Skip to main content

Scottish 80 Shilling Revisited (v2.0)

Last year, I brewed my first Scottish 80 Shilling Ale, right before competition time. I thought it was a decent beer, though by far not the best I'd ever had, but it did poorly in competition.

This year, I am hoping to redeem myself with a new recipe.  I'm looking to hit all the BJCP flavor and aroma notes.  It should be a malt-forward beer with minimal esters. Hops should be present enough to balance the malt.  The malt itself can be rich, toasty, and caramelly.  Aroma should have low to medium maltiness, low to medium caramel, and some butterscotch is allowed. The best examples have a light fruitiness. They may have a low hop aroma, with English-style earthy, floral, citrus, and spice to it.  It should be clear, with a low to moderate creamy off-white head. The color should be pale copper to medium dark brown.


5 pounds Maris Otter Malt
2 ounces English Crystal Malt (60-75L)
2 ounces Roasted Barley
2 ounces Avangard Caramel Light Malt (8L)
2 ounces Melanoidin Malt
2 ounces (Quaker) Flaked Oats
0.3 ounces Horizon hops pellets @ 8.2% AA (60 min.)
0.5 ounces Bramling Cross hops pellets @ 6.5% AA (10 min.)
1 packet White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh Yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm (primarily to remove gluten)
3 gallons, plus 16 ounces, of Starting Water

According to the PicoBrew Recipe Crafter, the beer should have these characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.061 SG (14.4 Brix)
  • Final Gravity:  1.017 SG (8.5 Brix)
  • IBUs: 21
  • SRM: 18
  • Volume: 2.5 gallons
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • BU/GU: 0.33
After brewing, the actual measurements were:
  • Original Gravity: 1.059 SG (14.2 Brix)
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 SG (7.9 Brix)
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • Volume-Adjusted IBUs: 30
  • Volume: 2.0 gallons
At the end of brewing, the keg held less than 2 gallons of wort at 17 Brix (which with my refractometer adjusts to about 1.072 SG). I diluted this with distilled water to get down to the intended range, but overdid it slightly. I ended up with an original gravity of 14.2 Brix or 1.059 SG. That's close enough for now.

The Edinburgh yeast likes a fermentation temperature range of 65-70F, so I configured the InkBird controller to hold 65F for three days, then 70F for ten days to ensure it finishes out. Given the large fermenter, cold ambient basement temperature, and small recipe volume, I don't think I will need cooling on this one. If it does get a bit hot, that may contribute some esters that could enhance the beer if not overdone.

Post-Brew Notes

I'm concerned that the roasted barley in the recipe could add a roasty note to the beer that takes it outside the style definition, but we'll have to see.  The mix of Crystal/Caramel and Melanoidin malts should deliver some malt complexity.  Hopefully the 10-minute addition of Bramling Cross contributes good flavors and not too much bitterness.  I'm hopeful that the oats will deliver a bit of body and mouth feel, since it always seems like my beers in this gravity range are thinner or better-attenuated than they should be.

During the brew, the Zymatic did generate a fair amount of foam, enough that there was a significant puddle on top of the tray but no significant spillage.

03/27/2018:  It's roughly 24 hours after brewing and I'm seeing no activity in the airlock. Then again, there is a lot of headspace, so there may not be much airlock activity to see.

04/7/2018:  Despite a lack of visible airlock activity, the beer appears to have finished fermentation. I now need to treat it with gelatin and then get it bottled. Final gravity is registering as 7.9 Brix, which BeerSmith is calculating (after adjustment for my refractometer) to be 1.014 SG and an ABV of 5.7%.  In 3-4 days I plan to bottle with carbonation drops.

04/11/2018:  The beer is looking nicely clear, so I decided to bottle it.  I ended up with about 14.5 bottles (12-ounce variety) of this one.  I harvested the yeast for future re-use.  The aroma has a hint of butterscotch to it, and the flavor seems pretty good, too.  There is a nice malty backdrop with just enough hops to balance it, but it's not hop forward. The bottles were placed in a 76F "hot box" to condition.  In about ten days, I hope to try the first sample.

Bottle from which notes below were drawn

04/14/2018:  Having not paid attention to the bottling date for this beer, I opened a bottle today to check on it.  It wasn't very carbonated yet, which makes sense with only three days in the bottle.  Ignoring the relative lack of carbonation, here's how I'd score it if I were a BJCP judge:
  • Aroma (7/12):  Caramel, butterscotch, and malt come through. The fruity and hoppy aromas present in some 80 Shilling ales aren't visible here.
  • Appearance (3/3):  Assuming it carbonates well later, it has a nice coppery color with a beige head. It's fairly clear but not crystal clear.  It looks like I expect a good 80 Shilling to look.
  • Flavor (15/20):  It has a good combination of caramel and roasted malts, balanced against the hops, which provide a subtle fruity note to it as well. 
  • Mouthfeel (4/5):  It's medium bodied, with a really silky texture from the oats. In fact, the oats might make it seem to have a bit more body than it should.
  • Overall Impression (8/10):  In terms of appearance, flavor, and mouthfeel, this beer hits most of the notes we'd expect it to.  Aroma could be improved, perhaps with a more expressive yeast. Body could perhaps be a little thinner, by reducing the oats. Still, though, it's a good representation of the style.
  • Total Score:  37/50 (Very Good)
This beer is much better than last year's version, though I do see room for improvement. I'm thinking next time around I will dial back the oats and try using Lallemand ESB yeast, which worked well in an earlier version of my ESB. The yeast gave it the fruity note in the aroma that this beer lacks. I might also try putting a small amount of Bramling Cross at the end of the boil to give it a little of the aroma from that hop variety.

04/21/2018:  Now that the beer has finished carbonation and bottle conditioning, it's gotten much clearer.  It's now a brilliantly clear ruby brown.  Carbonation is still fairly low, which is in line with the style.  Butterscotch and fruit come through in the aroma. The flavor is malty, caramel, lightly toasty, with a touch of butterscotch and dark fruit. Finish is malty and lingering.

04/24/2018:  The more I think about this beer and look at it, the more I think this might be the perfect base for the Belgian Dubbel recipe I've been trying to create.  I'm going to have to try re-brewing it with Belgian yeast and hops, and see what I get.

05/06/2018: A few weeks after bottling, the beer has changed considerably. The buttery or butterscotch note I detected earlier is gone.  The malt comes through much clearer, but is balanced well against the hops bitterness.  It's very easy to drink. I'm not sure I'll change this one.

06//03/2018: The judging results are in from the Ohio State Fair. I am disappointed to say that the judges and I had radically different opinions of this beer. I self-scored the beer a 37. The official score from competition was 25.5.  Below are the individual scores and comments received from the first judge:

  • Aroma (5/12): Some maltiness. No hops. A little too estery.
  • Appearance (2/3): Lots of form upon pouring - off white. Pale copper color. Slight haze.
  • Flavor (9/20): Malty, not very complex. Could use a little more toasty/caramel/roast. Esters are pretty high.
  • Mouthfeel (3/5): Low body, carbonation is good, no warmth/creaminess.
  • Overall Impression (5/10): This is a malty beer, kind of one dimensional. Add a little more specialty malt. Try to bring esters down. Not sure if high foaming is over carbed or subtle infection.
  • Total: 24/50
The second judge's notes:
  • Aroma (6/12): Low maltiness, biscuit notes, fruitiness, spicy and caramel.
  • Appearance (3/3): Big head lasting ??. Off white creamy. Pale copper color.
  • Flavor (7/20): Low ? to no hops very unbalanced. Some grassyness in aftertaste.
  • Mouthfeel (4/5): Low to medium body. Gets thin soon. Creaminess. A little estery.
  • Overall Impression (7/10): Somewhat thin for style and almost overly malty, while ? and ? recipe.
  • Total: 27/50
So the beer's official score is about 10 points below what I thought of it, so I'm easier on my beer than the judges are, by far.  It's always disappointing to produce a beer you're really pleased with, only to have it roasted by the judges as in this example.

Last year's 80 Shilling attempt scored an average of 27, so this year's version (despite the fact that I felt it was much better) scored a couple of points lower.  Clearly I have more work to do in producing a Scottish ale.

Taking the judges' notes on board, I envision changing the recipe in the following ways for a future re-brewing:
  • Add some Aromatic malt to perhaps bring up the malt aroma. 
  • Add a late hop addition to bring a little bit of hops into the aroma.
  • Change the yeast or use temperature control to keep it fairly cool. I didn't use any temperature control on this batch and perhaps it got too hot during fermentation.
  • Increase the amount of oats to improve the body a little more.
  • Add more caramel malt
  • Allow more time to condition before bottling. I think the overcarbonation I've been seeing lately is a byproduct of perhaps not allowing fermentation to complete fully before bottling. I rule out infection because I'm very careful about sanitizing everything that comes in contact with the beer after the boil, even the thermometer... and there were no off flavors reported that could be attributed to infection.
  • Add some flaked maize, which is a flavor element I detect in Belhaven Scottish Ale that I don't get from this beer.
We'll see what happens when I get around to brewing v3.0.


Popular posts from this blog

Yellow Label Angel Yeast vs. Typical Brewing Yeast

I currently have my second batch of rice wine fermenting with the "magical" yellow-label Angel Yeast from China, and wanted to share some of the more unusual aspects of using it.  If you've never seen or used this yeast, I suspect you're not alone.  It ships in a 500 gram package that looks like this: What makes it "yellow label" is that yellow box you see in the upper left corner of the package.  This implies that it's yeast for distilling (though you do not need to have a still or distill the output to use it).  As I understand it, inside the package is a mix of yeast and other materials which will convert starch into sugar and directly ferment it, without the need for a traditional mash step.  This can radically shorten your brewing time.  For my most-recent batch of rice wine, I heated 3 gallons of water to 155F, poured it over 13+ pounds of uncooked rice straight out of the bag, let that soak for an hour, rehydrated some of this yeast in warm water,

2021 Batch 1 - Rice Wine made with Yellow Label Angel Yeast

I've become a big fan of the Still It channel on YouTube.  About a month ago, Jesse posted a video about how he made rice wine using nothing more than water, rice, and a purported "magic" yeast from China called Yellow Label Angel Yeast. Perhaps even more amazing was the fact that he was able to make the rice wine without gelatinizing or mashing the rice.  He shows three batches in the video.  One was made by cooking the rice before adding the yeast mixture. Another was made by adding uncooked rice to boiling water.  The last was made by adding uncooked rice to room temperature water.  All three fermented out to roughly the same amount of alcohol in about two weeks. He was amazed by this, as was I. I resolved to buy some of this magical yeast from and try it out. In the Still It video, the rice is ground up in the grain mill into smaller chunks to make it easier for the enzymes in the yellow label yeast to convert and ferment.  I'm changing this up s

Making Alton Brown's Immersion Cooker Fennel Cardamon Cordial

Alton Brown's "Good Eats" series is my favorite cooking show.  I love the way he explains the "why" and "how" of a recipe in detail, which helps you understand (if things don't go right) where you may have gone wrong.  In his episode on immersion cooking (also known as sous vide), he shows you how to make a cordial in an hour using an immersion cooker. It took me a while to locate all the ingredients here in Columbus.  I ended up getting the fennel and vodka at Giant Eagle. The cardamom seeds, pods, and anise stars came from Amazon.  The Fennel fronds and bulb came from Trader Joe's at Easton. Ingredients 32 ounces of 80-proof vodka 2 cups of fennel fronds 10 green cardamom pods 3 ounces granulated sugar 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 1 teaspoon black cardamom seeds 1 whole star anise Begin by loading your sous vide vessel with hot water and set your immersion cooker to 140F. While the cooker is getting up to that temperature, meas