Old Fart Knocker

March 1, 2003 at 2:50pm

Author(s): Charlie Essers

A Recipe From a Stranger

There seems to be a strange need when we first start homebrewing to to brew everything as high in alcohol as possible. I can’t explain it, but I was afflicted with it too. Thankfully we do get over that, but the upside for me was a chance to try beer styles I had never been exposed to before. Call me sheltered, but I had never had a strong Scottish ale -- even though I have been known to wear a kilt when working at the local Renaissance Faire. It was, perhaps, six months into my brewing career that someone described a Wee Heavy to me.

Okay, a WEE HEAVY? Now that sounds like a cool beer. I had to find a recipe and make one. The next trip to my homebrew supply shop (The Home Wine, Beer & Cheese Making Shop of Woodland Hills, CA), after unsuccessfully searching through recipes posted there, I announced to a beer-geeky-looking stranger that I wanted to make a strong Scottish Ale but had no idea what to use.

In the next 10 seconds that stranger became my hero.

He tilted his head back, closed his eyes and said, “Write this down.” He then recited the recipe that eventually became Old Fart Knocker off the top of his head.

Mike's Scottish Ale Evolves

I learned the stranger’s name was Mike and thanked him for the religious experience. That year I made several batches of that unnamed Scottish ale making changes here and there each time. The original recipe called for 1/8 lb of Scottish peated malt, but most people preferred it with less of a smoky flavor. Personally, I like the extra layer of complexity the peated malt adds, but to encourage the homebrew fans in the household to support an ever-expanding hobby I usually leave it out. Right from the first batch this beer was big and had a huge malty mouthfeel. Those dextrins or unfermentable caramel sugars are probably responsible for the phenomena that led to giving this beer its name. The final partial mash recipe that was refined that year is the one posted here on BeerTools.

From Strong Scottish Ales To Light Pilsners

Old Fart Knocker eventually retired for a while when I got over the high octane obsession and tackled the challenge of brewing the lightest colored beer possible with flavor for a finicky father-in-law. That, of course, proved a lot harder and required a much more refined technique. Thankfully, sooner or later, we settle down into less scattered brewing goals and begin concentrating on perfecting our process. Old Fart Knocker has now been made as an all-grain beer, but I can’t say it improved its character. The original recipe with steeped specialty grains still does it for me. That “rich and malty, reminiscent of a dessert” flavor is big and if you can manage to let it age in the bottle for a year will knock your socks off!

Which, after all, are the only things you should be wearing under a kilt anyway.

View the recipe

Charlie “Ollie” Essers
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