Review of Parallel 49s Salty Scot Ale

So here’s today’s question. When purchasing craft brewed beer, is it reasonable to expect those brewers to make their beer according to style? Ask this question at the next meeting of your local home brew club and you’ll ignite an amazing debate. The reason it becomes a question is because craft brewers just love to stretch their wings and experiment with their beers. And with so many craft brewers on the market today, a brewery has to try something funky to make their beer stand out from everyone elses.

With Scotch ale for example, there are certain things you might expect out of your beer. A deep caramel, perhaps nutty maltiness for example. This would usually be followed by a noticeable lack of hops. After all, importing hops into Scotland is expensive, and the Scots are nothing if not frugal. Some ales of this style might offer up a little bit of peatiness or flavors of herbs such as heather. Again, hops are expensive, so more affordable solutions have to be found.

Today, many north American craft brewers include a Scottish ale in their line-up, whether as a seasonal or part of their core line-up. And being nothing if not irreverent, many such brewers put their own spin on their beers. Parallel 49 is no exception. Salty Scot is a deep amber ale with highlights of ruby and marmalade. Carbonation is light. And yet the beer supports a thick, off white head with good retention.

The aroma of butterscotch fairly leaps from the glass. It’s sort of a combination of assertively butterscotch with a back note of saltwater taffy. This is supported by aromas of malt and maybe just a hint of peatiness. Maybe the peatiness is just my imagination, though. No, not peat. On closer examination it’s raisins, kind of like when they show up in a cinnamon bun.

Salty Scot is definitely a mouthful, but it’s unclear as to whether it’s a good thing in this beer’s case. On the tongue, Salty Dog starts off with the caramelized raisins sort of flavor you’d find in a cinnamon bun. This coupled with flavors of butterscotch and saltwater taffy. Thankfully these flavors don’t dominate the palate as they did on the nose otherwise it would just be too much. These flavors combine in a more or less decent way tasting much like liquid cinnamon buns. Finish is short and dry, lacking the malty oomph that most Scotch ales have.

Overall this is a 6.75 out of 10. As a genuine fan of this sort of beer, it’s difficult to categorize exactly where this one falls short for me. It’s obvious the brewers are trying to something cool and fun with this beer but it fails to come together in any kind of cohesive fashion. Instead of having a decently malty caramelly Scotch ale, you’ve just got a beer that tastes somewhat of cinnamon buns.