Uncovering Scotland's Sweet Stout History

Do you think you know everything there is to know about Scotland's beer scene? Think again! Considered the nation's most distinctive type of beer, Scottish Sweet Stout has been brewed throughout Scotland for centuries. It may not be top of mind when it comes to Scotland's beer scene, but it has its own unique flavor, history and evolution. Follow the journey of Scottish Sweet Stout, from its Celtic roots to the modern craft beer era.

Scottish Sweet Stout: Scotland's Distinctive Beer

When you think of Scottish beer, many people will think of Scotch ale, Scottish ale, or shilling ale. But there's another iconic style that defines Scotland's brewing history — Scottish sweet stout. Sweet stout is a style of beer that's unique to Scotland and has been around for centuries.

What makes Scottish sweet stout so unique? This full-bodied dark beer style has an intoxicating aroma and flavor that's unlike any other beer style. Malt plays a central role, with a generous helping of roasted barley. Sweet stout can also have notes of coffee, crazy, caramel, and chocolate. The hop presence is minimal, allowing the malt to shine.

History of Scottish Sweet Stout

Scottish sweet stout has a history and tradition that can be traced back centuries. The roots of this style of beer can be found as far back as the 18th century. The first known sweet stout brewery in Scotland opened in 1720 in Edinburgh.

The popularity of sweet stout has waxed and waned over the years, but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it became an integral part of Scottish brewing culture. Scottish sweet stout had a characteristic that set it apart from other beers during this time period — it had a lower gravity and felt somewhat lighter on the palate.

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In the 1920s and '30s, the popularity of Scottish sweet stout surged, with many different breweries producing their own versions. This beer became a mainstay in pubs and venues across the UK. As time went on, the popularity of sweet stout declined as breweries shifted their attention to other beer styles.

Modern Examples of Scottish Sweet Stout

Today, many breweries have started to produce their own versions of traditional Scottish sweet stout. These beers pay homage to their historical precursors, while still taking creative liberties to produce unique beers. The core flavor of sweet stout remains the same — roasted malt that delivers a combination of coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors. Here are three of the top-rated Scottish sweet stouts on the market today.

  • Tartan Porter from BrewDog: This beer features notes of roasted malt, coffee, and dark chocolate. It has an ABV of 6%.
  • Truly Scottish Sweet Stout from Eden Mill: This sweet stout has a deep and complex malt character that offers notes of caramel, dark chocolate, and coffee. It has an ABV of 6.1%.
  • Hogmanay Stout from Stewart Brewing: This beer delivers a flavor experience that includes notes of roasted malt, licorice, and dark chocolate. It has an ABV of 7.1%.

Brewing Your Own Scottish Sweet Stout

You can easily brew your own Scottish sweet stout in your own home brewhouse. All you need are the right ingredients and a good recipe. Here's a breakdown of a basic Scottish sweet stout recipe.

  1. Grain bill: Pale ale malt, crushed crystal malt, roasted barley, black malt, and chocolate malt. Add just enough hops for bittering.
  2. Mash temp: 66-67°C
  3. Boil time: 60-90 minutes
  4. Fermentation temp: 20-22°C
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Once you've assembled the ingredients and your wort is complete, all that's left is to ferment and bottle. The finished beer should have a deep, dark color and should have flavors of roasted malt, coffee, and dark chocolate. If you brewed it right, you should have a delicious Scottish sweet stout to enjoy.


Though it isn't as well-known as other Scottish beer styles, Scottish sweet stout has a rich history and a unique flavor profile that stands out amongst the other types of beer in Scotland. With a combination of roasted malt and coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors, this beer is a delicious treat that you can easily make at home.

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