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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Sprecher Piper's Scotch Ale

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 8, 2006 3:05PM

2006_09_sprecher.jpgFor some drinkers, Scotch ales are an acquired taste. It might be the addition of peat-smoked malts to the brewing process. Or, it could be the earthy tones found in the beer. For casual drinkers, the high alcohol content might be too much; a strong Scotch ale weighs in at anywhere from 7-10 percent alcohol, by volume. Think about it for a while, and you'll find that these are reasons to drink a Scotch ale.

This week, we look north to our pickled neighbors in Milwaukee and their hometown brewery. Sprecher Brewing Company makes some of the most well-balanced beers in the Midwest. None of their selections are hop monsters, nor are they excessively teeming in malt. Nearly all of them have some serious alcohol content. It's almost recommended that you take your time drinking these, or eat as you drink.

One of our favorite Sprecher selections is their Piper's Scotch ale, which comes to you at 8.2 percent alcohol. The first thing you'll notice when you pop the top is a smoky peat aroma, with some undertones of wood and earth. It pours a deep copper color, with a tan head that quickly fades. Brewed with Goldings and Hallertau hops, with aromatic, caramel, pale, roasted, and Vienna malts, Piper's is remarkably balanced. Your palate will certainly notice the sweetnes from the malts, and some hints of leather as you work your way down the pint. Piper's finishes dry and a bit bitter, with some alcohol burn and grass lingering.

Sprecher beers often get dismissive glances from some folks we know, but, given the chance, you'll find some that stand up to the best craft brews around. In the upcoming weeks, you'll find Sprecher's limited-release brews in both 16-ounce screwcaps and sweet-looking one-liter cobalt blue flip tops. Sprecher Piper's Scotch Ale is one of their better selections and Chicagoist's "Beer of the week."