25 Beers of Christmas: #8

Founders – Dirty Bastard

Scotch Ale

8.5% ABV

Founders Brewing – Grand Rapids, MI


The Scotch Ale, when executed well, can be a truly wondrous drinking experience.  These are the heavier cousins of the lower-alcohol, lighter-bodied Scottish ales.  With almost zero hop presence, either in aroma, flavor, or bitterness, these are malt-bombs, usually rich, warm, and sweet, but that may also be the downfall.  Many Scotch ales are overly sweet, not malty enough (read: thin), or just plain don’t taste very good for any number of reasons.  However, Founders iteration, Dirty Bastard, is outstanding.

The aroma on this dark brown brew is of caramel, toffee, fresh figs and raisins, and currants or prunes.  Dark raisin bread, freshly baked.  The flavors are similar, with sticky caramel and dark toffee and figs most prominent.  Carbonation is moderate-low, just enough to balance the sweetness of the malts, and the beer has a juicy, lasting finish.  Full-bodied, rich, though lighter than you might expect based on the aroma and appearance.

This and other Scotch ales should be poured just slightly chilled, 55-60 degrees or so, into pretty much any glass, though one that will accentuate the malt aromas is preferable.  A snifter or a chalice would be great, but an English dimpled pint or nonic pint glass might be more traditional. 

Founders is absolutely one of my favorite breweries, with an outstanding lineup of beers that has few rivals.  They are probably best known for the barrel-aged KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), a much sought-after annual release, but their phenomenal Breakfast Stout is much easier to find and just as good, if not better.  Their All Day IPA, a session beer, and Centennial IPA are great showcases for hops, as is their “Triple IPA”, Devil Dancer and their Black IPA, Dark Penance.  I must mention as well the limited release Backwoods Bastard, which takes everything great about Dirty Bastard and amps it up. And Founders Porter is one of the absolute best, smoothest, most flavorful American Porters on the market.

JAB - 12/18/15