Black Flannel Academy

Stormin’ the Castle

Stormin’ the Castle Scotch Ale. Brewed in memory of Deb Kesler’s brother Scott Lawrence, this beer has a strong copper color, the aroma and flavor are bursting with burnt caramel, sugary toffee candy, and dried fruits like dates and raisins, balanced by alcohol warmth more than hop bitterness.

Background

(Written by Chris Kesler 1/24/21)

This brew holds special personal meaning to me.  More on that later but first, a little about the style.  

Scotch Ale (or Wee Heavy) is one of the most decadent malt showcases you’ll find in a beer. Ours is the evolution of a pilot batch brewed in 2015.  It is crafted with carefully chosen malts that give a traditional biscuity malt backbone, with additions of toasty kilned & caramelized malts for a deeper base malt complexity. We use traditional English hops for a touch of balancing bitterness.

We have a complete blog post on the style if you would like more in-depth information  https://www.blackflannel.com/scotch-ale/

Why so personal?

I recently came across a brew log that tracked the details for the first 50 batches of beer I brewed.  A few items of significance I found:

  1. I started brewing on the day I turned 50
  2. The first 50 batches I brewed were assisted by my brother-in-law (my friend) Scott Lawrence
  3. The 7th batch we brewed together was a Scotch Ale that Scott wanted to brew for his Tennis teammate Chris Hayward (from Scotland and was about to turn 70)
  4. We brewed this Scotch Ale on Scott’s 44th birthday – the beer turned out great!  Our scotsman Chris loved it so much he asked us to brew another batch.
  5. Scott and I brewed an American Stout with Coffee together that aged for 2 years and took the best of show prize at a local home-brew competition in the fall of 2017
  6. After brewing countless variations of IPA’s, in the early fall of 2016, Scott and I brewed an early pilot batch of what would eventually become Disco Montage.  Unfortunately, Scott never got to try it.

As cruel fate would have it, Scott had an undiagnosed bicuspid heart valve and combined with other emerging conditions resulted in a fatal heart attack in October 2016.  

Scott put a lot of love and a little humor into everything he did.  Here is the label he created for the special Scotch Ale birthday brew. 

Two of Scott’s favorite movies were Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the Princess Bride.  They also happen to be two of the most quoted movies… EVER.  Whenever we’d part ways after a week, a day, or even a few hours together, he’d say “Have Fun Stormin’ the Castle”.  (That or “Come back, I’ll bite your legs off!”).  On our anniversary in 2015, Scott gave Deb and I these Coffee Mugs. 

Scott loved gaming.  He was an avid D&D player most of his life and he got my sons (Ethan and Jared) into gaming who are still avid D&D players today (check out one of Ethan’s tattoos – a D&D, D20 die inspired by his Uncle Scott).

As a tribute to Scott, we evolved the original recipe Scott and I brewed together to create a new and wonderful, but true to tradition, example of the Scotch Ale beer style.  I love this beer.  Scott’s sister Deb (my wife and Black Flannel Brewing Co. Director of Accounting) came up with the name for this beer.  Considering his love for D&D, movies, and fun send-offs, it felt perfect.

All roads lead somewhere.  When I look back, I can see that all roads have led me to where I am now and the people I’ve met along the way have all shaped the decisions I’ve made.  You can see the profound impact that some people have on you and without them, your life would have turned out much different.  Scott was one of those people.  Without the passion for brewing that Scott shared with me between Feb 2015 and October 2016, and his subsequent and sudden passing, Black Flannel Brewing Co. would not exist today.  Life is too short and it’s never too late to pursue your passion.

Raise a glass knowing that somewhere, Scott has a glass of Scotch Ale in his hand while he himself, is Stormin’ the Castle.