Last year I started seeing articles about cellaring beer. Since this was new to me at the time and I looked it up. I’ll save you the trouble of googleing it yourself.
Basically wine enthusiasts age wine so beer geeks/snobs/connesuers/advocates decided what’s good for wine is good for beer. People would use their crawl spaces or a wooden cabinet in a closet to let these beers age for 12 months or longer (I have a Dark Lord Imperial Stout that was given as a wedding gift that says it could be aged for upto 20 years). I highly doubt it will last that long as my goal is 12 months (not sure why since I have nothing to compare it to). I think we should at least get a brand new one next year so we can compare them. Basically the idea is to let time change the flavor of the beer (in a good way; don’t worry). In fact, Grand Teton Brewing Co. decided to make it possible for everyone to have a cellared beer. They offered their 2009 Sheepeater Scotch Ale to everyone in 2010.
There was a label that came with bottle (attached with a rubber band to the top of the bottle) that said this beer was made in accordance to the Reinheitsgebot (Gesundheit?). No that wasn’t a sneeze. The Reinheitsgebot is a German protection law for beer. Some say beer protection. Some say brewer extortion. It was written in Bavaria in 1516 and stated that beer could only be brewed with hops, malted barley, water and yeast. That’s it. Technically, it originally didn’t even include yeast, since they didn’t know it existed. Once they figured it out, it was added. Nothing else was allowed. It was a way to gaurantee that every beer would be a good beer and that brewer’s had to pay the right amount of tax because they were using only the taxable ingredients (malt & hops). Beer laws almost always have more to do with The Man wanting a cut than protecting beer. Paranoia? Maybe.
Grand Teton released this series of beers as a way of showcasing each of the ingredients of the Reinheitsgebot. Sheepeater focuses on the malted barley. They had a previous one that focused on the hops called In Pursuit of Hoppiness (which was quite good).
The label also mentioned that Sheepeater had been kraeusened (Gesundheit again?). Kraeusened is actually a method of secondary fermentation. It’s done by blending newly fermenting beer with finished beer in the bottle. This allows it to continue to ferment while it’s bottled creating more of a kick and more flavor.
So there’s a little bit about how the beer was made. Now on to the review.
Weighing in at 7.5% ABV and 21 IBU this wonderful example of a Scotch ale is perfectly aged and ready to get you buzzed. The aroma was slightly scotch-like with a kind of chocolatey hint of smoke. The color of the head was a light tan creamy and the body a very dark red brown (copper brown would be a better color I suppose). The pour was semi-viscus looking but the taste was not. The taste was a malty-chocolatey- smokey smoothness (it was almost creamy feeling). It offered a pleasant warming on the way down (almost like real Scotch). As the beer warmed (or perhaps as I became accustomed to the taste) the smokiness became more apparent in both taste and smell. In fact I would say it was more smokey than chocolatey (my brain just kept thinking it was chocolatey). The more I drank the more it became sweet and smokey (quite pleasant). The best description I could come up to describe this beer would be a brown sugar, honey encrusted, smoked ham.
Remember this beer was kraeusened which means it was bottle conditioned to create a natural carbonation, a dense creamy head, and a fine layer of yeast on the bottom (be sure to swirl it a little for extra flavor). This is a very good beer. I could easily drink a lot of this which could be dangerous as it only comes in a 1 quart 1.8 oz bottle (yeah that’s larger than a pint/nine bottle). The other thing I love about the bottle is the rock art/cave paintings on the label. Really nice touch.
Here are some other Scotch Ales you might enjoy:
Wee Heavy – Belhaven Brewery Co. LTD.
Claymore Scotch Ale – Great Divide Brewing Co.
SkullSplitter – Orkney Brewery
Sam Adams Scotch Ale – Boston Beer Co.
No. 41 Kilt Lifter – Lb. Brewing Co. (seasonal)
Scotch Ale – McCoy’s Public House (seasonal?)