Scotch ales have always been a bit of a mystery to me. My first experience was with Leinenkugel's Big Eddy, and I did not particularly enjoy it. But on a friend's recommendation I tried one on my Colorado trip back at the end of winter, and thoroughly enjoyed.
What is a Scotch ale, exactly? Well, per beer advocate:
Scotch Ales are strong ales, also known as "Wee Heavy." In the 19th century Scotland, they'd also be known as 160/-, a nomenclature based on the now obsolete shilling currency.
Scotch Ales traditionally go through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort. This produces a deep copper to brown in colored brew. Compared to Scottish Ales, they'll be sweeter and fuller-bodied, and of course higher in alcohol, with a much more pronounced malty caramel and roasted malt flavor. A low tea-like bitterness can be found in many examples.
So dark and heavy? Sounds right up my alley. And with an alcohol-by-volume typically between 6-10 percent? SIGN ME UP.
Nearly all of my experiences with Founders have been pretty positive so far, so in a recent trip to the Chimes, I decided to give their Dirty Bastard ale a go:
So good it's almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain't for the wee lads.
I mean, the name alone had my attention.
The dark, rich, roasted color really jumps out at you and then hammers you through the bouquet and on the front end of the taste. There's a real texture to it -- you can taste the malts, but it's still nice and smooth. There's also a sweetness to the backbone that's almost molasses-y kind of. I know the description talks about hop powder, but there isn't much spice to this beer, just a very smooth and even flavor throughout. And were it not for that 8.5 ABV number, you could maybe session the beer. It's rich, but not overly so as to be super filling. You can find this one in six-pack bottles or on draught, and I give it a strong four out of five stars.