Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fort Collins Brewery Wallace Wee Heavy review

Fort Collins Brewery Wallace, Wee HeavyIn the second in a back-to-back review session, I present a beer review of one of The Fort Collins Brewery's latest bottle offerings. The Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) has started putting out a series of beers in what they call their "Malt Monsters" series. One of the first such beers is Fort Collins Brewery - Wallace, Wee Heavy, a big Scottish-style ale.

FCB describes this beer as an "intense, malty brew" that put their brewing system to the test. It weighs in at a big 9.8% ABV, 57 IBUs and 21 on the SRM color scale. FCB packaged this beer in a 22oz (650ml) bomber bottle and released it around the beginning of April 2014. FCB stated that this beer took a 6-hour boil to make the caramel features stand out a bit more.

The BJCP guidelines describes a Strong Scotch Ale (or wee heavy) as an ale "fermented at cooler temperatures than most ales, and with lower hopping rates, resulting in clean, intense malt flavors." I expect this beer to be very malt forward, yet bittered just enough to balance and with a good warming effect. I happen to be a fan of Scottish-style ales, especially big ones, so I was eager to give this one a try.

Appearance: FCB's Wallace Wee Heavy poured out a medium dark brown color with reddish-orange highlights along the side of the glass. While it was darker than most beers, it was light enough that I could still see through it. There was an abundance of a tan head that seemed to linger for a while. The beer had good clarity, no signs of fogging or particulates. The head left a slight lacing, but that quickly slid off the sides and didn't stick.

Aroma: There is no mistaking the fact that Wallace, Wee Heavy was a big malty brew. The first several sniffs of this beer let you know that the malts were taking the spotlight here. I could smell a bit of caramelization in the malts, some sweetness, yet with a sense of earthiness from the hops. At 57 IBU's, there was a modest amount of hop bitterness included to take note of in the aroma. There was also a touch of alcohol heat detected, but overall, this beer smelled just as I would expect a big Scottish beer to smell like. For me, that's a rather pleasant aroma.

FCB Wallace Wee Heavy close-upTaste: Malt is the star of this brew. Wallace had a big, big malty taste with a nice warming effect following it. The beer had a medium body and the malt, while slightly on the sweet side, seemed to be balanced well with an adequate amount of bitterness. I could definitely tell this wasn't a session beer. The taste and complexity of this beer forced me to slow down and sip this one slower than most.

Beers like this tend to hide some of the flavor initially when first poured, but as it warmed, Wallace really brought out the malt flavor and aroma more and more. I tend to like these kind of beers slightly warmer than fridge temperature, but if you warm it too much it may ruin the rich complexity. Luckily, it also tends to warm the drinker from the inside quite quickly. So if a bit of heat concerns you, drink this one on a cooler day. The warm months of Spring and Summer may make you sweat a bit.

Overall: Of all the beers I've had from Fort Collins Brewery lately, this one I seemed to like the best. I would definitely recommend this beer as a wonderful malty brew that has a good flavor and a decent kick. It was a nice relaxing beer. While I had no problem finishing a glass of this beer, I felt that there was still some room for improvement here. It's well balanced, but there are even better Wee Heavy beers out there in this market and FCB at least put up a new contender that I think will stay above the average at least.

FCB seems to be changing their line-up in a big way lately and if this brew is any indication, I think they are headed in the right direction. Say goodbye to the norm and look for something wit a bit extra in this beer. I would definitely have this beer again and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next "Monster" is in their series.

Disclosure: During the last month, I have been sent four different samples of beers from The Fort Collins Brewery courtesy of their marketing department. I chose to review two of the four beers. I was not paid for this review.

Related articles:
- Fort Collins Brewery Out of the Ashes Smoked Märzen review.
- Fort Collins Brewery comes Out of the Ashes.
- Fort Collins Brewery to release Hoptitude Imperial Extra Pale Ale.

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