Wee Heavy-er Scotch Ale

wee heavyLet me start by saying that Asheville, NC, is Beer City USA.  The most breweries per capita of any US city, and about 22 in the area are brewing as we speak.  What a place!  French Broad Brewing Company (great name, but named after the French Broad River, not a can can dancer with an attitude) has been around since 1999, and there’s many good reasons that they have lasted so long.  One of those reasons is called Wee Heavy-er Scotch Ale.  This is a style I’ve really taken a shine to recently and this one does not disappoint.  Wee Heavy-er is a medium brown brew with a fleeting head that leaves a good deal of lace.  The bouquet is full of good notes:  Roasted caramel malt, grainy bead dough and roasted nuts.  There’s a good deal of sweetness in the flavor, but it’s not overdone.  At 7% ABV there is a touch of alcohol bite which accentuates the mild and ephemeral bitterness.  This one really makes the saliva thick, but it’s not a heavy, sticky beer, and is in fact quite drinkable.  Finish off with more toasty, toasty malt in the exhale and mild bittersweet sensation on the palette and you’ve just been well taken care of by the folks at French Broad Brewing Company.

85/100 wee heavy

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Gravedigger Billy

Image courtesy of Revolution Brewing.

Image courtesy of Revolution Brewing.

Pop the cap on Gravedigger Billy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels (Revoultion Brewing, Chicago, IL) and prepare for an OMG moment.  You are immediately bombarded with whiffs of caramel, sweetness and lots of boozy goodness, as if the redolence has been waiting to be released.  Pour Gravedigger Billy and behold a deep brown brew with a garnet cast and a tan head that breaks down into a swirl of atmospheric weather patterns.  The bouquet becomes more nuanced as Gravedigger Billy breathes, introducing some licorice and coconut to the nose.  The taste follows the bouquet well, finishing with some sweetness and a touch of earthy tartness, and no dry or bitter residuals.  Very smooth and creamy on the tongue.  Despite the 10.4% ABV there is no sign of alcohol astringency.  Gravedigger Billy is amazingly tasty, and a member of the Deep Wood Series of barrel-aged beers from Revolution, a series of beers that literally changed the way I approach beer drinking and appreciation. I can’t say enough good things about Gravedigger Billy.

Buy yourself a bomber and share it with someone you love!

97/100 Scotch Ale

Drink local, f*ck AB-Inbev.

Wee Heavy

Wee won't be buying this again.

Belhaven’s Wee Heavy was found on the bargain table at Lemon Tree in Downers Grove, reason enough to try it.  It is brown but clear, sporting a good 1/4″ light beige head with white lace, lots of it, washing the sides of the glass.  On the pour there is a bit of a hop presence, and almost a German macrolager bouquet, but in the glass for a minute the maltiness of the bouquet becomes the predominant smell, with a touch of smokiness to compliment it nicely.  There is a touch of caramel and butterscotch in the taste as well, and a noticeable dry finish, but I’m not sure I like the vibe.  I know it is well carbonated because I keep belching.  There’s something mysterious in the finish that I don’t quite like.  It’s a kind of sourness present in the dryness that I’m just not very fond of.  This is one that ends up down the sink.  Scottish Ale  40/100

Obligatory Fraternal Beer Review

90-shilling

The pride of Columbus...I wonder if it's appreciated there?

I have been remiss in not reviewing one of my favorite brews, especially since I’ve enjoyed it on occasion for 3 or 4 years.  And since very few good things come from Columbus, Ohio, I should have made a point of noting this exception sooner.  Columbus 90 Shilling Ale is a Scottish -style ale and is full of malty flavors and whiffs of smoke.  It’s a deep red-brown beer and it produces a foamy head that tends to last.  The evidence of a good amount of lacing supportsd the claim of 5 quality malts.  The hops is definitely secondary in 90 Shilling, and makes its presence known in a mild sharpness in the nose, which in tandem with the alcohol bite in the exhale pulls the whole thing together as a complex-yet-enjoyable, medium bodied ale.  It’s one of my favorite Scotch ales, along with Arcadia’s Scotch Ale and Three Floyds Robert the Bruce.  The bad thing about regional and brewpub brews like 90 Shilling is that it can’t be purchased in Chicago, but the good thing is that it never disappoints when I get a hold of some.

DISCLAIMER:  I honestly have nothing against Columbus, Ohio, it’s a lovely place w/ a German neighborhood, a topiary Isle of La Grand Jatte, good schools, a Giant Eagle, and a champion soccer team, the above was just my way of insulting my brother Jim who resides there.   He’s my connection, and brings the 90 Shilling when he comes to Chicago, for which I am truly grateful.