Just yesterday I opened up my first stage fermenter to transfer my Scottish ale to it's second stage. First of all...it looked like toxic waste. Second of all...I smelled it and it literally singed my nose hairs. Finally...it doesn't taste bad but it DOES taste like fire (not that it stings...it just tastes very strange)

I picked a Scottish Ale for this brew because I don't think I've ever really had one and it'd be a fun way to learn.

Is this supposed to be such a serious beast, or did something go wrong?

  • What do you mean by "looked like toxic waste"? Did it have large patches of "things" floating? If it smells funny too, I would say it's contaminated. Apr 13 '10 at 17:07
  • 2
    I upvoted this because it made me laugh. Not at you, just the words are great. Thank you. Apr 13 '10 at 17:18
  • Edit your question with the recipe, yeast and fermentation temps and it will make for an even better answer.
    – brewchez
    Apr 14 '10 at 13:12

Th singe in your nose was the CO2 you get a wiff of. It tends to 'burn' the mucos membranes a bit in the nose. (If you've ever had to lean into a near empty dry ice bin to scoop out dry ice you'd know what I am talking about). So that part is quite normal.

The temperature that you fermented and the choice of yeast may have created some higher order fusel alcohols. These alcohols tends to burn a bit as they go down. Not to mention that when consumed in higher amounts give you a wicked headache (no comment).

Scottish ale should be smooth and malty. It typically is presented in three strengths all of which are low to medium alcohol. They are normally session beers. There should be pronounced toffee and dark bread flavors. Scottish ale is very pleasant and highly drinkable.
Scotch Ale on the other hand is intended to be higher in alcohol and I can see that if your ferment wasn't done well you'd have some burning.

Depending on the age of your sampling (likely early as you were talking about wiffing the fermentor) I suspect got into the beer early. In my experience, scotch and scottish ales take some time to balance out right. Even the mildest forms of 60/- scottish ale.

So give it some time and/or watch the fermentation temp next time around.


What was the recipe for your Scottish Ale? It sounds like your beer has been contaminated.

I just had a commercial Scottish Ale last night and it definitely didn't "singe my nose hairs". It had a sweet, malty taste, low hop character, and a bit of a smoky flavor, but definitely not fire.

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