Style Profile: Scottish Ale

Posted on March 4th, 2010

Scottish ales are wonderfully unique and deliciously dark, making them perfect for the colder months. Here’s a quick look at Scotland’s fine ale tradition.

Like many regional styles, the beers of Scotland are directly related to the geographic conditions of the area. The most distinctive qualities of Scottish beers are their big, malty flavors and lack of hops. This is directly related Scotland’s farmlands being largely inhospitable to growing hops. These plants generally require much warmer temperatures than what is available in Scotland. If Scottish brewers wanted hops for their beers they would have to import them, something that was for many years cost-prohibitive. At any rate, Scottish brewers brewed with what they had available and that was barley. There have been some who have recently questioned the historical accuracy of such claims, but the fact remains that most Scottish beers are big on malts with very little hops.

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Style Profile: Russian Imperial Stout

Posted on February 25th, 2010

Russian Imperial Stout is one of the heaviest styles of beer around, often ranging from 7 to 10% ABV. Much like Baltic porters it’s named not for who made it but who it was made for. Russian imperial stouts were first brewed in the 18th century by brewers in Burton, England to be shipped to the court of Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Catherine apparently became quite smitten by stouts during a visit to England and demanded some be sent back to her when she returned home; unfortunately the first few batches did not survive the long trip to Russia. Catherine demanded that the English find some way to get her beloved porter to her, and being empress, she got what she wanted. To accomplish this goal the Barclay Perkins brewery crafted a stout to survive the trek much sweeter and stronger than anything available in England at the time and a new style was born.

Today, many years after Catherine’s passing, Russian imperial stouts continue to be brewed not just in England, but around the world. In particular the style has caught on among bold and adventuresome American craft brewers, who see the style as an opportunity to flex their brewing muscle and a chance to brew the heaviest, sweetest beer they can. Due to the styles popularity craft brewers in the US the term ‘imperial’ has come to signify any style that’s especially strong in flavor, alcohol or both. The double, or ‘imperial’ IPA is perhaps the most common example of this phenomenon

This style shares much in common with other heavy stouts and porters, like the Baltic porter. They are both sweet and strong, with bold flavors of dark chocolate, roasted coffee and toffee. That being said, there are some key differences between the two styles. The imperial stout tends be much sweeter than the Baltic porter, and it is usually not nearly as dry. Still, don’t feel bad if you have trouble telling the two apart, they are similar.

The are numerous absolutely delicious versions of this style from many different brewers. Perhaps the best known in America is Old Rasputin, from North Coast brewing. Other notable examples include Storm King from Victory and Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues. Rogue, Stone, and Samuel Smith also have great takes on the style as well.

What’s your favorite version? Next time you try it, let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the #mybeer hashtag.

Style Profile: Milk Stout

Posted on February 16th, 2010

Milk stout was once thought to be extremely nutrious.

To those unfamiliar with the style, milk stout may sound pretty gross. Pouring milk into a glass of IPA seems like a terrible, terrible idea. Fortunately that’s not what milk stout is at all. It’s actually a tasty and delicious form of stout that is a great way to introduce someone to the world of heavier beers. Let’s take a look at what this style has to offer.

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Introduction to Lambics

Posted on February 4th, 2010

Even among serious beer drinkers, many don’t know much about lambics. They tend to be hard to find and expensive, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. Lambics are a delicious and often forgotten corner of the beer world. Here’s an introduction to this quirky and delicious type of beer.

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Style Profile: Baltic Porter

Posted on January 28th, 2010

The icy conditions of winter are perfect to enjoy a porter, stout or any other big, malty brew. These robust beers make great cold weather companions. Today, we’re going to look at Baltic porters, one of the most intense styles of beer.

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