Scotland has brought us many wonderful treasures, Scotch Whiskeys, kilts, Scrooge McDuck and the beloved man who has stolen all of our hearts and can do no wrong, Sean Connery! Not to mention the awesome accent. What you may not think of when Scotland pops into mind, is the beer. Of the many beer styles in the world, there are a relative few that stand out as unique. Today I would love to share with you one of my favorites, the Wee Heavy!
The ale brewed by Scots (hence Scotch Ale) known as the Wee Heavy, is a bit stronger than the average Scotch Ale. To me the name in itself gives fruition to a stronger name, almost like the Scotch Whiskey. Normally these beers are darker with a bit of a heavier and stronger taste. The wee heavy, on the other hand, is a scotch ale with more of an “mmph.” The differences are brought to the fore with a “wee” bit of a higher alcohol content, a thicker body and sweeter taste. So in a sense all Wee Heavy’s are Scotch Ales, but not all Scotch Ales are Wee Heavy’s.
Now don’t let the word “sweet” throw you off. The sweetness is more of a malty, caramel-like sweet. Some have said there can be a resonating bitterness, but this can mostly be experienced in American Wee Heavy styles. If you are looking for something different, and if you want to treat your palate a bit, a Wee Heavy might be right up your kilt – er, I mean alley.
A wee heavy is an all around enjoyable beer, great for a cool winter eve, or a crisp fall night. When you sip on this nectar you will immediately be enveloped with a delectable warming sensation that coats your palate as well as your entire being. While each wee heavy has its own distinct characteristics, you will still get a soft mouth feel and a smooth and hopefully balanced taste. The nuttiness mixed with caramel notes, with hints of roasty maltiness will leave you smiling, relaxed, and satisfied.
So without further ado, here are a few of my recommendations if you are looking to try something tantalizing, or not. Enjoy!
Wee Widdle Wabbit – The Alchemist Brewing
I really wish this was still brewed. I was able to try this before The Alchemist flooded… the first time. Though an ABV of 10.3% I found this this just made my mouth happy, vewy vewy happy, heh heh heh. Sorry a bit of an Elmer Fudd reference.
Scotty Karate – Dark Horse Brewing
Per the Dark Horse website, this beer is based off a “local one man band who plays an amazing slurry of honky tonk influenced, punk country songs. His voice is amazing as well as his high energy shows. (Check him out @www.scottykaratetime.com) So, we decided to make a beer and name it in his honor.”
I found this to be a fitting homage to this individual. It finished with a malty hoppiness. For a higher ABV, there was a definite smoothness to be had.
Export Scotch Ale – Black Isle Brewery
I have written an article on this one, and this has to be one of the best beers I have ever tried. Whether you are into wee heavies or no, this beer will totally envelope your taste buds and leave you feeling warm, happy and satisfied. I feel this truly defines “nectar of the Gods.”
I found it to have a smokey, yet chocolatey nose. With a deep molasses coloring and a hint of ruby when held to the light. The bitterness (probably due to 7.9% ABV) enters in after the initial nuttiness coats the palate. It has an almost porter quality, and is absolutely delicious!
Old Chub Nitro – Oskar Blues
There’s Old Chub, then there’s Old Chub with a kick of awesome! My first experience with this beer was a bit of a shock. I wasn’t used to so much flavor in a can, and that was just the original Old Chub.
The foam is like ice cream, thick and creamy. After sipping this frothy brew, its smooth and low carbonation, coupled with the deep, dark chocolate finish, leaves a smile with satisfaction. And for an added bonus, there’s a touch of sweetness to compliment your experience.
Wee Heavy – Flagship Brewing
The Flagship brewers describe this beer this way, “With cold weather, we welcome big beer! As we approach the inevitable winter, Flagship introduces ‘Wee Heavy.’ Brewed in the style of Scotland ales, Wee Heavy is as rich in tradition as it is in flavor. A longer boil adds a “caramelization” process producing a full body with higher alcohol content in addition to malty sweetness with a deep reddish brown color. We Americanize this warming Scottish beer by using a copious amount of Pacific Northwest hops. Flagship Wee Heavy is strong but not harsh, full flavored but with a clean finish.”
I concur, and all I can add is it’s deliciously smooth and slightly chocolatey.
Wee Heavy – Ale Smith Brewing
OK, this review gets me a little exited. I was able to try it twice, once in May of 2014 and next in February of 2016 thanks to Tavour. Interestingly, both were from the same year. At first, I wasn’t really “in to” wee heavies, so my initial reviews were ‘Slight sweet nose with a hint of a bitterness. A light body accompanied by a smoked caramel note and a flan-like after taste.”
The second time I have had it, my exact words were “WOW.” It’s a decadent dessert in a glass, yet not overwhelming. I would highly recommend sipping this and just taking your time with it. This one is a bit heavy as well, but I guess that’s to be expected since it is in the name. It truly is an experience to revel in.
For more of our reviews on this beer and others, stay tuned for our upcoming series The Barleymen! We will keep you posted when it airs. In the meantime, for more recommendations for us or from us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
I hope you enjoyed this wee heavy segment, and stay tuned for new and more exciting, exotic, and just great beers!