Autumn ushers in football, cool weather, and to many beer drinkers — darker, malty brews. Strong Scotch Ales, also called “Wee Heavies”, are thick, malt-forward beers that originated, of course, in Scotland. They’re the kind of beer William Wallace or Rob Roy might drink to keep warm on a cold Highland night. As a style, the Strong Scotch Ale isn’t exactly a household name but it does make for a toasty, malty treat on a cool autumn evening.
Coming down the tracks today, all the way from Erie, Pennsylvania is the Railbender Ale — a Strong Scotch Ale brewed by Erie Brewing Company. This Strong Scot pours clear dark-amber with a minimal off-white colored head that dissipates quickly. It’s lightly carbonated with just a few bubbles trickling toward the top of the beer. It looks great in the glass. Caramel and chocolate malts greet the nose, along with some freshly baked bread and loamy, earthy aromas. It smells rich, malty, and fantastic. Dark caramel malt is the first flavor noticeable, followed by sweet malt flavors with a hint of spice mid sip. This smooth and medium-bodied Wee Heavy finishes with a toasty-ness that lingers. It’s lightly hopped but some pleasant nutty and woody tasting English hops are noticeable, the malts taste European-full, sweet, and robust.
Even with the ABV sitting at 6.8 %, the Railbender is surprisingly drinkable. The chewy, maltier, and higher abv Strong Scotch Ales can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for many beer drinkers, but this one‘s on the lighter side (for a Wee Heavy) and more approachable than most. It’s complex and malty, yet does have some balance. It will pair well with grilled meat but does well on it’s own, it would be a great beer to sip while sitting around a campfire on a cool fall evening.
Who’ll Like This Beer: Beer geeks who love dark, malty beers should try this one. Those who’ve tried the Oktoberfest beers and found them enjoyable should try the Railbender.
Little Known Fact: Scottish beer styles are minimally hopped because no hops are native to Scotland.
The Verdict: A Strong Scottish Ale that‘s malty yet balanced and drinkable.
Rating: 8/10 Mugs