Old Ales, also referred to in the past as Stock Ales, are low attenuated beers with high levels of dextrins, creating a full malt body with plenty of character. Old Ales from centuries past were often transferred into vats to mature, hence the name. Commonly a rich, dark amber to a deep brown color, some examples are nearly black. Tamed aromatics. Although bittering levels can greatly vary, expect fruity, vinous, intense malt flavors and sharp alcohol characteristics. The often racy but mellow attitude of the beer may also include acidic notes, raisins, and black currants. Vintage varieties may have a low level of oxidation while stronger versions sometimes exhibit similarities to port wine. Brewers may also inoculate a portion of the batch with Brettanomyces lambicus and age it for an extended period of time to achieve an old-school acidic character.
Scotch / Wee Heavy
The Scotch Ale is overwhelmingly malty, with a rich and dominant sweet malt flavor and aroma. A caramel character is often part of the profile. Some examples feature a light smoked peat flavor. This style could be considered the Scottish version of an English-Style Barleywine. Overly smoked versions would be considered specialty examples.
Scottish-Style Ales vary depending on strength and flavor, but in general retain a malt-forward character with some degree of caramel-like malt flavors and a soft and chewy mouthfeel. Some examples feature a light smoked peat flavor. Hops do not play a huge role in this style. The numbers commonly associated with brands of this style (60/70/80 and others) reflect the Scottish tradition of listing the cost, in shillings, of a hogshead (large cask) of beer. Overly smoked versions would be considered specialty examples. Smoke or peat should be restrained.
These malty, sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. A big malt presence, both in flavor and body, leads the way. The color of this style ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced in the aroma. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon. Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced seasonal ales will slap "Winter Warmer" on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the "wassail" tradition of blending robust ales with some combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the like before hops became the chief "spice" in beer. American varieties many have a larger presence of hops both in bitterness and flavor.
Part of the “strong ale” category, the American-Style Wheat Wine Ale is not derived from grapes as its name might suggest. Made with at least 50 percent wheat malt, this full-bodied beer features bready and candy flavors, and finishes with a great deal of malty sweetness. These beers may be oak-aged and sometimes have small amounts of darker malts added.