Moylan's Scotch Ale: Memorable, in a Smelly Hamster Wood Shavings Kind of Way

Beer: Scotch Ale (Kilt Lifter) Brewery: Moylan's Brewery & Restaurant Style: Scotch ale ABV: 8 percent

When I was little, I had a hamster named Roxy. She was a great little hamster, playful and gentle, and the two of us used to hang out for hours, she running around in her little wheel while I fed her some hamster food. But one day, Roxy began to get fat. I wasn't worried at first, thinking she had just gone a little overboard with last night's meal. But she got bigger each day, ballooning to the point at which she couldn't walk on her little hamster legs anymore. They dangled there uselessly like T-rex arms, and she died stuck on her big hamster butt. Poor Roxy.

What does my childhood pet have to do with this week's beer? We'll get to that. First, a bit of history: Moylan's Brewery & Restaurant opened 1995 in Novato, Calif. -- a lovely, hilly little burg that lies pretty much smack between Santa Rosa and San Francisco. It was founded by Brendan Moylan, who also happens to a brewer and co-owner of Marin Brewing Co., which he helped open in 1989. Moylan's namesake brewery produces about a dozen beers year-round -- some of which are pretty good and have actually won medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. They also produce Kilt Lifter.

See also: SunUp White Russian Imperial Stout

At least that what the beer's called in every state Moylan's distributes to except Arizona. Here, due to copyright contentions with a certain local brewery, it's simply known as Scotch Ale. And it was this beer, dear readers, that reminded me so vividly of my poor, departed Roxy -- mainly because the beer's aroma and flavor have the overriding and undeniable funk of a hamster cage.

Sure, it has a nice caramel color and a light khaki head that leaves spotted lace gripping the sides of the glass. Sure, there were some enjoyable flavors of caramel, peanuts and raisins. But it was all buried under mounds of smelly hamster wood shavings.

I have to thank Moylan's -- the beer they made reminded me of my dear departed friend Roxy. But it sure as hell didn't remind me of a drinkable Scotch ale.

Zach Fowle is a BJCP-recognized beer judge and a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.

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