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Beer Here: Wisconsin Scottish Ale from Sand Creek Brewing
The thistle, with a wide round base atop a stem, is the traditional glass for the Scottish ale.
The thistle, with a wide round base atop a stem, is the traditional glass for the Scottish ale.
Credit:Robin Shepard

The Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls makes about a dozen beers under its own brands of Sand Creek, Pioneer Brewing, and Wisconsin Brewing. But it also contract brews for five other beer companies, including Furthermore Beer of Spring Green and BluCreek of Madison.

Over the last year-and-a-half, Sand Creek has introduced its Select Series of beers sold in four packs. Brewery co-owner Jim Wiesender explains: "These are special beers that we allow our brewmaster Todd Krueger to a little go crazy with, make something a little different, and show off." Their latest creation is Wisconsin Scottish Ale.

What is it? Wisconsin Scottish Ale from Sand Creek Brewing Company of Black River Falls.

Style: Scottish style beers tend to emphasize malt qualities and give less attention to hoppiness. In part, these styles reflect the use of brown malts and a brewing process that features longer boiling periods. Scottish ales commonly fall into four catetories: Light, Heavy, Export and the Scotch ale. Historically these distinctions carried labels of the shilling currency which reflected the price charged per barrel of beer in the 19th century. For example, 60 shillings was the rate for Light Scottish ales, 70 shillings for Heavy, 80 shillings for Export and above 90 shilling for Scotch ale and Wee Heavy.

Sand Creek brewmaster Krueger says he doesn't really like to fit his Wisconsin Scottish Ale into one of these categories, but its maltiness, color and alcohol contest are close to the traditional Scottish ale style.

Background: Krueger makes Wisconsin Scottish Ale with nine different types of malt. He also uses a combination of French and English yeast that he says creates a clove-like background to the beer that covers up the high alcohol content, which ends up at nearly 8.5% ABV. Additionally, some of the hops used to make Wisconsin Scottish Ale are grown locally near Barneveld.

"Our sales guy Mark Knobel and a friend came up with some hops and asked if we could use them, telling us to go knock ourselves out," says Wiesender. "The beer was dry hopped, where we added the fresh hops and let the beer sit on them for nearly two months," added Krueger. This gives the brew a firm caramel malty body with a hoppy dry finish. Knobel notes the hops were actually grown on his property, and his kids helped harvest the cones that went into this brew.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Malty.
  • Appearance: Clear, deep copper with a thick, soft tan head.
  • Texture: Medium bodied and round.
  • Taste: Smooth caramel malty body.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Malty with a slight dry hoppiness that builds.

Glassware: The thistle, with a wide round base atop a stem, is the traditional glass for the Scottish ale.

Pairs well with: Wisconsin Scottish Ale offers flavor that goes with hearty dishes. Some find the style a filling beer, but I think they make an excellent pizza brew. Shy away from spicy ones though, you'll want to find something that compliments the maltiness, like a cheeseburger or a basic veggie pizza loaded with feta cheese.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).

The Consensus: This beer has not been rated on Beer Advocate or Rate Beer.

The Verdict: Wisconsin Scottish Ale has firm caramel maltiness, the level you would hope for in a top shelf rendition. As Krueger intended, this is a little lighter than the heavier Scotch ale. I enjoyed this beer a lot for its firm caramel tones, smooth body and an unexpected yet pleasing slight hoppy dryness in the finish. It's not a hearty in-your-face maltiness, but a great beer worthy of a party.

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