonly used as a drinking toast in Ireland and Scotland. On the nose you'll get chocolate, caramel and a whiff of peat which seamlessly transfer to the palate. Sweet flavors of brown sugar and dark toffee run throughout. The carbonation helps cut through the sweetness and delivers a nice, creamy mouthfeel. The roasted malt flavors also deliver a breadiness that will remind you of pumpernickel. The smokiness, while subtle, does add another layer of complexity to this stellar brew. Sláinte literally translates to "health," so that must mean that there's nothing wrong with taking down an entire six pack.

Oskar Blues Old Chub
Once again proving that excellent beer comes from a can, Oskar Blues delivers with this staff favorite. Pouring the color of Coke Classic, the smells of cocoa and coffee come through. The addition of beechwood smoked malt in the bill gives a slight whisky aroma, too. Fruity esters make themselves readily apparent in this beer. Esters (a fermentation byproduct) exert themselves in a variety of ways depending on the yeast strain used. In the case of Old Chub, there are strong plumb and fig notes. Accompanied by a hint of vanilla, the full bodied and smooth texture make this 8% a dangerous one.
Dark Horse Scotty Karate

Coming from Marshall, Michigan, Scotty Karate is named after a local
music legend. It's certainly hard for a beer to have as much personality as a one man band playing, "an amazing slurry combining honky tonk and punk," but Dark Horse succeeds. There will be a carmel apple aroma with a touch of raisins. The malt delivers the caramel and sweet flavors signature of the style along with a slight roasted coffee impression. There are also lots of strong chocolate notes throughout. Medium-low bodied, it ends with an oaky finish and a touch of alcohol. Pair this with smoked salmon and enjoy both as you check out Scotty's highlight video (including his apperance on the show ElimiDate) here. 
Smuttynose Scotch Ale

Picture via smuttynose.com
Lacking a witty name, Smuttynose gets right to the point with this beer. In terms of body and intensity, it is a bit more toned down than those previously mentioned, but that doesn't mean that it's not full of flavor, though. The smoked malt gives the essence of leather and tobacco along with pleasant herbal notes of cinnamon and clove. Again, the malt provides the flavors of caramel and dark fruit, but it also had a breadiness that reminded me of gingrbread cookies. Less sweet than the others, there is a slight bitter finish from the hops. The famous Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote, "The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry," but that certainly doesn't apply to this beer!

Sweet, malty beers not your thing? Don't worry, with the apple harvest all finished, November is the perfect time to have a cider. The fastest growing segment in the adult beverage world, the Midwest has actually experienced the largest growth of cider sales in the country. While choosing the proper apple varietals and blends for cider is difficult, the process itself is quite simple. After apples are picked from the orchard, they undergo go a process known as scratting where the they are ground into pulp. Next, the pulp is then pressed unitl all the juices have been extracted. Yeast is then pitched into the juice where it feeds on the sugars and begins fermentation. The fermentation process gives off both carbon dioxide and alcohol. That's how you make adult apple juice!

J.K. Solstice

The newest brand in the Ray's family of ciders comes from Michigan, andSolstice is their winter seasonal. Technically a scrumpy, this cider pours a hazy golden color. Spiced with cinnamon, vanilla and a touch of maple syrup, this cider will make you think of apple pie in a bottle! Slightly sweet and 100% organic, this cider is perfect on its own but I also enjoy heating it up on cold nights for a hot apple cider with a kick!
Woodchuck Winter

A woodchuck in winter

The makers of Woodchuck cider (Vermont Hard Cider Co.) are the largest selling cider company in The United States. Don't be scared off, the big boys can still do some great things. The bottle describes Winter as, "A perfect culmination of premium French and American Oak," due to the its oak aging.  A bit more tart than others in the style, the flavors of granny smith apples are strong. It pours a champagne-like color with clear effervescence. Make a riff on the classic Stonewall cocktail by adding a little light rum to give it an extra punch.  

Crispin The Saint
Made with a Trappist beer yeast strain and organic maple syrup, this cider is unlike any other out there. An unfiltered cider, it pours cloudy and has a powerful apple aroma. The Honeycrisp apples used give it a great sweetness that finishes with a bit of spiciness characteristic of the Belgian yeast strain. The maple syrup balances the tartness of the apples and will linger on your palate at the end.


Substitute Teacher
If you like... Gumballhead
Try...Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin'

Three Floyd's Gumballhead is one of our most requested beers. Due to limited distribution, though, it's not always around. Well, have no fear! Much like Gumballhead, Little Sumpin' Sumpin' (henceforth LSS) has that smoothness and brightness that we like from a wheat beer, but its hop levels set it apart. The light malt profile gives LSS a little sweetness, but this is about the juicy hop profile. Heavy on the three C hops (citra, centennial and cascade) there are deep aromas of grapefruit, citrus, apricot and pine. Taste wise, you can pick up honey and tropical fruit like pineapple with a lingering hop bitterness. Enjoy this with creamy, rich cheeses or a good ol' fashioned hamburger!
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

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