Brewer’s Notes: Wee Heavy

Big, malty, caramelly and on the sweeter side of the bitter/sweet teeter-totter – that’s how I’d describe Sir Brutus, an exemplar of the Scottish Ale style known as Wee Heavy.

Scottish ales are family of beers, albeit a small and pretty homogenous family. All are malty and typically infused with high caramel notes, with hops playing a minor role keeping all that malty sweetness honest. Sometimes you’ll see the strength of these beers denoted in “shillings” as in Odell Brewing’s 90 Shilling Ale, and historically the majority of these beers have been on the lighter side in terms of alcoholic strength. The strongest of these beer carries the moniker “Wee Heavy” which comes from the tradition of this very heavy and strong beer being served in small or ‘wee’ portions.

The malt bill on this batch was fairly simple, but hefty. A lot of base malt, a lighter and darker caramel malt, and a bit of munich malt to round it out and give some slightly chewy notes to the beer. The hopping was similarly simple: a single addition of Columbus about half way through the boil to add a balancing bitterness and subtle aromatic hoppy notes. The result is deep ruby-amber beer with intensely malty-caramelly notes, a beer that works well during the coldest days of winter.

This beer will be released in a couple of stages. We’ll put much of it into barrels that were recently emptied in a rum distillery in Tobago, and put those aside to take on some age and soak up some rummy-woody flavors, with a release at a later date. The rest we’ll put on draft straight away to enjoy while the cold weather lasts.

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