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02-16-2013, 08:07 PM   #1
ImperialStout
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 Scotch Ale by Greg Noonan book review

Just got and read this book Scotch Ale by Greg Noonan twice, highlighting necessary information the second time as brewing details are not given in the recipes. You need to infer from the text what hops to use and when to add them. NO recipes are all grain. Recipes are only given for "liquid extract", "LME and grain" and a recipe to brew a barrel of beer. Converting to all grain is not straight forward either. Converting the LME to grain of course requires adjusting the mash and sparge volumes as well, but to what? The author uses a thick mash in all the recipes that he says requires a MASH temp, NOT strike water temp of 172 F, then over sparging to help extract sugars. Do you calculate the grain and water for a thick mash? What is the value of a thick mash? Why mash and sparge at 172 F when most recipes mash at 150 to 155? Most recipes say NOT to mash above 170 F to avoid extracting tannins. How much water do you use to over sparge?

LME is then used to hit the SG. Grain is calculated at 68% efficiency with a correction given for 65 and 70%. What if you typically get 75 to 80% efficiency as I do? All of this math can be worked out but it would require digging for hidden inferences in the text on what ingredients to use and how to brew them and then apply guess work to the recipe. I did that, reading the text twice and highlighting important info, and still have to guess on the recipe. The author states there is no way to accurately account for mash and brewhouse efficiency that affect the volume of water to use without knowing the specific equipment being used. My set up is typical of a lot of AG brewers, a 10 gal mash tun and an 8 gal brew pot. Other recipe books account for various equipment profiles and their nominal losses. My guess is the author expects you to make your best guess, brew the beer and make adjustments on the next batch. We all do that to some extent but the recipe should get us very close to the style parameters the first time. Without knowing what yeast to add and when, how much grain to use or how much water to add and sparge with for an all grain recipe, it's all guess work.

To give the author his due, it is a very well researched book as to the history and evolution of this style with some representative but incomplete recipes from 25 and 160 years ago. It is an interesting, informative and entertaining book from an historical perspective, but that's where the book stops.

If you want a book that gives you SOME history on the style but focuses on how to brew with usable extract, partial mash and all grain recipes, this is not it.

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02-19-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
Spartan1979
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Isn't this book fifteen years old or so?

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02-19-2013, 06:45 PM   #3
SPR-GRN
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I really don't have any answers to give you, I own the book but haven't dug into it yet.

I can tell you this, Greg Noonan Owned Vermont Pub and Brewery until he passed away, and the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale on tap there was the most magical drink I've ever had in my life; if that mans recipe stated I had to brew it naked on a full moon with a flower pot on my head, I would; I mean OK i tend to do most of that stuff anyways, but the flower pot would make it weird.

My Wee Heavy Scotch Ale recipe
16lb 0oz American 2-row
0lb 8oz Crystall 100L
0lb 4oz Roasted barley
1oz centennial at 45mins remaining
1/2oz centennial at 30mins remaining
1/2oz centennial at 15mins remaining
Wyeast Scotch Ale 1728
2oz Irish moss at 15mins

Make a 1qt yeast starter over two days +/-
heat 1qt water/lb of grain (thick mash) to 170deg strike temp
hold at 158deg for 90mins
sparge for 30mins at 170deg
boil 1 gallon of run-off for 30mins (seperate from actual boil)
add caramelized run-off to boil kettle, boil for 90mins
hop additions as noted above (45 remaining, 30 remaining, 15 remaining)

cool wort, add to primary, aerate well, pitch, store at ale temperature for 15-30 days.
Rack to secondary, cool condition (lager temps) for an additional 30 days.
Prime with corn sugar (5oz corn sugar)
bottle

bottle age minimum one month, will get better with age.

OG: 1.092 FG: 1.027 ABV: 8.7%

Notes:
1.) Attempt to make your sparge volume large enough so you wind up with 5 gallons at the end of the boil.
2.) I used centennial because it's what i had on hand, you can use anything to land you in the 40-50IBU range.
3.) It was suggested to me to have a single hops addition at 45mins remaining, as that's more in line with the style, but I love my Centennial hops.

Hope this helps.

This recipe was something I put together years ago, I brew it once a year and haven't changed it since Noonans death, because I got input from the staff at VPB to help work the recipe.

I have made this previously Partial Mash, but don't know where that version is, my old brew book got lost in the shuffle moving from VT to NYC to CT so I don't have all of my recipes/notes anymore.

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Secondary: "Not a Chardonnay", Malbec
On Tap: Pale Ale, Brown, Marzen
Next batch(es): Cider, dirty blonde

Updated: 8-21-2014

Last edited by SPR-GRN; 02-19-2013 at 06:49 PM. Reason: PM note