April 2, 2009

Session #26: Smoke 'Em if Ya Got 'Em

This month's topic for The Session, as ordained by Lew Bryson and his blog Seen Through a Glass, is Smoked beers. What timing! My friend Chris and I recently embarked on our homebrewing odysseys, and this crazy mofo opts to brew a smoked golden ale for his second batch. (I employed lactose and coffee beans in mine, so I can't throw stones.) But he got the idea from a beer he found in my fridge while subletting my pad. It was Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen, my favorite smoked beer, and he enjoyed the smoky goodness, too, clearly. No beer pairs better with a bacon cheeseburger! That was the Rauchbier that got me started on my love of smoked beers, that led to this exchange of comments on Lew's blog:

Brian Yaeger said...
I think it's funny that I don't go gaga over DIPAs or sour beers, but I love 'em smoked. This is the style Session I've been waiting for, and will bust out a veritable parade so smokey, it'll make the Bandit, the Bear, and Cheech & Chong jealous.

Lew Bryson said...
There, you lazy boogers: Brian's going to do multiple smokers!

In honor of this Session and to warm us up for his brew, he invited a bunch of people over for tastings and anything related to bacon. Chris planned for the event a cornucopia of smokers, figuring our local bottle haven, City Beer, prob'ly stocked a ton. Try one. At least at the moment. He found another and I brought over 4. Let's just get to the list and I'll explain.

1. Einenbahn Defumada:  This is a smoked lager from Brazil (defumada means "smoke" in Portugese), which we enjoyed with some freshly made chicarones. I believe Jesse referred to them as "pork-flavored cotton candy," the way the spiced, fried rinds melted on your tongue. What I like about this rauchbier is that the light body provides a good platform for the smoke flavor and aroma.

2. Alaskan Smoked Porter-2008: I actually brought over 3 years worth to conduct a vertical tasting (2006-08)... and was advised to stow them away! What, what? Basically, between all the beers we had (some, gasp, unsmoked) and the fact that one was a DD and the other, who shall remain nameless, just isn't that big a fan OF THE MOST MEDALLED BEER IN ALL OF GABF HISTORY, 18 in all, including this beauty of a 2006 that I've been bogarting and took home Best Aged Beer at last year's GABF. (I was also advised to bring them to a beer dinner later this month.) Though we were still in the appetizer phase, we drank the '08 with Vosges bacon-chocolate bar. Truly the perfect pairing. The creamy porter and milk chocolate go hand in hand with Alaskan's alderwood smoked malts and the chocolate's applewood smoked bacon and alderwood smoked salt.

3. Stone Smoked Porter: We poured this with dinner of pork soup dumplings from Chris's favorite joint in his hood, Shanghai Dumplings. I like this porter, but it's mellower on the smoke and simply presents more roasted coffee than smoked salmon like Alaskan's. Having said that, I'm dying to try their Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans when I'm down in Escondido in a couple weeks!! That's my only problem with porters is that they are too heavy to highlight the added flavors. This is why my favorite bourbon barrel aged beers are paler ales rather than bass-heavy porters. (Because this is a blog post about rauchbiers, I won't get into the Bourbon County Stout we had for dessert.)

4. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock. Our 4th and final rauchbier. I had this in the chiller of my Beeradise. Because I always go for the Bamburger Marzen, I figured I'd try the Urbock. Mistake. I expected the massive bouquet of bacon that I love so much, but received a more reserved peaty, ashy odor and charcoal briquets in the flavor. Oddly, the very thing that makes Defumada work is what holds this smoked Urbock back, but I'm comparing it to a different beer. 

All in all, we were thoroughly smoked out. I can't wait to try Chris's smoky homebrew. I'd give anything for another bottle of O'Fallon Smoke like I found in Chicago. And I'd give double-anything to try New Glarus's Smoke on the Porter. But until then, I still have a small ASP vertical to look forward to. And that will be a blog post in and of itself.


Brian Yaeger said...

Just found this cool-sounding book all about smoked beers. Not how to brew them, just about its origins and modern brands. Very niche audience for a whole book, but hey, sounds good to me:

Presley Harper said...

Nice bllog