It’s a Scotch Ale. No, it’s a Wee-Heavy. It’s a Scotch Ale. But no, it’s a Wee-Heavy. But in fact, those are the same things, and as with heavier brews, they only get better when you let them barrel-age.
The Squam Brewing Moose Ale is – harkening back unto my early days of enjoying craft brews in the dead of winter (literally just last winter, I’m still a neophyte) – very much embodying of everything I love about big, heavy brewing. As a Wee-Heavy/Scotch Ale coming in at a respectable 8% abv, it – as with most dark and malty brews – has oh so many of its finest elements not only complemented in the aging process, but embellished in fine form.
Smooth and silky in its overall texture, with just a little nibble of boozy bite on the back-end of the finish, the Moose Ale has something of a familiar richness to it that is almost hard to categorize. It could be due to the bold, malty baseline flavor coming up against the softening sweetness that barrel-aging offers. Or perhaps it is something a bit more personal in respect to my palate, with this Scottish style of brew and its barrel-aged properties such as oaky hints of toffee and vanilla, similar to that of Innis and Gunn, being thrust into something of a more dark and weighty nature. In either respect, while somewhat inspiring of a head scratch, the sip itself is altogether delightful.
The product of one of New Hampshire’s true microbreweries, the Moose is (at least in my experience) one of their newest creations and one which does a rather good job of standing out from the pack in respect to its generally limited competition.
As with many darker beers, such as stouts or porters, this Wee-Heavy possesses a very strong malt profile, with a deep palate dominating heavy-weight sweetness lingering beneath. However, unlike those more conventional black beers, the Wee-Heavy exists in a place that is almost between them. Its actual body and mouthfeel is slightly lighter than a stout and ever just so heavier than a porter, while remaining somewhat transparent by comparison and deep brown in color.
Still a big, heavy, dark dram itself, it remains a slow sipper. Being higher in gravity (alcohol content) than many other more conventional fares, it does still possess something of a warm finish and somewhat numbing quality (as I write this, I grow notably more buzzed as I approach the bottom of the glass).
In this, I am somewhat tempted to say that this brew is out of season, as typically summer-time drinking is that which is dominated by IPAs, saisons, lagers and other lighter fares. However as a fan of big, dark, heavy beers in general, personally I am rather glad to see a new variety popping up to disrupt this standard order of things and return me to such dessert-like indulgence.
As it is unlikely those living outside of New Hampshire may be so fortunate to find this particular offering, I should hope that a review such as this may at least inspire those who’ve not yet enjoyed the right malty, sweet and head-banging robust flavors of a barrel-aged Wee-Heavy or Scotch Ale, to do so the next time they see such available. For those who can snatch up a bottle of this granite state micro-brew either while in the area of through friends who may be traveling through it, the Moose Ale by Squam Brewing is one I heartily recommend.
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
Read more beer reviews from Goroff by clicking through the gallery below.