Monday, March 10, 2014

Beer Ads in Oshkosh: Scotch Ale by the Cask at Evans & Co.

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London porter* wasn’t the only beer of foreign origin flowing into Oshkosh in the 1850s. Ale from Scotland was also pouring over the lips of discerning beer drinkers in the Sawdust City. Take a look at this one...

This is an ad for Evans & Co. that appeared in the Oshkosh Daily Courier on Friday, October 13, 1854. Among other accessories of the good life, Evans is hawking Scotch Ale “by the cask or dozen” to wholesalers or anyone else interested in getting their hands on some strong beer.

The Evans of Evans & Co. was John Evans who operated a saloon and liquor shop in the mid-1850s at the corner of Ferry (now Main) and Otter streets. The Scotch Ale Evans was selling must have done all right for him. He kept it in stock for the next two years. At the time, Scottish beer was in vogue.

By the 1850s, Scotland had become an important brewing center. The Scots were making all sorts of beers, from blistering IPAs to low-gravity milds, but the style that became synonyms with Scotland was, of course, Scotch Ale. Scottish brewers were exporting their eponymous brew just about everywhere during the 1850s and Oshkosh got her share.

So what was the Scotch Ale at the Evans stand like? Well, if it was a typical Scotch Ale of the period - and it very probably was - it would have been quite strong; probably around 7-9% ABV. It would have been mildly hopped, relatively pale, and a rather heavy beer with a low degree of attenuation. Basically, a rich, malty brew with plenty of heft. Sounds good to me.

Come to think of it, that description isn’t too far off from Caber Tossing Scottish Ale; one of the mainstay Fox River Brewing beers at Fratellos in Oshkosh. Caber Tossing, though, would be a shade darker and less alcoholic at 6.2% ABV. Apparently, we’ve had a taste for this sort of brew in Oshkosh for ages.

*For the porter side of the story in Oshkosh, go HERE.

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