Cats Meow 3
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Scotch Ale

Classification: Scotch ale, extract

Source: Jeff McNally (, HBD Issue #1976, 3/5/96

This recipe was formulated after looking at many scotch ale recipes (cat's meow, Noonan's book, HBD, etc.) and posting some questions to the digest (#1833). I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to this great forum we call the HBD, and in particular those who have helped answer questions that I have had.

I've sent this recipe to several people via private email in the past and one of these people (Gabrielle Palmer ) recently posted a question about his version of this brew (in #1960) that has prompted the recent "scottish ale/hoppiness" thread.

Since I have recently entered this brew in a homebrew competition, I've also included the judges comments. BTW, this took first place in the combined english and scottish ale category at the war-of-the-worts homebrew competition sponsored by the Keystone Hops (1/20/96).



- mashed all the grains in 4 qts of 156F water for 1 hr
- sparged with 4 qts of 170F water
- SG of runnings: 1.036 in ~7 qts
- added LME, made volume up to 3 gal, boiled for 1 hr
- chilled with immersion chiller, aerated, made volume up to 5 gal, aerated some more, pitched 1 qt starter
- fermented at 65 - 68F

I use a grain bag from Williams Brewing (800-759-6025) that is made to fit inside a bucket type lauter tun. It also fits perfectly inside my 3 gallon SS kettle.

To do the mash on my stove, I just heat up the mash water to ~165F (in my kettle) then drop in the grain bag containing the crushed grains. Stir real well, let it sit for a minute, then check the temp. If its to low (which it will be) either add small amounts of boiling water (1 cup at a time, stir, let it sit for a minute, then check the temp) or add heat with the stove burner on medium heat while gently stirring constantly. After you hit the mash temp, cover it up and let it sit for 1 hour. At the end of the 1 hour, I lift the grain bag just above the surface of the wort and sparge by pouring the sparge water over the grains gently with a measuring cup.

As you can see, my mash setup/technique is pretty simple and does'nt require a lot of extra equipment. I'm not trying to get the max possible extraction from the grains, only the flavor/body that was missing before I started doing these partial mashes.

Since this setup/technique produces wort that is rather cloudy with grain particles, I've often wondered if it will lead to some astringency in the finished beer. Some of the judges comments (see below) lead me to believe that this does happen. Kirk Fleming asked about this in HBD #1968. Does this stovetop mashing sound similar to what you do?


Tasting Notes and Judges Comments:

When I put together this recipe (my first Scotch ale), I was trying to clone St. Andrews Scotch Ale (Belhaven Brewery, Edinburg). It ended up with a little to much smokey flavor and not quite enough hop bitterness. In general it came out almost identical to Sam Adams Scotch Ale (Boston Beer Co., Boston).

Here are the judges comments. I've separated the two judge's comments with a slash (/):

bouquet/aroma:  pleasant malt, low hop / malt, no hop OK
appearance:  good clarity, head retention, overcarbonated / slight reddish
             brown, good clarity, head good
flavor:  nice for scottish, light smoke, pleasant sweetness, just slightly
         overcarbonated for scottish ex, lingering aftertaste slight
         astringent / malt OK, low hops OK, condition OK but would lower
         a little to make smooth, needs more malt sweetness & caramel, to
         dry for style, slight phenolic or solvent
body:  good body / carb level thins a bit
drinkability & overall impression:  lingering aftertaste from other than
         malt or hops / it is drinkable but needs fullness (more malt or
         less atten yeast)

scores:  34 / 30