For centuries beer has been a source of heritage, history, and culture all over the world, particularly with regard to Scotland's 60 Shilling Ale. Jump into time machine and join us on a journey to discover the origins of Scottish 60 Shilling Ale. Uncover the hidden layers of history, from its development to its transformation, from a beloved national icon to an almost-extinct relic of a bygone era. Get ready to delve deep into Scottish brewing from the age of the kilted man... And his trusty ale!
Authentic Scottish ales are typically characterized by malt-forward flavors, low to moderate alcohol levels, and often a presence of slight smokiness. Although today few beer styles that could accurately fall under the category “Scottish Ales” are commercially available, the category did not always suffer from the lack of representation. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that one beer style held a prominent place amongst these classic brews: the now virtually extinct Scottish 60 Shilling Ale.
60 Shilling Ale is also referred to as "Light Scotch Ale" in some American brewery recipes due to its low starting gravity and light body. The name "60 Shilling" originates from its original price in the 1800s, when a pint of its mild ale was sold for 60 shillings. This price was pretty expensive for the time, primarily because of its high quality.
As craft beer started to become more mainstream in the mid-1970s, Scottish 60 Shilling Ale began to slowly fade from the market. The style was replaced by stronger, more complex beers. As people craved more flavor, fewer and fewer breweries started to carry the traditional 60 Shilling Ales. This lead to the death knell of this once popular style, as 60 Shilling Ales all but disappeared from the market by the beginning of the 21st century.
60 Shilling Ales are typically pale to amber-colored with a lighter body. They can range from light and highly drinkable to darker and maltier, depending on the specific brewery doing the brewing. They are strong for the style, with an ABV of between 4% and 6%. The flavor is light and sweet, with malty notes of caramel, toffee, and toast. The aroma is also malt-forward, and has slightly nutty and bready notes.
Traditionally, 60 Shilling Ales were brewed with a combination of Maris Otter, Crystal and Munich malts, giving the ale a subtly sweet, rounded flavor. The beer was then usually hopped with Goldings, Fuggles, and Northdown hops, which imparted an earthy, herbal aroma. The beer was then fermented with a British ale yeast, and then cellared, like any other ale, for a few weeks.
In the last decade or so, 60 Shilling Ale has started to make a slight comeback. Many craft breweries have started introducing their own take on the style, with some breweries even referring to the style as “Scotch Ale”. These beers tend to be maltier and higher in alcohol than their traditional counterparts, with a more pronounced hop presence over the traditional beers.
Although 60 Shilling Ales may never become as popular as they once were, craft breweries across the world are making sure that the style does not disappear entirely. By putting their own spin on the style, these brewers are reviving the tradition of this classic beer, making sure that it will live on in one form or another.
Although the traditional version of 60 Shilling Ale is all but gone, craft breweries around the world are making sure that the style won’t be forgotten. By brewing their own version of the beer, these breweries are reviving the tradition and allowing people to experience the light, malty, and subtly sweet flavors of this traditional Scottish Ale.