Beer 101 - Scottish Ale

Beer 101

Scotland is a country, not a beer style, and as a country, had as robust and widely varied a brewing history as its neighbors, much to the contrary of easily found notes on the subject. And so it is with great chagrin and sheepishness that we must present to you a list of lies about Scottish beer... and then leave you to the hours or days of reading it takes to explain each point, if you care that much about the history at all. 

LIES: 
Scottish and Scotch ale are two different styles.
Scottish ales are low in hops.
 Variatons of the former: Scottish ales are low in hops because hops did not grow well/were taxed more/were all imported from the hated English, etc.
 Scottish ales were boiled for a very long time, leading to increased kettle caramelization.
 Scottish ale was divided into styles based on their prices: 60/70/80/90 shilling. (while this shorthand did occur, this was only related to the strength, not the style, and even that was widely varied). Scottish ale was always/was never brewed with smoked malt (there is evidence that peat was in fact used to kiln the malt, but this would only apply to some maltsters and not to imported malt). TRUTH: Scotland produced porters, stouts, IPAs, bitters, etc., not just one style. Scotland had a slightly cooler climate than England, so beers fermented in Scotland did tend to be fermented a bit cooler (5-10 degrees, perhaps) and so were less estery, generally, than their English counterparts. But as far as a style labeled "Scottish Ale?" Well, if someone like Belhaven uses it, it simply means an Ale from Scotland. If an American brewer uses it, there's no telling. You could get a rauchbier or a sweet brown ale, or even a hoppy brown ale. The only beer that seems to be particularly Scottish in nature is a very defined style: "Wee Heavy."