Great Northern Brewing Company, Whitefish

Story & photography by Lido Vizzutti
Great Northern Brewing’s Lumbersexual Scotch Ale weaves a low-hop patchwork of quiet caramel and toffee through a big, malt-forward fabric. It’s as cozy as a red flannel shirt and as full-bodied as the beards of its namesake.

“I like that it is a strong beer, strong traditional style,” said head brewer Joe Barberis. “But it’s low in bitterness, so it emphasizes a different set of flavors. It’s a good Montana spring beer.”

Originally released as the first installment of the Draught House Bushwhack Series — an assortment of single-batch brews inspired by Whitefish’s quirkiness while giving a brewer the freedom to experiment — the Scotch ale quickly grew as a favorite and now is a house rotator.

According to Jessica Lucey, retail marketing and promotions manager, the Lumbersexual celebrates that particular outdoorsman, prim in a flannel shirt and tight jeans, who looks capable of felling a lodgepole pine yet is more likely holding down a stool in a craft brewery than wielding an ax.

“He’s trying to bring back that ol’ timey charm with a rustic flair,” said Lucey.

There is a certain congruent charm in the Scotch ale (or Wee Heavy). It is a simple style, overwhelmingly malty, rich and boozy. Higher gravity, complementary English-style hops and some residual sugars offer nice, but not overly sweet, caramel and toffee undertones, while the specialty malts offer a bit of a roasted flavor.

“We sought out to make it as authentic as we could in our location here,” Barberis said. “That’s the main thing that’s going to set this beer apart from other Scotch ales — its attention to the details.”

Brewing small batch, Barberis could use malt, hops, yeast and brewing methods not used in his other recipes in an effort to mimic as closely as possible the traditional Scotch ale.

“We went out of our way to get the (Golden Promise) malt, using the right hops with it and adding the extra boiling time,” Barberis said.

The extended boil develops a caramelization of the wort and deepens the color. A cooler fermentation with British-style ale yeast brings out esters that accentuate the malt flavors.

“Some serious beer people might note that 30 IBUs would normally produce more hop character than is found in Lumbersexual,” Barberis said. “The hops and bitterness are there, but they are balanced out by a full body and the flavorful malts used in this beer.”

Style Scotch Ale
IBU 30
ABV 7.4%
Malts Montana 2 Row, Golden Promise 2 Row, Light & Dark Munich, Caramel 55, Special B & Chocolate
Hops CTZ & Willamette
Yeast Ale
Appearance Dark Cloudy Amber
Description Overwhelmingly malt forward strong ale, low in hops and bitterness, not overly sweet with hints of caramel and toffee. Big, rich, full-bodied and boozy.
Where to get it You can find the Lumbersexual Scotch Ale on tap for a limited time at Great Northern Brewing Company located at 2 Central Ave. in downtown Whitefish. It is expected to be available at certain locations across the Flathead Valley, Missoula and Bozeman, as well as Washington, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota. Ask your local bars and restaurants for availability, or contact Great Northern Brewing Co. at www.greatnorthernbrewing.com or (406) 863-1000.