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Scotland: Malty Ales

Scotland has managed to preserve a distinct brewing identity, seperate from that of England, in much the same manner as it has successfully retained its own culture. The Scottish preference is for soft, sweetish malt-accented ales with low hop bittering. However, Scotland has all but lost the thriving independent breweries that made Edinburgh one of Britain’s greatest brewing centers in the days when Scotch ale was shipped to all corners of the Empire. The giant brewer, Scottish and Newcastle (now owned by Heineken and Carlsberg), and The Caledonian Brewing Company (also owned by Heineken/carlsberg), both of whose products are exported to the United States, are the only two remaining breweries of any scale in Edinburgh. U.S. consumers will more easily encounter domestic renditions of craft-brewed Scottish-style ale than the real thing. However, the export version of McEwan’s Scotch Ale (from Scottish & Newcastle) can still be considered a benchmark for the style in the United States. And happily, there are some exciting new craft breweries emerging in Scotland with recipes ranging from medieval to avantgarde.

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