Before WW I, Scotch Ale mostly consisted of the top-end Shilling Ales. Things like 100/-, 120/-, 140/- and 160/-. These were characterised by a low degree of attenuation and a low level of hopping. Usually, except at William Younger, they were parti-gyled with weaker Shilling Ales. Younger brewed almost exclusively single-gyle.
In the interwar period, most breweries in Scotland heavily rationalised their beer ranges. Shilling Ales mostly disappeared and breweries constructed most of their beers from a Pale Ale parti-gyle. Including Strong Ales, which were just the strongest of the bunch. Much the same way as Golden Pride is the strongest beer from Fullers Pale Ale parti-gyle.
William Younger ploughed a different furrow. Before WW I, they had two parallel ranges of Strong Ales, 120/-, 140/- and 160/- was one, the other the Burton-inspired No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. Only the latter survived the war, in the form of No. 1 and No. 3.
They were usually labelled Scotch Ale in England and Strong Ale North of the border. A typically OG was 1080-1090º, though there were stronger examples. The strongest were about as strong as beer could get and had pre-WW I type gravities.
William Younger, who always were a bit different from other Scottish breweries, had two different strength Strong Ales. No. 1 had a similar profile to those from rival breweries. But it also had a weaker version, No. 3, which was also available on draught. In London, it filled the draught Burton Ale slot. Both No. 1 and No. 3 were brewed single-gyle.
Despite being dark in colour, there was no coloured malt in any of these beers. The colour all came from caramel added post-fermentation.
|Bottled Scotch Ale before WW II|
|1933||Ballingall||Strong Dundee Ale||1083.5||1023||7.89||72.46%|
|1934||Jeffrey||No. 1 Strong Ale||1059.5||1016.5||5.59||72.27%|
|1933||Usher||Old Scotch Ale||1096||1022||9.72||77.08%|
|1935||Younger, Wm.||No. 3 Strong Ale||1053.5||1010||5.67||81.31%|
|1932||Younger, Wm.||No. 1 Strong Ale||1080||1026.5||6.95||66.88%|
|1933||Younger, Wm.||No. 1 Strong Ale||1082||1023||7.69||71.95%|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document TU/6/11.|