BRASSERIE DE SILLY SCOTCH SILLY is the 11th brewery and beer from the BELGIAN FAMILY BREWERS group in Belgium we are BrewViewing. This is yet another beer that is several years overdue for a BrewView, due to the fact that the beer itself had become limited in availability. In the mid 90’s we read about this beer from GLOBAL BEER NETWORK, but just wasn’t yet available in our area of the San Francisco East Bay town of Livermore, California (our home town) at the time. During that period, I found myself taking a trip down to Los Angeles to visit my friend who I discovered the world of craft beer with in 1981 (read story).
Our former website- (The BeerMaster’s Café) had a business communication relationship with Global Beer Network when they were still located in California. I called Global Beer to find out where I could try Scotch Silly in the LA area. I spoke with Claudine Fincioen-Van Massenhove (one of the founders of GBN) and she directed me to the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, CA.
Trying Scotch Silly there for the first time, I remember the taste being very sweet, sumptuous, rich and strong. Being a fan of the movie Braveheart, I thought to myself at the time, “This is a beer William Wallace would have enjoyed!” However over the years, the availability in those days was very scarce for this beer in the Bay Area. I did manage to try it again sporadically over the years, with the last time being nearly a decade ago. I was very surprised to find it here in my current town of Redding, California, where availability of beers form Belgium is very limited! As soon as I saw it in our local World Market, I snagged one up to review again…
HISTORY OF BRASSERIE DE SILLY
Brasserie de Silly, a sixth generation independent family brewer, is located South West of Brussels in the Hainaut Province of Wallonia. Silly is a little dormant farming village just outside the old city of Enghien, which was once world famous for its tapestries. Larger farms used to have their own brewery up to well into the 20th century.
The brewery started in 1850 under the name of Cense de la Tour, and then became Brasserie de Silly in 1852 when Nicolas Meynsbrughen bought the farm and started to keep records on his brewing activities.
At the end World War I, Scottish soldiers were stationed just outside of the village, and were seeking out a good beer to drink. They asked Brasserie de Silly if they could brew a Scotch Ale. The trouble was, the brewers had no idea on how to brew a beer in the Scotch Ale style, nor did they have access to the necessary sugars to brew it to the liking of the Scots.
The Scottish commander was very fortunate to find an operational brewery to meet his request, as the German armies had dismantled many of the breweries in Belgium. Many of the raw materials for making beer- (hops, malt, etc.) were in short supply in Belgium due to the ravages of the war. However, the commander had access to the necessary materials in the UK to do the job. He had the materials shipped to Brasserie de Silly, and voila! a world class Scotch Ale was born. The recipe for Scotch Silly that was created at the end of World War I remains unchanged today.
To get a more detailed account on how Scotch Silly came to be as a beer, watch the video below.
(Some text used from: http://globalbeer.com/belgian-beer/scotch-silly)
OUR BREWVIEW OF BRASSERIE DE SILLY SCOTCH SILLY
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
8.0 % ABV. Poured into a Scottish Thistle-shaped glass, and served at 51°F. Pours a reddish-brown color with a light tan head. This is a bottle conditioned beer with a lot of yeast at the bottom of the bottle- and as usual, we poured it into the glass… The head pours and easy 2-finger height, and is tightly bubbled and dense. As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is dense and thick. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). We waited 7 minutes before even tasting it; the head remained a 1/2″ height. The meniscus is slow rising, characteristic of a beer with an ABV of at least 10-12%.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The immediate aroma is heavy in the treacle toffee, brown sugar, caramel, maple syrup. There is a nuttiness to the bouquet, but more in the background. This beer is not so much about hops, it’s about very sweet aromas- just as the Scots like it.
The taste is very sweet (due to the candi sugar used in the brewing process), heavy in burnt treacle toffee, brown sugar, molasses, caramel. There is a light nuttiness- but again in the background. This beer is very syrupy sweet and thick. There is very little hop flavor.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The mouthfeel is syrupy sweet, almost like a “microwaved pancake syrup” feel to it. It coats the whole area of the tongue. This is not an effervescent beer; it is more sumptuous, rich, heavy. The aftertaste is sweet and nutty. The toffee finish lingers.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Blue veined cheeses, raw milk cheeses, sausages, Charcuterie, Tomate-crevette. ENTRÈES: Filet américain, Boudin, Carbonnades Flamandes. Spicy Mexican or Morroccan dishes, to balance the heat. DESSERTS: Liège waffles, Speculoos, Crème brûlée, chocolates, chocolate cheesecake.
It was good to revisit this beer again. This is one of the world’s great Scotch ales, brewed by an equally great and classic Belgian brewery. Scotch Silly would be a great beer to introduce your friends to, who want to try a “dark” beer for the first time. This is a world class Scotch ale, no other like it. Seek this one out for sure… special order it from your local beer shop if you have to- it’s worth it. “Cha deoch-slàint, i gun a tràghadh!”
BRASSERIE DE SILLY:
BRASSERIE DE SILLY BEERS AVAILABLE IN THE USA FROM GLOBAL BEER NETWORK: