Nick Carr on September 24, 2015 3 Comments As of May 2015, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) has renamed the Scottish 60/- beer style, sometimes referred to as Scottish 60 Shilling, to just “Scottish Light.” This is an important update to make note of for anybody that loves this type of beer style. History of Scottish Light Brewing has been going on in Scotland a long time. Evidence has been found in two locations in the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland, both sites (Skara Brae and Balfarg, Fife) show brewing evidence dated to at least the 3rd millennium BC. These clues to Neolithic brewing include a 30 gallon vessel thought to be for fermentation purposes, a residue of barley lipids, and pollen from meadowsweet. Further evidence found on the Island of Rum point to the use of heather, meadowsweet, and royal fern in brewing. Interestingly experiments with the use of meadowsweet in brewing show that the plant can extend the shelf life of beer for several weeks. The use of heather in brewing has a long and legendary tradition with the Picts, Irish, Norse, and English who all brewed with it before the use of hops. Even after hops became common in Europe in the early 11th century, the British held to unhoped brewing for another 400 years. From these early roots the Scottish ale tree grew through several of England’s love affairs with different beer styles including stouts/porters, pales, and IPAs. Edinburgh, one of the three major Scottish brewing centers of the period (the other two being Glasgow and Alloa) found a particularly good match in the IPA. Edinburgh’s water is much the same as Burton upon Trent and well suited to the highly hopped pale ales. So, why is it that the recognized beers of Scotland are all low hopped and malt forward? This is a bit of a mystery. Obviously at one time they had a thriving production of stouts, porters, and pales. The cooler climate may be a partial answer. It limited any kind of local commercial breweries from growing their own hops, thus creating the need — and added cost — of importation. Maybe brewers could only afford to use lots of hops if some of the cost of importing was defrayed through the ability to export these beers. The climate also created the possibility of cooler fermentation. There is much argument over this possibility, but it seems a probable development due to the climate and the fact that the Scottish ales are so yeast neutral (something imparted by cooler longer fermentations). And then there’s the simple fact cooler weather calls to the desire for malt heavy beer. Also Scotland had good land which yielded high quality cereal grain crops, particularly barley, oats, and wheat. It may have been a simple desire to highlight this native crop which kept them from extensive use of the hop. Another brewing practice that helped distinguish the Scottish ale from its British cousins was a higher mash temperature and early use of sparging. A slightly higher mashing temperature would have made a more dextrinous wort, which speaks to the fuller body of these ales. The British were still doing “part-igyle” mashing (repeated mashing and draining) to produce multiple brews at decreasing strengths, while the Scots were sparging. Sparging would have increased boiling times creating the caramelization that has become synonymous with the style. The 60 Shilling (60/-) ale is the lightest of the Scottish ales. The Shilling moniker came about in the 19th century and indicates the tax rate which increased with alcohol content. Thus, the alcohol content of 60 Shilling (Light) being 2.5 to 3.2%; 70 Shilling (heavy) being 3.2 to 3.9%; and 80 Shilling (export) being 3.9 to 6.0%. The Scotch ale or Wee Heavy starts at around 6.5% alcohol would be considered a 100 Shilling to 160 Shilling ale depending on alcohol. Style Characteristics Quick Characteristics Color Range: 17–22 SRM Original Gravity: 1.030–1.035 Final Gravity: 1.010–1.013 IBU Range: 10–20 ABV Range: 2.5–3.2% Serving Temp: 50°-55° Aroma: Malts will be low to medium with notes of caramel & butterscotch; Low English hoppiness, fruitiness, and diacetyl; Peat smoke from the water is possible. Flavor: Malty. Sweetness ranges from caramel to toastiness; Low diactyl; Low to moderate hoppy bitterness; Little to no hop flavors, if present should be English hops; Rich & grainy finish. Appearance: Ranges from pale amber to dark copper; Head should be creamy and off-white; Clarity should be suburb. Mouthfeel: Medium-Low to Medium Carbonation: Low to Moderate Food Pairings: Creamy spinach salads; Roasted lemon-pepper chicken; Steamed veggies; BBQ turkey; Meatloaf The guidelines for the Scottish Light beer style are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The below details are a summary of what a Scottish Light should represent. Appearance: Long cool fermentations create exceptional clarity in this beer. A low to medium creamy head of off-white to tannish white sits atop a liquid the color of drying amber or tarnished copper. Aroma: Low to moderate malty sweetness greets the nose with potential kettle caramelized highlights. Possible low hop aroma, fruitiness, and diacetyl. Possible, but not necessary, low to moderate peaty aroma, giving the beer an earthy, smoky quality. However, the “smokey” peat aroma should only be present from the source water. Mouthfeel: Low to medium carbonation pushes a med-low to medium body, which can appear somewhat creamy. The use of roasted barley will often give a dry quality. Taste: Malty, with sweetness usually carrying flashes of caramelization. A low diacetyl component is also sometimes present; giving slight impression of buttered caramel. A balancing low to moderate hop bitterness evens things up, but the scales are always (if only slightly) malt heavy. Hop flavor will be low to absent; if present it should represent the traditional English hop flavors. The use of unmalted roasted barley gives the finish a grainy drying character. Peat smoke in the flavor is not appropriate in the Scottish Light. Style Comparison: In regard to its characteristics, the Scottish Light style is oftentimes compared to a Wee Heavy, but not as big and bold. The color, however, has a closer resemblance to a dark mild. Examples of Scottish Light Unfortunately, there are no true 60 Shilling examples available in America. There are plenty of Scottish Ales, but no commercial, well-known ones worth mentioning that fit this particular beer style profile. So, it’s up to us, the home brewers, to create our own examples. However, if you’re going to be visiting Scotland or England in the near future, you should look for the following three examples that the BJCP considers a great example of the Scottish Light style. Belhaven 60/- McEwan’s 60/- Maclay 60/- Light The above three examples of Scottish Light are all cask-conditioned and not exported to the US at the time of this writing. How to Brew a Scottish Light Click Here to View the Scottish 60 Schilling Ingredient Kit from MoreBeer Available Scottish / 60 Shilling Kits: Scottish 60 Shilling Extract Kit from MoreBeer Scottish Ale Extract Ingredient Kit from BSG Handcraft Scottish ales are defined by maltiness and little else. The secret to brewing a successful Scottish Light is following: a simple malt bill, a light hand on the hops, kettle caramelization, pitch a large amount of healthy yeast, and a fermentation below 60°F. The Grain Bill: The base malt for a Scottish Light (60 Shilling), and all Scottish ales for that matter, will be a pale ale malt or high quality pale or amber extract. If you want to go the simplest route there are ingredient kits available that make nice Scottish Light ales. But even if you’re going all-grain, the recipe is a simple one. Traditionally, it seems the base malt would have been one or two shades darker than most of today’s pale malts, in the range of 3 to 4 oSRM, unfortunately it is hard to find a base malt in this color range. Some companies still make a mild malt. It isn’t easy to find, but might fit the bill if you want to be really authentic. Don’t worry too much about it, though. A small percentage of roasted grains, added to a base of pale malt will do just fine. A good English pale malt, or if you can get your hands on it a Scottish pale malt is best for the base. I know Simpsons malt sells a Scottish pale under their Golden Promise line. Your recipe can be comprised of up to 98% base malt. Add 2% roast barley and you have a Scottish Light / 60 Shilling recipe. Now if you want to complicate things you could cut the base malt down to around 90% and build the other 10% out of Crystal, Chocolate, Black, Roast Barley, and wheat. How these are combined and which are used is a matter of experimentation. Each variation within that 10% window will build a slightly different Scottish Light / 60 Shilling, so explore! Just be sure to keep that black malt below 2%. The Mash: This is another beer for the simple single-step infusion mash. A resting temperature of around 156°F, give or take a couple degrees, will give you the gravity and richer body needed for this style. Water: The mineral makeup of the water is not extremely important for the Scottish Light style, in fact, unless you have terrible water I’d suggest using unaltered water the first time you brew. Taste it, and then make adjustments you believe are necessary from there. There is no need to add gypsum, but a little salt can help accent the sweet (1¼ teaspoon calcium chloride or table salt). Again, I’d go with your straight water the first go around. Hops: Because hops grow poorly in Scotland and the closest (and cheapest) place to import them from was England, it is traditional to use English hops, but not absolutely necessary. Hops are very much secondary in the Scottish Light beer style. Their impact on the overall flavor is so minimal that it really doesn’t matter what variety of hops you use. And, come to think of it, because of these characteristics this is an excellent place to use up some of those older hops you may have around. Low bitterness and low flavor characteristics are a necessity for this style, so keep that in mind when selecting a type of hop to brew with. The Boil: If using the above simple grain bill (98% pale, 2% roast barley) you can create a small amount of caramel flavoring by kettle caramelization. This is the process in which you take a small amount (1/2 a gallon for a 5 gallon batch) of your wort and boil it in a separate kettle from the rest until it becomes a deeper, richer brown color. Then add it back into your main brew kettle. Often you can start both your small boil and main boil at the same time and by the time your main wort has begun to boil the caramelizing wort is ready to be added back in. If you have added other specialty grains like crystal, chocolate, or black malt this step can still be done, but isn’t necessary because we will get color and caramel flavors from the grains. Yeast: The yeast is important for this style, but not for the same reason it’s important for say, a Belgian pale ale style, or even an English style. For those styles you’d select a yeast for the flavors it imparts. Here, we want a yeast that is very clean and neutral, with minimal flavor additions, and one that can ferment at a temperature below 60°F. The particular strain is not that important as long as it has a neutral profile. Pitching a lot of healthy yeast and fermenting at a cooler temperature also helps reduce yeast flavors. Yeast strains that would work well for a Scottish Light include: DRY — Safale US-05 or Danstar Nottingham LIQUID — Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale or White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh Scottish Ale Create a yeast starter. You will be fermenting at a cooler than usual temperature, so you will need a greater quantity of healthy yeast. Doubling the amount you’d cast for most other ale styles will work wonders. Fermenting: Scottish ales are fermented a bit differently. Most ale will ferment out in about a week if not less, but because Scottish ales are fermented much cooler it can take up to three weeks for the primary to finish. Then it is traditionally cold conditioned in a secondary for up to 6 weeks to aid in clarity and accent the malty profile. Cheers!