Scottish beers

The shilling categories were based on price charged per hogshead (54 Imperial gallons) during the nineteenth century. The stronger or better quality beers cost more. The same shilling designation was used for beer of totally different types. Usher’s, for example, in 1914 brewed both a 60/- Mild and a 60/- Pale Ale.[14] In 1909 Maclay brewed a 54/- Pale Ale and a 54/- Stout.[15] In 1954 Steel Coulson were still producing both a 60/– Edinburgh Ale and 60/– Brown Ale on draught, both with a gravity of 1030; the third draught beer was 70/– P.X.A. at 1034.[16] Customers would ask for a strength of beer by names such as “heavy” and “export”. The terms export and heavy are still widely used in Scotland. Even though the practice of classifying beers by the shilling price was not specific to Scotland, during the cask ale revival in the 1970s Scottish brewers resurrected the shilling names to differentiate between keg and cask versions of the same beers. This differentiation has now been lost.While the shilling names were never pinned down to exact strength ranges, and Scottish brewers today produce beers under the shilling names in a variety of strengths, it was largely understood that:

Light (60/-) was under 3.5% abv

Heavy (70/-) was between 3.5% and 4.0% abv

Export (80/-) was between 4.0% and 5.5% abv

Wee heavy (90/-) was over 6.0% abv

(/- is read as “shilling” or “bob” as in “a pint of eighty-bob, please”. The “/-” was the symbol used for “shillings exactly”, that is, shillings and zero pence, in the pre- decimal £sd British currency, so the names are read as “60 (or 70 or 80) shilling (or bob) ale”. Although it was more normal to express values over £1 in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, which would give, in this example, £3, £3-10-0 (spoken as “three pound ten”) or £4, the use of values in shillings and pence only was somewhat more common than saying 300p, 350p and 400p in decimal £p currency. See also solidus.) The wee heavy has become the standard Scottish-style brew in the United States, and many brewers are now using peated malts in the recipes. This, however, is ahistorical.