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The Scottish call it ‘wee heavy,’ and it’s an ideal beer for these grey, cold, rainy days when spring still feels a long way away.

The folks at Guelph’s Royal City Brewing must have had miserable March weather in mind when they concocted their take on the traditional scotch ale style – a rich, malty, sweet, caramel-infused beer that has a distant smokey flavour.

I picked up a growler of the seasonal beer direct from the brewery ($16 for a 1.9-litre jug), after sampling it on location. This Royal City version of that staple of Scottish pubs is cloudy and deep amber in colour, kind of like a glass of iced tea.

I had gone to the brewery hoping to get a growler of their Juice Wayne IPA, but it was sold out (here’s hoping they make more, and soon). But the Ward Heavy, named after the Guelph working-class neighbourhood where the brewery is based, was a pleasant consolation prize.

Scotch ales are kind of like the IPA of the malty world. They’re typically boiled longer in the kettle, which caramelizes the wort and bumps up the alcohol content (this one comes in at 6 per cent ABV). The brewers at Royal City say they use only British Isles hopes and malt to make this beer, which is kinda cool, too.

As someone who generally likes drier beers, I found it sweet without being too sweet, and mildly boozy without it being overpowering. In all, a very nice brew.

What the brewery says:

A scottish wee heavy by style, this deep amber ale is made entirely of UK malts and hops. Strong, assertive, and a little rough around the edges it’s just like the Ward, the part of Guelph we call home.