Loch Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, Bru Handbuilt Ales, Boulder

Style: Scotch Ale

Serving Type: 22-ounce bomber

ABV: 8.2 percent

Hop Meter (1–10): 3

Malt Meter (1–10): 9

Reviewed: August 2015

Like so many craft beer drinkers, I’ve become something of a hophead over the years. During the late summer/early autumn hop harvest, I’ll seek out so-called “wet hop” beers. I can tell you the difference between hop varieties like Cascade (which are grapefruity) and Chinook (piney). I’ve even sought out bars that have a device that allows tap beers to be run over whole hops en route to the pint glass. But this time of year, my craving for excessively hoppy beers wanes (just) a little bit; as the evenings turn cool, and you can smell the scent of wood being burned in the air, I turn to darker, maltier beers. These are beers, as my late grandfather would say, that will put hair on your chest.

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BRU Handbuilt Ales’ Loch Wee Heavy Scotch Ale is one such brew. In my experience, Scotch Ales can be a mixed bag. Sometimes they’re just kind of… blah. Sometimes they’re overly smoky. Other times they’re too boozy. At 8.2 percent, no one’s going to suggest Loch as a session beer, but what separates this brew from other big beers is the phenomenal balance in flavors. Carmel notes on the nose give way to a hearty malt backbone with a light smokiness. The dark amber beer is unfiltered and naturally carbonated, which gives it an effervescence missing in many other dark beers. As darker beers go, this is about as easy drinkin’ as it gets.

Loch Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, which was awarded a silver medal in the Scotch Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival last year, is a perfect beer for this time of year. Pair it with some cured meats and a smoky gouda—and you could be forgiven for thinking for a fleeting moment that you’re in Scotland on a crisp winter evening.

The Ideal Drinker: A skier or snowboarder who’s returned to the cabin from a long day tackling Vail’s Back Bowls.

(Check out 5280’s comprehensive guide to Colorado’s craft beer scene)

Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke is the editorial director of 5280 Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffVanDyke