The beer I grabbed for this week is Great Divide’s Claymore Scotch Ale. This beer is brewed after a style known as the “Wee Heavy,” or strong scotch ale. These beers tend to be very deeply malty with lots of earthy and caramel notes and a very reserved hop profile. These beers are the strong beers of Scotland and are excellent for aging, similar to the Old Stock Ale style in England. This beer will pair well with strong meats such as sausage and grilled meat as well as with more buttery cheeses. I actually think it could go well with something like zucchini bread or other heavy, dark desserts. I also think it would couple well with brie cheese, which is one of my personal favorites. I’m going to pair it with sweet potato bread. This beer should be served in a standard pint glass.
Great Divide Brewing Co. was founded in 1994 by Brian Dunn in Denver. Dunn had begun homebrewing a few years earlier during graduate school, and his brewery was one of the first micros on the Denver scene. The business was located in Denver’s Ballpark Neighborhood, and at first, Dunn was the only full-time employee. Great Divide purchased an old dairy processing plant in 2001 and now boasts 45 staff members and 17 Great American Beer Festival medals. Of special note are the lengths that Great Divide goes to to reduce its environmental impact. All of its spent grain is used as feed on a local cattle farm, the hot water left over from chilling the wort is captured for later use, and almost all of the brewery’s packaging is recycled. This is becoming fairly common among microbreweries, but it is especially noteworthy given the size of Great Divide.
The beer poured a clear black color with some reddish brown highlights at the edge, but this was as dark as a porter. Virtually no head formed, even with a very vigorous pour, and the few bubbles that gathered around the edge of the surface were light brown in color. The aroma consisted of mostly a smoky malt with an interesting mix of sweet, bitter and coffee highlights. The taste was very smoky and moderately sweet, which unfortunately came off as burned plastic to me. There was virtually no bitterness from the hops, but there was a little bit of an astringent, slightly bitter character from the roasted malt. I’m guessing they used a little bit of a very heavily roasted malt like black patent rather than more of a somewhat lighter roast. The body was moderately thick with very low carbonation.
This beer was pretty good, although I was initially taken aback by the burned plastic character. This flavor dropped off as the beer sat for a few minutes, though, and after that the beer was quite pleasant. However, definitely drink this very rich beer with food.