I came across this bottle on a recent trip to Redstone Liquors. I’m a sucker for a good label, and this is one featuring a red lion rampant and the name of one of my favorite breweries. I’m a big fan of Belhaven’s flagship offering, their Scottish Ale, so I made a leap of faith in trying this, their Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, a type of beer I’m not that familiar with.
It pours a dense caramel color with a moderate head that disappeared fairly quickly. Not much lacing on the glass. The beer smells of molasses, malts and a slight campfire smokiness. The smokiness is far more subtle than the Rauchbier I tried recently (that was smokey!), but it’s definitely there.
This is a far sweeter beer than I’m accustomed to drinking. Taste is one of rum raisins, roasted malts, and I think I’m picking up some candied sugar and vanilla in there (though these last two are very faint). Not a lot of hops are evident. A creamy medium mouth feel, with light to moderate carbonation. Very smooth drinking but a bit sweeter than I generally prefer.
A quick word on temperature: One thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years of paying closer attention to craft beer is that temperature can really affect the taste of beers, and this one is definitely subject to that rule of thumb. The Wee Heavy definitely benefits from warming up a bit out of the fridge. I started drinking it at about 45 degrees, but allowed it to warm to closer to 50 and it really opened up nicely. In my opinion though, you won’t want this at room temperature; I think there’s a very narrow temperature range at which this beer will be best. It can’t be too cold, but it definitely benefits from having a chill. 48-50F is probably optimal.
I don’t have a great deal of experience with Scotch ales, but this is pretty good, best suited for a cold night as an after-dinner beer. You’re probably not going to want more than one of these in a sitting, but it’d be a nice beer to cellar for next Christmas, enjoyed sitting around the fire after dinner.
Taste: B (but again, this is not an everyday beer)
Drinkability: B (you probably wouldn’t want more than one and only under the right circumstances). This is a sipping beer.
Vitals: 6.50% ABV, 1 Pint, 0.9 oz bottle served at about 49 degrees F for optimal taste.