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Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy

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Location: British
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 17C - Wee Heavy

Style Description

This is the description of how the Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy style of beer should taste, feel and look. However, there may be perfectly fine beers in this style that fall outside of these ranges and descriptions. This information is just to show the most commonly accepted ranges for the Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy beer style.

Pleasant, low level oxidation is acceptable in Scotch Ales. Examples exhibiting more prevalent oxidation are categorized as Aged Beer. While there are conflicting theories as to whether traditional Scotch Ales exhibited peat smoke character, the current marketplace offers many examples with peat smoke character present at low to medium levels. Peat smoke attributes may be absent or present at low to medium levels. Versions exhibiting higher levels of smoke character are categorized as Smoke Beer. When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, competition organizers may create subcategories which reflect groups of entries based on presence or absence of peat smoke-derived attributes.

  • Color: Light reddish-brown to very dark
  • Body: Full
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: Scotch Ales are aggressively malty with a rich and dominant sweet malt aroma and flavor. A caramel character is often part of the profile. Dark roasted malt flavors may be present at low levels.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Not present to very low
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Not present to very low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters, if present, are generally at low levels. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at low levels.
  • Common Ingredients: Well-modified pale malt, with roasted barley for color. May use some crystal malt for color adjustment. Slight smoke character may be present in some versions, but derives from roasted grains or from the boil. Peated malt is absolutely not traditional.
  • Commercial Examples: Belhaven Wee Heavy, Gordon Highland Scotch Ale, Inveralmond Blackfriar, McEwan's Scotch Ale, Orkney Skull Splitter, Traquair House Ale

Brewing Properties of Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy

These are the functional brewing properties of Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy beers, as descided by the Brewers Association. These guidelines reflect, as accurately as possible, the historical significance, authenticity or a common profile in the current commercial beer market.

The alcohol by volume is shows the amount of alcohol this style of beer should have.
6.6 - 8.5%
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
25 - 35 IBUs
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM grains impart a pale straw color while higher values mean it will add a darker color to the wort. Learn more »
15 - 30 SRM
(30 - 59 EBC)
Original Gravity
Original Gravity (OG) is a measure of the sugar content in the wort before alcoholic fermentation has started to produce the beer.
1.072 - 1.085
Final Gravity
The Final Gravity (FG) is how much sugar is left over in the beer when fermentation is complete.
1.016 - 1.028

If you see an error in our data, please let us know!

Based on Brewers Association 2020 Beer Style Guidelines with changes. Used with permission of Brewers Association.