It’s time for another additional for Know Your Styles. This week’s style, the Scottish 80 Shilling, is being brought to you by Brad Mock. Brad is a local homebrewer with the St. Louis Brews. If you attend the meeting, he’s one of the guys that brings you beer and food, which means you should always be nice to him. Also, a thanks to Paul from The Wine and Cheese Place for supplying beer for this feature. Without further ado, the Scottish 80 Shilling.

Scottish Scottish 80 Shilling


History: Traditional Scottish session beers reflecting the indigenous ingredients (water, malt), with less hops than their English counterparts (due to the need to import them). Long, cool fermentations are traditionally used in Scottish brewing.  The number in the style is reflective of it’s shilling category.

The shilling categories were based on price charged per barrel for beer during the 19th century. The stronger or better quality beers costing more. However, customers would ask for a strength of beer by names such as “heavy” and “export”. The terms export and heavy are still widely used in Scotland. Even though the practise of classifying beers by the shilling price was not specific to Scotland, during the cask ale revival in the 1970s Scottish brewers resurrected the shilling names to differentiate between keg and cask versions of the same beers. This differentiation has now been lost.

While the shilling names were never pinned down to exact strength ranges, and Scottish brewers today produce beers under the shilling names in a variety of strengths, it was largely understood that:-

(60/-) was under 3.5% abv
(70/-) was between 3.5% and 4.0% abv
(80/-) was between 4.0% and 5.5% abv
Wee heavy
(90/-) was over 6.0% abv
(/- is read as “shilling” or “bob”)

What you should smell:
Low to medium malty sweetness, sometimes accentuated by low to moderate kettle caramelization. Some examples have a low hop aroma, light fruitiness, low diacetyl, and/or a low to moderate peaty aroma (all are optional). The peaty aroma is sometimes perceived as earthy, smoky or very lightly roasted. In the case of my examples, the Sam Adams had a very pronounced dark caramel aroma mixed with a little dark fruit. The Schlafly has some caramel, but also had a tangy smell, like sour candy/  The Belhaven was slightly tangy aroma also, but mixed with brown sugar and dark fruit.  I can’t explain this.

What you should see:
Deep amber to dark copper. Usually very clear due to long, cool fermentations. Low to moderate, creamy off-white to light tan-colored head. The color on both American versions were darker than the Scottish, but past that, they all fit into the category descriptions.

What you should taste:
Malt is the primary flavor, but shouldn’t be overly strong on this “strength” of a Scottish ale. According to the BJCP guidelines, the flavors can be accentuated by a low to moderate kettle caramelization.  It is sometimes accompanied by a low diacetyl component, meaning a buttery or butterscotch flavor. Fruity esters may be moderate to none. Hop bitterness is low to moderate, but the balance will always be towards the malt. Hop flavor is low to none. A low to moderate peaty character is optional, and may be perceived as earthy or smoky. Generally has a grainy, dry finish due to small amounts of unmalted roasted barley. The Sam Adams has the most pronounced roasty, nutty caramelization of the three. It also had a slightly medicinal flavor I would attribute to hop selection.  The Schlafly had no strong flavors, but did have that strange tang coming through.  The Belhaven was very smooth, showed off it’s caramel and malt with a little fruit and no bitterness.

How you should be drinking this:
Like most ales, serving this at Light Lager temps will totally kill the mood.  ‘Nuff said?  Choose your favorite glass, I steer towards a tapered goblet style to show off the fine aromas.


What you should be buying: True examples of the non-Americanized Scottish Ale can be hard to come by.  In selecting an export strength or 80/- for my review, there was only one example to find at TWCP.  Belhaven.  A number of breweries will produce a Strong Scotch ale, which varies from this by a long way.  Here are some commercial examples.

Orkney Dark Island, Caledonian 80/- Export Ale, Belhaven 80/- (Belhaven Scottish Ale in the US), Southampton 80 Shilling, Broughton Exciseman’s 80/-, Belhaven St. Andrews Ale, McEwan’s Export (IPA), Inveralmond Lia Fail, Broughton Merlin’s Ale, Arran Dark

Vital Statistics:  OG: 1.040 – 1.054
IBUs: 15 – 30  FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 9 – 17  ABV: 3.9 – 5.0%