At times like these, I turn to two of my favorite Midwestern Scottish ales Columbus 90 Shilling, brewed by Columbus Brewing Co., and Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, by Founder's Brewing Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich. Though both are
malty and suited to crisp spring and autumn evenings, the differences between Scottish and Scotch ales are stark.
Scottish Ales are clean beers with little hop character to get in the way of big, complex malt flavors. Toasted malts are used to balance the sweetness, often imparting earthy and peaty notes that people associate with smoked
malts, though these are rarely actually present in the grain bills.
In its Columbus 90 Shilling ($4.25 a pint), Columbus Brewing Co. combines rich, bitter toasted and smoked malt flavors at the tip of the tongue with a sweet malt finish with just a touch of alcohol flavor (5.6 percent alcohol by
Each sip is preceded by a toasty aroma that some find challenging, but you will enjoy a small, thick head and just-right mouth feel if you drink it from a pint glass or thistle instead of a bottle.
Scotch Ales are big, balanced beers with just the right mix of hop bitterness, complex malty flavors and alcohol finish. The style is associated with a thicker mouth feel, lower carbonation, darker color and more intense flavors, and
is sometimes referred to as a "wee heavy."
Founder's has good cause to consider Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale ($10.99 a six pack in most stores) its flagship beer. A fine example of a complex style, it is a big beer (8.3 percent ABV), and all that flavor can seem a little flat.
Molasses and raisin notes emerge toward the bottom of the glass, crowning a beer well suited to the climax of a spring evening.
The early spring will bring the first barbecues of the season, and these two great beers are perfectly paired with gatherings of people in crisp air. Columbus 90 Shilling is a great Scottish ale that is quenching and subtle enough to
pair with grilled foods. For dessert, Founder's Dirty Bastard, a great Scotch ale, is sweet, big and complex.
Either way, you can't go wrong.
Michael Paull, a web developer for dynamIt Technologies, lives in the University District.