Brew Day: Invisible Hand (Scotch Heavy)

After my club, the North Shore Brewers filled one of its two Samuel Adams Utopias barrels with a SMaSH Barleywine, the second barrel is ready to be filled with a new beer. We conducted a poll on the club’s message board where members chose between brewing a Wee Heavy or a Belgian Quad. Not requiring expensive candi sugar, the Wee Heavy won the vote going away.

To make brewing the beer as easy as possible we bought all of the ingredients together to distribute to all of the members participating in the brew. The one ingredient that would be tricky to purchase for 11 people is yeast. Most shops won’t have 11 packages of Scottish Ale yeast in stock. The planned Wee Heavy will also need a lot of yeast cells which would require everyone making large yeast starters.

My solution to both of these problems is to brew a starter beer. A starter beer is a term I came up with.  A starter beer is a lower gravity and ideally lightly hopped beer. The starter beer is low enough in gravity that it doesn’t need a yeast starter. When the starter beer is done fermenting there is ample yeast to harvest for future batches. By the way, you also have an extra batch of beer!

A Scotch Heavy is lightly hopped and contrary to its name isn’t heavy at all at under 4% ABV. On the BeerSmith Podcast, Ron Pattinson said most lower gravity Scotch Ales are essentially milds. The similarities are quite striking. Both are typically under 4.0% ABV and very lightly hopped.

Wanting to brew as easy of a batch as possible I threw together a basic extract recipe. I used Munton’s amber extracts and steeped a little chocolate malt for color and to dry out the finish. The landing in my apartment was the perfect temperature for the WLP028 Edinburgh Ale yeast.

I told everyone in the club brewing the next barrel beer that I would have the yeast ready to go for the club’s meeting on Janurary 26th at Notch. My plan is to rack the beer to a secondary fermenter and fill sanitized mason jars with the harvested slurry. 

Around two weeks after I get around to bottling the batch I will have two cases of sessionable ale. Sounds good to me! I think I will fill my one gallon polypin to share with the rest of the club. 

Click here for the recipe.
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