Friday, February 11, 2011


Scott Smith is making it work in Pittsburgh. His incredible Session Beer Series just keeps knocking out really interesting session strength beers. Witness the latest:
Session Ale #52 "Drayman's Heather Ale" is a long-boil Scottish ale that's been cool fermented, and has 3 separate heather additions. One for flavor, one for aroma, and another "dry-heathering" done in the fermenter. This beer is 4.2% abv, fitting nicely into our "Under 4.5%" Session Ale guidelines, that we follow... most of the time.
Some history: You may already know that hops don't grow well in the Scottish climate, so rather than pay the high prices for the hops imported from their "friends" in England, the Scottish crafted their beers to have very low hopping rates... certainly very little hops were used for such frivolities as flavor and aroma hop additions. At those prices, hops were just used for bitterness, and even then as few as possible. (Don't let Ron hear you say that...) Local plants were often used as a substitute bitterness source, and since Heather was in abundance, it seemed the likely choice. So we thought we'd give it a try here.
The long boil used to brew these beers develops more carmelization in the kettle which carries through to the glass.  And the cool fermentation temps give them a bright clear malt profile without all the esters you'll find in an English Ale.
The Scottish hopping theory aside (and I'll admit, I used to repeat it), this sounds like a truly interesting beer. Again. Cheers, Scott!

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