In 122 AD (or CE…) Roman Emperor Hadrian discovered something so shocking, so perverse, that he had no choice but to make one of history’s most racist decisions. What did he discover?
The Scots. His solution? He built a wall.
Yeah, there is probably more to that, but this was a research intensive article and quite frankly I’m not going to get into the why of it. Hadrian was emperor for all of 21 years, 11 of which he spent touring the empire. In spite of his short reign he left his mark on the empire by consolidating provinces, allowing much needed reforms, and engaging in infrastructure projects, such as a Roman Temple–located conveniently next to Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. That really pissed off the (((locals))), and the ensuing revolt apparently lasted three years. He is most famous however, for building a wall across Roman Britain to keep the barbarians to the north out.
The Scots weren’t all bad, and some of them were indeed good people. For instance, James Watt is credited with giving us the steam engine, allowing for the Industrial Revolution which to this very day impacts the way everyone in the western world lives!
Okay, technically Heron of Alexandria invented the first steam engine, but they did give us the greatest love story ever told!
Okay, technically Wallace was such a terrible statesman the nobility found it more convenient to martyr him, rather than putting up with him. Also, the only reason you still watch that movie is because you like Longshanks for being the archetypal shitlord and Monica Belluci circa 1996.
A Scottish regiment is famous for being the last ones to attempt a bayonet charge! In the early days of the Iraq war, they fixed bayonets and gave Saddam the business!
No, still not feeling it? Fine, they gave us this:
This is my review of Founders Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale.
Even though Scottish Ales are realistically all the same, I think a brief overview in naming convention is in order.
The Schilling System was instituted in the 1880’s, although there is some evidence it was in use earlier than that. By that time, it became a requirement by the British government due to a change in what was being taxed. Rather than grain and sugar, they simply taxed the beer. To add further confusion the tax itself was based on the invoice price of the quantity sold by the brewer (barrel vs. hogshead). To further add confusion:
“This dual application of pricing applied to two different liquid measures brought about complications: a 60/- ale in the barrel was a 90/- ale in the hogshead even though it was the same product. The actual price of the ale could be as little as half of the invoice cost once the calculated duties and the discounts allowed by the brewers were subtracted.”
Paying more tax for the same stuff because it was shipped in a different size barrel? No wonder we fought a war to get away from this…
The term, “Wee Heavy” came about during this time due to the variety produced by Scottish breweries at the time. The highest gravity varieties were sold in “nips” in 6 ounce quantities. Since it was a wee bit heavy you may not mind all you were getting was was then ⅓ of a pint, the beer was going to get you where you wanted to be: too drunk to consider the taxes you were paying.
For our purposes these come in three varieties.
The first is a 60/-. These are typically very light (<5%abv). Even though they have the same malty character that defines this style, it often leaves the experienced beer drinker wishing there was something more. A good example is Newcastle.
On the other end of the spectrum is 120/-. These are a wee bit heavier (hence the term) and quite frankly are not for everyone. Typically these operate in the 7-10% abv range. These can be a lot of fun but have one downside, which I’ll touch on shortly. A good example, is Orkney Skullsplitter.
Finally, there is the 90/- (80/- is traditional).
Like the proverbial third bowl of porridge, for most of us this one is just right. A good example is Bellhaven, but in the US there are dozens of good examples as well, all around 5-6% abv. The dominant craft brewery in my area is Four Peaks and their flagship brew is called, Kiltlifter. This is a carbon copy of Bellhaven and they sell it in insane quantities. So much so, they are one of the evil brands that sold out (though I argue they bought in) to InBev. Ironically, the first time I had it off tap was in Las Vegas, so should you find yourself there, try it out. Other examples are Great Divide Claymore, Oskar Blues Old Chubb, and Odell 90 Schilling (all from CO).
Dirty Bastard is 7.5% abv so it fits in with the Wee Heavy category. The only one I can really compare it to is from a brewery based in Utah, it was 10.5% abv and I seriously doubt you’ll ever find it. The Bastard has an overwhelming malt complexity and has more body than you can wrap your arms around. The downside is the moment it got within range of my snout I got a hearty whiff of booze. It took a sip or two for my olfactory sense to adapt but in the end I will likely continue to buy it a few times when it becomes available. For every other time of year, there is plenty of Kiltlifter to go around. Founders Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale: 4.2/5.0