Style of the Month: Scottish 60 Shilling

by Steve Piatz

This article originally appeared in the May 2009 newsletter of the Minnesota Home Brewers Association.

This month’s Style of the Month is for a Scottish 60 Shilling in preparation for the June meeting. The Scottish 60 Shilling will take about three to five days or so to ferment out.  If you are bottle conditioning you should allow a couple of weeks for the bottles to carbonate. That means you really should get yours brewed in early May if you want it ready for the June meeting. Of course, you don’t have to bottle condition the beer so kegging it could save you a few weeks.


From the description of the Scottish 60 Shilling in the BJCP Guidelines available at Aroma: Low to medium malty sweetness, sometimes accentuated by low to moderate kettle caramelization. Some examples have a low hop aroma, light fruitiness, low diacetyl, and/or a low to moderate peaty aroma (all are optional). The peaty aroma is sometimes perceived as earthy, smoky or very lightly roasted. Appearance: Deep amber to dark copper. Usually very clear due to long, cool fermentations. Low to moderate, creamy off-white to light tan-colored head. Flavor: Malt is the primary flavor, but isn’t overly strong. The initial malty sweetness is usually accentuated by a low to moderate kettle caramelization, and is sometimes accompanied by a low diacetyl component. Fruity esters may be moderate to none. Hop bitterness is low to moderate, but the balance will always be towards the malt (although not always by much). Hop flavor is low to none. A low to moderate peaty character is optional, and may be perceived as earthy or smoky. Generally has a grainy, dry finish due to small amounts of unmalted roasted barley. Mouthfeel: Medium-low to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation. Sometimes a bit creamy, but often quite dry due to use of roasted barley. Overall Impression: Cleanly malty with a drying finish, perhaps a few esters, and on occasion a faint bit of peaty earthiness (smoke). Most beers finish fairly dry considering their relatively sweet palate, and as such have a different balance than strong Scotch ales.

There are no classic commercial examples  of Scottish 60 Shilling available locally. The style does not travel well and is typically only available served from casks within the United Kingdom.

Scottish 60 Shilling

  • OG: 1.030 – 1.035
  • FG: 1.010 – 1.013
  • SRM: 9 – 17
  • IBU: 10 – 20
  • ABV 2.5 – 3.2%


The Scottish brewers were early adopters of technology such as the thermometer and the hydrometer. The Scottish brewers were also early adopters of sparging when the English brewers were still using double mashes. Double mashing means draining the mash tun into the kettle and then adding additional hot water to  he mash, stirring, and draining again. Scottish brewers typically boiled the wort for 60 to 90 minute versus the English 180 minute boil of the same era. Scottish brewers were farther north, they fermented their ales as cool as 50° F. Whereas the English brewers allowed there ale ferments to go as warm as 70° F, Scottish ferments would rarely go above 65° F. The lower fermentation produces less esters in the beer and can leave a little diacetyl in the beer. The typical Scottish yeast strain tends to have a lower attenuation rate, so with the same original gravity as in an English beer the Scottish beer would finish a little sweeter. Many Scottish yeasts will take the beer only down to one third of the original gravity, i.e. OG 1.100 with a FG of 1.033; where most English ale yeasts would take the beer to one quarter of the original gravity, i.e. OG 1.100 with a FG of 1.025.

Many of the major Scottish breweries were/are situated in locations were the brewery can obtain multiple levels of dissolved minerals in the water by using different well depths. The typical Scottish ale uses relatively soft water. Hops were more expensive in Scotland than England or continental Europe because Scotland is too far north for cultivating hops. Like most commercial English brewers, the Scottish brewers frequently added adjuncts (sugar) to the kettle.

Today, the 60 Shilling beer (abbreviated as 60 /- for 60 shillings and zero pence) has an original gravity of about 1.034. The shilling number associated with a Scottish beer was the price per barrel of the beer. On any given day, as the number of shillings per barrel was increased the original gravity typically increased. For a fixed price of a barrel of beer, as the price of ingredients changed the original gravity of the beer changed. In 1850, a 60 shilling beer had an original gravity of 1.074. The use of peat-smoked malt in the Scottish beers is NOT appropriate. If there is a slight smoke character in the beer, it is likely from the yeast working at a low temperature.

The Recipe

The recipe target is for an original gravity of 1.034 and about 18 IBUs for 5.5 gallons of wort. That should give you a full five gallons of beer in the fermenter after the typical losses in the kettle. The process calls for a traditional Scottish technique: you want to intentionally caramelize a portion of the wort by taking about a gallon of the wort and boiling it until the color starts to darken before adding the caramelized portion back to the full boil.

This style can double as a yeast starter to grow a lot of yeast to ferment a big beer like a Strong Scotch Ale. Once you rack the the 60 /- off the yeast you can just run the chilled wort of the big beer into the fermenter.

All-Grain Version

The bulk of the grist is Pale Ale Malt. The roast barley is just to add a little depth to the color and a light dryness to the beer.

Amount (lbs) Ingredient
6.50 Pale Ale Malt
0.16 Roasted Barley

Extract Version

For the extract version, replace the Pale Ale malt with the light extract.

Amount (lbs) Ingredient
4 Light Liquid Malt Extract
0.16 Roasted Barley

If you do not have the ability to boil the full 7 gallons of wort in the extract recipe, try for the largest boil you can handle. If your boil volume is significantly below 7 gallons, you will probably want to increase the hop quantities. Remember, a partial boil is going to result in a slightly darker colored beer than you would get from the same ingredients used in a full volume boil.


You should produce this beer with relatively soft to moderately hard water. With the highly alkaline (carbonate) water like from most of the deep wells in the Metro area, I would suggest blending your tap water with equal parts of distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the hardness.

The Boil

The hop bill is as follow:

Amount (oz) Hop Variety (pellets) Time Left
1.00 East Kent Goldings 4.25%AA 60

Post-Boil Processing and Fermentation

The yeast choices for the style include the Scottish strains White Labs Edinburgh Ale (WLP028) and Wyeast Scottish Ale (1728). No matter which yeast you select, you need to chill the wort to the suggested fermentation temperature range. Getting some oxygen into the chilled wort is a good idea, oxygen injection or even air from an aquarium pump with a sterile air filter can do the job. You can start the fermentation in to 50’s °F and let the temperature climb into the low to mid-60’s to keep the ester production low.

If you are bottle conditioning, bottle the beer after targeting about 2.0 volume of carbonation and then allow it to carbonate for a couple of weeks at room temperature.


Greg Noonan, Scotch Ale, Brewers Publications, 1993.

Recipe files

Scottish 60 Shilling recipe files: