Tinnitus Scottish Light Ale

Scotch-soaked oak burnishes this sweet Scottish ale with a patina of vanilla.
  • Grain bill:  Golden Promise, Munich, Honey Malt
  • Hops:  East Kent Goldings
  • Yeast:  Omega Scottish Ale OYL-015
  • Secret ingredients:  Scotch-Soaked Oak Spirals


Origin Story:

Jumble and Eric driving

Jumble, the dog who could drive a car

This wasn’t meant to be an obituary, but on the day this was written (8 August 2021) we had to put down our Goldendoodle Jumble, in whose honor Tinnitus was named.

We adopted Jumble in 2007, shortly before we moved to China.  He was an incredibly proud little guy, with a strut that told you he just KNEW he was really a golden retriever, and our loyal companion for over 14 years.  In recent months he started to go physically, and today he woke up confused, uncoordinated, and agitated.  He wanted to go, and it was as peaceful an end as one could hope.

But man, did that guy have a bark.  If it was time for him to eat breakfast, he wanted to make sure everyone in the house knew it.  Better if the neighbors were put on notice as well.  It could be hard to think if Jumble had gotten himself on a roll.  Hence:  Tinnitus.

HLH Pale Ale

I had wanted to experiment with oaking my beer and a Scottish Ale seemed the right vehicle to do so.  (Beer nerds will tell you that Scottish Ale has nothing to do with incorporating scotch, peat, or wood into the beer.  I will acknowledge that this is true if they acknowledge that I don’t care.)   This also gave me an opportunity to play with decoction, a process where you remove portions of the mash and boil it in order to amp up the complexity of the malt flavor.  This is a sweet beer, with a lot of vanilla coursing through it, and a very limited hop profile.  A lovely counterpoint to spicy food.

The label art is an homage to the HLH label I put together for my very first brew, back in 1996.  That label used a graphic I stole from the New Yorker; I thought it would be fun to have Laura adapt it for the new theme.  Putting the cymbals in Jumble’s paws gave the my good boy agency.  Making his victim a Scotsman pulled the package together.  RIP, little guy – I expect you’re keeping them awake somewhere in the afterlife.

Music Pairing:

Don’t look for this on iTunes.  Don’t look for this on Spotify.  In fact, don’t look for it at all—it probably doesn’t even exist.

I first heard about LMP from a Pitchfork News item about their Century of Song project.  Eventually released as a 6-CD box set, in this album LMP cover one song from every year of the 20th century—not the best song, or the most representative song—just a song, in styles that range from straightforward to wildly inappropriate.  1902’s “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home” done as a 1990’s Madchester raveup.  1922’s “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” remade/remodeled as a Roxy Music tune.  1958’s “Yakety Yak” as Slow Train Coming-era Bob Dylan fronting the Chuck E. Cheese band.  A 1969 “Stars on 45”-type medley, complete with disco handclaps, starting with “Sugar Sugar” and meandering its way along to “Oh Yoko!” and “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down”.  And so on.

This smartass, deeply-informed, well-executed music nerd shit was of course catnip to me, and I fell down the LMP hole, grabbing everything released by their record label Polyholiday (which appears to bear the same relationship to legitimate existence as HLH Yeastworks).  LMP’s two albums of originals, Aunt Canada and Love Conquers Alda, are minor pop-culture-damaged masterpieces.

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