After going to the Gordon Biersch Maibock Tapping Party earlier this week, it was time to hit up Rock Bottom for the tapping of their Naughty Scot Wee Heavy. I don’t normally make it to Rock Bottom (RB) for their tapping parties for a number of reasons. First, you have to pay for the beers on tap. While they offer deep discounts for newly tapped beers, it takes some getting used to when GB doesn’t charge anything for their tappings. Second, RB their tapping parties only last for about an hour. After that, prices for the new beers go right to normal. Lastly, I’m not a RB Mug Club member so I don’t get any of their email announcements. That being said, I got wind of this tapping party through an email from one of the local homebrew club members.
Despite this being my first tapping party, I’ve been to Rock Bottom before during the dinner rush and this place gets crowded. The bar area was filled to capacity. We opted instead to reserve a table for 6 that had a 45 minute wait. Normally I’d walk to another restaurant if I had to wait 45 minutes for a table but that would defeat the purpose of going to RB to begin with. Right before the bell was rung signaling the start of the tapping party, RB assistant brewer Larry, stood atop the bar and gave a brief description of what to expect from this beer. Moments later, Larry stepped down, the bell rung and we got our beers.
Larry found our small group outside in the patio area where he was kind enough to chat with us for a little bit. RB brewmaster Scott was in Chicago for the Craft Brewers Conference. In fact, most brewers were in Chicago for that. I can only imagine how crazy the scene is there. In keeping up with all the tweets, I have to admit I’m a little jealous that I didn’t plan ahead of time to go. Next year for sure.
Naughty Scot Wee Heavy, Rock Bottom, 7.8% ABV
Naughty Scot pours out a slightly clear, dark brown with amber highlights and a beige head. Toasty, caramel-like malt notes make up most of the aroma with a noticeable alcohol presence filling out the rest. The flavor is echos the aroma: toasted, caramel malt flavors dominate, hop flavor is low, hop bitterness is low while a slight spice character from the alcohol is apparent. Naughty Scot is medium-high in body with medium carbonation and slightly dry.
HIstorically speaking Wee Heavys, also known as Strong Scotch Ales, are a good example of malt forward beers. Hops were not native to Scotland and were costly to import. Because of this, Scottish beers primarily exhibit malt aroma and flavors.
I think RB has put out a Wee Heavy that is a good example of the style. It pretty much hits all the main plot points for the style and in the instances it misses, it does so by a slim margin. If anything, I think this beer tastes a little too fresh and that in another week or two it should be fantastic.
I had a great time at this tapping party. In addition to having had a good beer, I found the staff at RB was nothing short of professional and courteous. The only negative to the entire evening had nothing to do with either the beer or the staff: the Bourbonzola burger had been removed from the menu. This greatly upset two of the people in my group simply because they had been looking forward to that burger all week. In fact, that’s the only thing they order whenever they got to RB. In any event, I’m looking forward to the next tapping party where I just might join their Mug Club.