Scottish Light BJCP 9A - Brewer's Friend
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Scottish Light BJCP 9A

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

A friend of Brewer’s Friend, Niall, wrote in from Edinburgh Scotland about what a real Scottish Light (style BJCP 9A) should look like:

Niall: “Hi, I noticed you feature Scottish Light (60/-) on your colour chart (, but that it’s shown in the same colour range as 70/- and 80/-. Light is in fact extremely dark coloured, like stout or a really black Dunkel.  I hope this helps!”

Larry: “Check out this page for info from the BJCP: Note the SRM (color) is the same for the three you mentioned. … We yanks don’t get around to brewing the Scottish Light style much, and that’s probably part of the misconception to begin with.”

Niall: “I can well imagine the problem – light is left over from the last century, when British brewers were asked to brew weaker beer to conserve ingredients in the post war period, as well as to stop the workforce turning up drunk. Light is getting harder to find here now,  it’s only available in a small minority of pubs.”


In this case the term ‘light’ applies to the gravity (alcohol content) of the beer but not the color. In the US we commonly associate light colored beers with a low gravity, and darker beers with a higher gravity.  We would also associate a session beer with a light colored beer. A session beer being one you can drink 4-5 of in an evening and not get bloated or tired of the flavor.  Scottish Light is dark colored, low alcohol, and easy drinking. Sounds like a summer stout or porter to me.   It would be an interesting challenge to get the flavor balance right, and still have a dark color.

Interestingly enough, some commercial breweries are trying similar things out, like Full Sail’s Black Session Lager (which happens to be a Czech style dark lager). Deschutes even made a Black IPA this year.

There is definitely a lot of room in the US for experimentation with the Scottish Light style.   Thank you Niall for writing in!

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