Overview for the Scottish Ale

Scottish Ales (also known as Scotch Ales) are often enjoyed during the winter. Their flavors are rich and malty with sweet notes of caramel and toffee. Historically, the Scottish Ale encompasses the four sub-styles Scottish Light, Scottish Heavy, Scottish Export, and Wee Heavy. Their names were indicative of the beer’s gravity and its expected cost for a barrel of beer. Similar character to a Wee Heavy, but much smaller.

Style Expectations

A malt-focused, generally caramelly beer with perhaps a few esters and occasionally a butterscotch aftertaste. Hops only to balance and support the malt. The malt character can range from dry and grainy to rich, toasty, and caramelly, but is never roasty and especially never has a peat smoke character.


Pale copper to very dark brown. Clear. Low to moderate, creamy off-white.


Low to medium maltiness, often with flavors of toasted breadcrumbs, lady fingers, and English biscuits. Low to medium caramel and low butterscotch is allowable. Light pome fruitiness in best examples. May have low traditional English hop aroma (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.). Peat smoke is inappropriate.


Entirely malt-focused, with flavors ranging from pale, bready malt with caramel overtones to rich-toasty malt with roasted accents (but never roasty) or a combination thereof. Fruity esters are not required but add depth yet are never high. Hop bitterness to balance the malt. No to low hop flavor is also allowed and should of traditional English character (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.). Finish ranges from rich and malty to dry and grainy. A subtle butterscotch character is acceptable; however, burnt sugars are not. The malt-hop balance tilts toward malt. Peat smoke is inappropriate.


Medium-low to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation. Can be relatively rich and creamy to dry and grainy.


Dirty Bastard

Scottish Ale  •  Founders Brewing Co.

Dirty Bastard is an award-winning Scottish-style Ale by Founders Brewing Co. that’s malty and sweet with a complex balance of bitterness. Read More

Belhaven Scottish Ale

Scottish Ale  •  Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

Belhaven Scottish Ale is brewed in the Scottish Export style by Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd. and blends biscuit, toffee, earthy hops, and lemon. Read More

Pumpkin Down

Scottish Ale  •  Ballast Point Brewing Company

Pumpkin Down is a Scottish Ale by Ballast Point Brewing Company whose use of pumpkin and spices nicely complement the style’s toasty malt. Read More

Maple Scotch

Scottish Ale  •  Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Maple Scotch is a Scottish Ale by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. that sweetly combines caramel, maple syrup, and bready malt. Read More


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