#65b. Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
Entry: AleSmith’s Wee Heavy (10%ABV, California)
This home state version of a Scottish style of beer is rated ever-slightly higher than it’s culturally authentic shelf-mate. And that worries me. Because knowing how these rating sites work, I know this is going to be stronger, alcohol-wise, and probably fully torqued, flavor-wise to a possibly ridiculous degree.
Oh, God. I was right. I was right about everything. True to California craft-brew tradition, just crank every fucking thing to 11 and go to town. First thing, this pours a lot darker than the Traquair House Ale. Not quite black, but definitely a dark, chocolately brown, with a much creamier head. The aroma has that caramel malt scent mingling with a light smokiness. Upon sipping, this beer is way more stout/strong ale than the Traquair’s super-porter style. The caramel malt is still there, but with a good portion of coffee flavor and a balanced smoke flavor. The smokiness, which I feel is often overdone to the point where it feels like I’m going down on an ashtray, is actually really reserved and pleasant here (like scotch, somewhat un-ironically), adding to the complexity versus just sitting on top and being annoying. But this thing is strong. I’m not going to be able to finish this 750ml bottle alone or I’m going to have to pour myself into bed. It’s not QUITE a stout, as it’s not as big and thick and creamy, but it’s getting there. I will be the first to acknowledge that this is a well-made beer, but it’s just not my thing. A giant, boozy (though it hides it well), coffee/smoke-flavored glass of near-stout is not my preferred style. I can totally appreciate it for what it is, but I doubt this is finding its way into my fridge again.