FROM APPLETON (WIS) POST-CRESCENT
May 7, 2008
Scotty Karate is aptly named for a 9.75 percent beer that kicked most of its competitors last fall by winning a silver medal for Strong Scotch Ale at the Great American Beer Festival.
Its strength puts it into a category that traditionally was referred to as a “wee heavy,” essentially a Scottish barleywine.
Scotty Karate has a huge malt aroma and flavor, is hopped a bit more than you might find in beers from Scotland and its sweetness is more in line with McEwan’s Scotch Ale. But unlike that lighter beer from Scotland, which is so sweet I can barely make it through one, Scotty’s alcohol strength balances out the malt sugars.
The body is slightly syrupy from the malt, which gives a creamy mouthfeel more than a cloying one. Caramel, toffee and bread notes dominate the taste, with a medium carbonation that is just right for this type of beer. There is a slight smokiness in the aftertaste that is typical of the style — in this case, from hardwood smoked malt.
A homebrew club I once belonged to received an e-mail from a gentleman in Scotland who happened across a Scottish ale recipe on the club’s Web site. He admonished Americans who used smoked grain for the style, writing that any smokiness from ales made in Scotland is derived from the yeast strain. I have used the Scottish yeast variety in homebrew and it does impart a slight smokiness. However, I have also used smoked peat malt and been just as happy with the results. The world can accommodate both methods.
Dark Horse beers are currently only available in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Its distributor list can be found here: www.darkhorse|brewery.com/distributors_newfront.|asp.
I do have to mention the confusion over the use of the terms “Scottish” or “Scotch.” Some people argue that the beer style should only be called Scottish ale, since Scotch generally refers to whiskey. But Dark Horse’s own Web site uses both terms in its description of Scotty Karate, so there should be nothing wrong with using the term “Scotch Ale.” What is not debatable, however, is that you should never refer to a person from Scotland as Scotch.
Beer Man sez: Scotty Karate has a tasty kick.
TODD HAEFER of Scandinavia gets paid to drink beer and write it for Weekend. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.