Forget what you think you know about Scottish “wee heavy.” Courtesy of founder Gareth Young, this is Glasgow-based Epochal’s historically rooted take on a strong stock ale: huge, heavily hopped, and matured for months with hops and Brettanomyces.
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For more about this unusual yet historically rooted style, see When Scotch Ale is Stock Ale, with Scotland’s Epochal.
Batch size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%
22 lb (10 kg) Maris Otter, Golden Promise, or other favorite British pale malt
8.8 oz (250 g) whole-leaf East Kent Goldings at 60 minutes [80 IBUs]
3.7 oz (105 g) whole-leaf East Kent Goldings at 20 minutes [20 IBUs]
2.7 oz (77 g) whole-leaf East Kent Goldings at dry hop in secondary, 6–12 months
White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh Ale or favorite characterful ale strain; Brettanomyces clausenii or other preferred Brett strain or blend
Mill the grains and mash at 149°F (65°C) for 90 minutes. Recirculate until the runnings are clear, then run off into the kettle. Sparge and top up as necessary to get about 7 gallons (27 liters) of wort, depending on your evaporation rate. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the schedule. After the boil, chill the wort to about 63°F (17°C), aerate well, and pitch plenty of healthy yeast. While fermenting, allow the temperature to free rise to 75°F (24°C). (Recommended: a blow-off hose.) Once fermentation slows and the beer starts to look reasonably clear, transfer to a purged secondary fermentor with Brett (or to a purged, previously inoculated barrel) and add the dry hops. Age for 6–12 months, with the dry hops. Once gravity has stabilized and the beer tastes good, package and carbonate to about 3 volumes of CO2.
Re-Use the Hops: All those whole hops will soak up a lot of lovely high-gravity wort—an ideal time to experiment with an old technique: running a lower-gravity wort directly on top of the boiled hops to brew another beer. (The 19th century brewer and writer James Steel suggests doing this with a porter.) The hops will still have plenty of bitterness, and you’ll get a little gravity bump from the wort that has soaked into them.
Big Mash: Unless you have a massive mash tun, you can consider brewing partial batches over 2 or 3 days to hit quantity—that’s what we do at Epochal. Fermentation is well underway when we add the additional partial batches. Double-mashing is another option.