Light amber to mid-range brown in color, strong ales are medium to full bodied with a malty sweetness and may have low levels of roast malt character. Hop aroma should be minimal and flavor can vary from none to medium in character intensity. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas can contribute to the character of this ale. Bitterness should be minimal but evident and balanced with malt and/or caramel-like sweetness. Alcohol types can be varied and complex. A rich, often sweet and complex estery character may be evident. Very low levels of diacetyl are acceptable. Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures. (This style may often be split into two categories, strong and very strong.)
Last night I found myself in a pub which only serves Belgium beers. As we arrived and I saw the Leifmans sign I inwardly groaned as I expected to spend the evening drinking extremely sweet beer.
Having once drunk 9 pints of Leifmans in 45 minutes in a drinking competition I was sure that this pub would hold nothing for me. However, there was one beer on the menu that caught my eye, Scotch De Silly.
Scotch De Silly is an extremely smooth scotch ale which has a pleasant hoppy bitterness. It is brewed by Brasserie de Silly, a sixth generation independent family brewer located south west of Brussels in the Hainaut Province of Wallonia. While Silly has existed since at least 1850, it only became a full time brewery in 1950.
Apparently during WWI all the hops growing in Belgium were destroyed, but a Scottish brewer offered English Kent hops to the Silly brewery owner. The Scottish man insisted on staying to show Brasserie de Silly how to make Scottish ale and since then Scotch De Silly has been brewed exclusively with Kent hops.
It is a dark ruby-red colour and like all Scotch ales it is slightly sweet, but definitely not too sweet (at least for my tastes). It is officially described as offering “a finely wooded nose hinting at hazelnut and is therefore distinct from traditional British scotches.”
As with most Scotch ales it is fairly strong, 7.5% abv, but it certainly doesn’t feel this way when you drink it. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I drank three of them very happily.
Another aspect of the beer I enjoyed was its light carbonation. It was almost completely flat and that is definitely something I look for in a beer. Apparently there is another version of the beer aged in Bordeaux barrels, so I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for it and may come back and update this entry once I’ve tried it.