Friday, August 22, 2014

Sheep Eater Scotch Ale – Grand Teton Brewing Co.

                The latest Cellar Reserve beer from Grand Teton Brewing Company was released this past Friday, August 15th; although it may still be another couple weeks before we see a bottle this far east.  The third beer in the 2014 Cellar Reserve series is the Sheep Eater Scotch Ale, a beer which originally debuted in the 2009 Cellar Reserve series and has become the more requested Cellar Reserve release in the years since.  I personally enjoy the Cellar Reserve series and look forward to each new release.

                I was fortunately able to get ahold of Grand Teton Brewmaster Rob Mullin to get his take on Sheep Eater so be sure to check that out at the bottom of the “They Say” section.  It’s always great to get additional information direct from the brewmaster.

                Over the next few weeks I am sure that ratings for the 2014 release of Sheep Eater will start to roll in on the two major ratings sites.  The previous release scored a 90 on Beeradvocate and received a 92 from the Bros.  Over at ratebeer it received a 97 overall and a 95 for style.  On to the review!

They Say:

Sheep Eater Scotch Ale was first brewed in 2009 and has become our Cellar Reserve most-requested for a comeback. Scotland's cold, blustery climate lends itself to the growing of barley and oats but not to the production of hops, which are almost always added sparingly. In order to create depth and diversity in the beers brewed in Scotland, malts were roasted and kilned to help bring out hidden flavors.

Scotch Ales are some of the world's most flavorful beers. The specially roasted and kilned malts used in the mash impart roasted, caramel, and raisin sweetness to the flavor profile. Our ale is brewed with black roasted barley and peat-smoked malt, adding even more complexity to the palate. It is gently hopped, fermented cool and aged cold for exceptional smoothness. The result is a copper-brown color and a pleasant mouthfeel and body.

We ferment this beer colder than most ales ferment so that we do not risk producing any flavors driven by yeast-produced esters. Instead, we want the malt to shine through and provide all the wonderful flavors Sheep Eater has to offer.

Drink this beer at cellar temperatures between 47-57 degrees Fahrenheit. The strong dark malts and high levels of alcohol will make this beer an ideal candidate for prolonged cellaring. Enjoy this beer with flavorful meats such as honey ham, well-marinated and grilled steaks, and roasted root vegetables lightly seasoned with salt. With dessert, try crème brûlée and a side of berries; the light and airy texture of the crème brûlée and tartness of the berries will balance nicely with the thick, sweet mouthfeel of Grand Teton Brewing’s Sheep Eater Scotch Ale.

Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%.
Original Gravity (Plato): 22˚
Color (Lovibond): 20˚
IBUs: 21

Sheep Eater Scotch Ale will be available August 15, 2014 in 1/2 and 1/6 bbl kegs and bottle-conditioned 750 mL cases.

Brewmaster Rob Mullin adds:

                Sheep Eater is definitely one of my personal favorites. It was originally inspired by my memories of McEwan's Scotch Ale, over twenty five years ago my first exposure to strong, flavorful beer. If I had to choose one beer that inspired me to brew, it'd be McEwan's. Thick, rich, complex, almost syrupy malt, balanced by mellow warmth and a hint of smoke.

                Of all the beers in our Cellar Reserve Series, I think Sheep Eater best demonstrates the appeal of aging beer. This year's version was brewed with the same recipe we used years ago, and the specs are
almost identical, yet through its time in the cellar I was a little worried. It just didn't have the rich complexity I was looking for,
and remembered from the first batch. We bottled the 12 ounce samples a
few weeks ago, and racked some kegs. That beer, with just a little age, has already gained most of what I remember loving about Sheep Eater. With more time it will only get better. The phenolics from the
peat will mellow, the edges will smooth out, and the flavors will blend even more harmoniously. I'm really excited to drink this one over the next couple of years.

                If this is a style you like, I'd recommend buying a few bottles. We filled fewer than 400 cases so I don't think it'll be around long.

I Say:

                Sheep Eater Scotch Ale pours a very clear deep mahogany with a thick, creamy, light tan head with moderate rocky breakup on top.  The headstand holds very good retention, sticking around minutes after the pour, but not through until the end of the glass.  This is a very pretty beer to look at, but no one ever buys a beer just to stare at it, at least no one in their right mind.  The aroma is dominated by sweet, toasted malts that signal more complexity to come.  Slight caramel notes are evident, alongside dark raisins, and a subtle, peaty smokiness that lends additional complexity.  Earthy hop notes and caramelized sugars round out the back end.

                Much like the aroma, the flavor is dominated by malts.  There is a pleasant upfront caramel malty sweetness which quickly becomes considerably more complex.  Notes of raisins, and toasted malts transition to more caramel and peat smoke to a touch of roasted barley and earthy hops in the background.  The roasted barley dries out the finish, although not so much that there is a persistent slightly smoked caramel aftertaste.  Sheep Eater is smooth and sweet up front, transitioning to a semi-dry finish.  It is on the full side of being medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

                I have never made a secret of the fact that I enjoy the beers coming out of Grand Teton Brewing, and that I feel the Cellar Reserve beers are some of the best I have had.  The Sheep Eater Scotch Ale is no exception, it is a remarkable beer that I will be stocking up on to enjoy once the weather gets colder.  As Rob noted above however, this is a particularly small release, so it might be a hard one to find in stores.  If you see it though, I would recommend that you do pick up at least one bottle to see what it’s all about.

                That’s all for tonight, I will get another review up next week!  Have a great weekend and Happy Drinking!

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