BrewDog – Paradox Smokehead (bottle) – 3.5 out of 7

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Here’s a paradox, I cannot recommend this beer, but I want another. I originally had BrewDog Paradox Smokehead a looong time ago, and was the first documented smokebeer reviewed on SmokeBeerMinistry (see here), and the results were similar. But this time, I’m at least interested enough to keep thinking about it.

The brewers at BrewDog, in collaboration with the team at Smokehead Scotch whiskey makers, put this Paradox smokebeer together a few years back, and now have made it onto this site (I’m sure they’re thrilled). I was a little nervous about how this was going to pan out with the pour so void of carbonation, but lifting the bottle above the glass a good foot or so as I poured, agitated the beer enough to develop the bit of suds seen in the pic. And the smell was loaded with scotch whiskey and barrel notes, but not so much smoke. And on the first sip I noticed that this was loaded with booze, leaving a warm sensation on the back of my throat, a nice consolation given that the barrel and heavy peat scotch were doing all the driving on my palate. Do you know peat? Peat is the mud substance with rotting weeds, roots, and fibers in it, all matted down for centuries, and then dried and used as fuel for heat as well as for smoking malts for eccentric beer brewers. Paradox and Smokehead have used peat smoked malts which makes for extremely earthy and scotch flavors in this beer. I had a hard time getting into this beer, even at a warmer than normal temperature (but colder than the room temperature recommendation given by BrewDog). I feel like I should like this beer, but since this beer has been discontinued, I doubt I’ll find it again. I’m sure that if BrewDog liked it more, they would’ve kept making it. That’s all I have to say. Final smokestack rating = 3.5 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Brew Dog
Beer Name Paradox Smokehead
Brewer’s Description This latest edition – Paradox Smokehead  (10% abv) – has already sent a wave of excitement across the beer world with fans of the award winning stout predicting great things from the new partnership. The smooth, robust stout has been completely infused with the Atlantic smoke, heavy peat, vanilla oak and balancing fruit and honey flavours of the powerful Smokehead whisky to deliver a deliciously complex flavour.
Food Pairings Meat shanks
Brewer Location Ellon, Scotland
Alcohol content by volume 10%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.75
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3.5 (7 out of 7 in scotchwhiskey smells)
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 7
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3.5

The website is a little hard to follow, but it works:

https://www.brewdog.com/usa/lowdown/blog/paradox-smokehead

And Smokehead:

https://smokehead.com/

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Off Color Brewing – Class War – 5.5 smokestacks out of 7

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This beer is good. A group out of Chicago called Off Color Brewing whipped this one up and were sure to pack in all the necessary ingredients to set this off right. This beer called Class War could benefit from hitting the crop feature before printing the next batch of labels, although given that this beer is a Gotlandsdricka style beer, in a champagne bottle, and found priced and placed among other craft beer collections, I wouldn’t expect the benefits to be all that pronounced, but it couldn’t hurt. A Gotlandsdricka beer is a smoky ale, historically from the Swedish island Gotland, and brewed with juniper berries. Leaving Class War as a dark, but not too cloudy, robust smoky beer. This beer reminds me of an imperial porter but with less beer flavors and more sweet and spicy hints. It’s interesting because the 9.5% abv is well hidden, I find it thirst quenching without thinking that it’s watery, and the flavors are just a little off center enough to throw off my palate. And that’s enough intrigue to get me on board with this beer and this brewery. And I really like honey, although I would have never known that it was an ingredient. I’m looking forward to trying Off Color’s 15 Feet beer, which is also smoked, so look for that review to crop up sometime. Overall smokestack rating = 5.5 smokestacks.

Brewer off color brewing
Beer Name Class War
Brewer’s verbose Description Gotlandsdricka, or Gotlandsdricke, is the indigenous farmhouse ale of Gotland, the largest island in Sweden. A cousin to the Finnish Sahti, it’s similarly kept alive by a handful of old men and very much in danger of dying off with them. Was taught how to make it by the head brewer at Nårke over the course of several, several beers where he made me run through several books he had with him a the bar despite the fact that a) they were in Swedish b) there were no pictures and c) I don’t speak Swedish. Undeterred, he carried on and felt it was very important to discuss the tradition of brewing dricke and also that there are different sexes of juniper trees.                                                                                             Our version is deeply spicy with both malted and unmalted rye and a hefty addition of juniper but, while rich, finishes dry and fruity thanks to a large honey addition and a portion of malt Dave smoked by hand over pear wood in the backyard. ABV is deceptive and balances against the stonefruit sweetness of dark munich. At 9.5% it should leave you well prepared for the brave new world we’re heading into or at least blissfully despondent. Just remember, vikings didn’t have health insurance either. Gonna go ahead and guess lots of us won’t anymore, so we have priced Class War accordingly. Brewing for the proletariat.
Food Pairings Deep dish or Chicago Style or Chicago style deep dish or a hotdog with tomatoes on it… Actually, just stick with pizza.
Brewer Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 9.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) I’m thinking it doesn’t have a rating
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5.75
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.5

More about what a Gotlandsdricka beer is can be found at Wiki-somethin’another:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotlandsdricka

Off Color’s website’s OK, and they emphasize their core competency (beer making), which is good:

http://www.offcolorbrewing.com/beer/

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Left Hand Brewing – Smoke Jumper (draft) – 5 out of 7 smokestacks

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Found this on tap. I remember having this in a 22oz bomber a few years back, and I liked it enough to have picked up a few more since then. One bottle happens to be in my bunker right now. So finding this on tap for the first time was a pleasant surprise. And the near 10% abv which I had forgotten about was a pleasant surprise as well, so I had two. If you would like a reminder on how that review went back in 2014, check here. And if Left Hand Brewery would like a reminder of how this beer was received, they should check here too, because for some reason, their administrator has expunged this concoction from their website. I had this Smoke Jumper beer on my way to a movie with a friend, and the only thing I can remember about the movie is where it was screened, but the title and any memory about what I saw is gone. I sure remember this beer though. Sweet, not too smoky, booze hidden in the caramel, sugars, and malt flavors, and the price and size of the pour were robust (but not really an attribute of the beer or brewery, but positives for me nonetheless). There’s something in here that makes me think I taste peat, but it’s at just the right mild intensity to convince me to like it. If you can find this beer, buy it and drink it. Overall smokestack rating = 5 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Left Hand Brewing Co.
Beer Name Smoke Jumper                        smoked imperial porter
Brewer’s Description A tribute to men who parachute into a fiery wilderness so we can enjoy it. This 21 degree plato porter made with barley malt hand-smoked by our brewers. Roasty brown in color, the long lingering smokiness wraps around notes of molasses, toasted malt, and an earthy hoppiness.
Food Pairings Chocolate, BBQ, Beef, Smoked meats, grilled meats.
Brewer Location Longmont, CO
Alcohol content by volume 9.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 50
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4.75
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5

I have feelings about this website, ambivalent feelings.

http://lefthandbrewing.com

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De Molen – Spanning & Sensatie – 5 out of 7 smokestacks

IMG_20180723_214429.jpgThis is the final of 5 De Molen beer reviews, completing Tabernacle Takeover month with a respectable entrant, Spanning & Sensatie (Excitement & Sensation literally, Thrills and Spills in meaning). This beer is a solid smoked beer, with some bitter ashes, fleeting chocolate, and just a wee bit of heat which builds up slightly before the beer is done. This beer delivers what I must describe as that element that only De Molen can deliver, its a flavor that is distinct in all five of the DM beers I’ve had this month, and its the inarticulate nature of my mind grapes that drives me to invent the word DeMoleny. Out of the world’s upper echelon brewers, of which De Molen resides, Spanning, and pretty much everything else smoked that we’ve had, are in the middle of the road of the upper echelon. Like someone on the all-star team, but only used as an alternate. Or a world class dual citizen soccer player who has to choose the less competitive country to play for in the World Cup. It was a fun month, and expensive too. No ragrets. Maybe I’ll take next week off. Final smoke metric = 5 smokestacks.

Brewer De Molen
Beer Name Spanning & Sensatie
Brewer’s Description Spanning & Sensatie was intended to thrill your taste buds. We tried to achieve this by adding cacao, chili peppers and salt to an already powerful imperial stout. Have fun. Flavor indication: cacao, chocolate, chili, salt. Translates as Excitement & Sensation or in meaning Thrills & Spills.
Food Pairings Gourmet hamburgers
Brewer Location Bodegraven, Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 9.8%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 61 EBU
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6.1 (314 EBC)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3.4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4.85
Spiciness 1 – 7 (mild – painful) 2.1
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5

Here’s their homepage:

http://brouwerijdemolen.nl/en/

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De Molen – Hemel & Aarde – 5.85 smokestacks out of 7

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Hemel & Aarde (Heaven & Earth) smells like the best smokebeer that I’ve had come from De Molen to date. As we continue tabernacle takeover month with De Molen Brouwerij and their host of beers that taste smoky, we find this beer, Hemel & Aarde offering a solid peaty, smoked imperial stout, that I had to open prior to the 25 year “enjoy by” expiration date. I think I just may buy this one again and stash it away for a quarter century and see what kind of sludge comes out… stay tuned for that post in the fall of 2043. And speaking of aging, SmokeBeerMinistry doesn’t promote this practice, in fact, we kind of think its silly, and yet we do it anyway in very limited quantities. Plenty of smoke, peat, and sweet rich malt notes wafting around, but then the taste goes and takes a left turn. The taste is peat forward, with a scotch highball chasing right behind. And I swear I taste barrel in this, which must be coming from the scotch and not a barrel, because this was never in a barrel, although De Molen does make a BA variant of this beer. This beer never wavers from a rich persons beer flavor with a touch of bitter tart and dryness on the back of the throat. I like it. Overall score = 5.85 smokestacks.

Brewer De Molen
Beer Name Hemel & Aarde
Brewer’s Description Hemel & Aarde is brewed with the most heavily peated malts we could find. Not for the fainthearted. This powerful brew overwhelms you with smoke, chocolate and coffee. Flavour indication: smoke, chocolate, coffee Translates as Heaven & Earth
Food Pairings Pot roast, potatoes, desserts
Brewer Location Bodegraven, Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 10.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 108 EBU
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.6 (394 EBC)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 6
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 6
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.85

Good Website:

http://brouwerijdemolen.nl/beers

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De Molen – Bloed, Zweet & Tranen – 5.75 smokestacks out of 7

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De Molen tabernacle takeover month continues with this angelically aromatic beer! Smoky. Like a full on rauchbier, which really is the main direction that SmokeBeerMinistry is driving at; think campfires, charcoal grills, and smokehouses. Although there are some beers with a low smoke profile that score high, the campfire smoky flavor almost always catapults the score well above average. Bloed, Zweet, & Tranen beer by De Molen Brouwerij is a good example of a good beer by a great brewery, who would benefit by focusing on filtering and/or minimizing the particles floating around inside their beers. I don’t mind a little silt here and there in unpasteurized, unfiltered beers, but that changes the product over time, and it might help the customer if they knew what they were going to get before opening. This beer had tons of flakes all swirling around in there. Plus, carbonation really starts to fade after a few years, and these De Molen beers are such slow movers on liquor store shelves, that it’s rare to find anything younger that 3 years old. This sweet and smoky stout delivers the personification of a rich person drinking from a snifter, although I only have this shaker glass to drink from. I didn’t get any chocolate or coffee notes out of this, just rich smoke, sugar, and a touch of peat in there. I would like to drink this again, perhaps something right out of the brewery, but I’m not too keen on paying another $8+ for a gamble on something that may have gone awry in the bottle. Bloed, Zweet, & Tranen is sweet, smoky, good. Overall smokestack metric = 5.75 smokestacks

Brewer De Molen
Beer Name Bloed, Zweet, & Tranen
Brewer’s Description Bloed, Zweet & Tranen is not for those looking for something easy. Heavily smoked, loads of chocolate and roasted malts. Yet a beer you can still enjoy all evening long. Flavourindication: Smoke, chocolate, roasted malts. Translates as Blood Sweat & Tears
Food Pairings Pecan pie, Smoked almonds or pistachios, digestifs
Brewer Location Bodegraven, the Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 8.2%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 29 EBU
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.8 (EBC 169)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 6.7
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 6
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.75

Here’s there website:

http://brouwerijdemolen.nl/beers

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De Molen – Hel & Verdoemenis – 5.5 smokestacks

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Smells like good beer. Although I saw a few globs of somethin’ anuther’ flop down into my glass when it was poured, it smelled alright… I’m pretty sure I say “it smells alright” before I eat something way too often, let’s assume this is not one of those questionable instances that goes horribly awry. Hel & Verdoemenis (which translates to Hell & Damnation) by the brewers at De Molen is apparently the little brother beer to last weeks De Molen Heaven and Hell beer. Both beers seem to form translucent congealed globs in the bottom of the bottle, so I guess this should start to become expected, although I’ll never condone this happening. As far as what a smoked imperial stout aged in scotch whiskey barrels should taste like, SmokeBeerMinistry will point to this final product as a good example. I would ask De Molen to rethink the “enjoy within 25 years” statement printed on many labels that have gone out, but it seems that it has already been removed, perhaps because of the peculiar formations down in there? As for the taste, I taste whiskey, chocolate, smoke, peat, lots of booze, along with a slight sour stinging bitterness that only a barrel can impart, and I like it. The score would have been in the +6 area had the consistency held on, but the globs bumped into my lips towards the bottom of my glass so I had to bump the score down a notch. I’m glad to report that the De Molen Brouwerij that I know exists has delivered a beer of their caliber, if only they would go a little farther. Overall score = 5.5 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Brouwerij De Molen
Beer Name Hel & Verdoemenis
Brewer’s Description We were looking forward to this beer…and it turned out we were right to. With 11% ABV it’s a strong beer for beerlovers that enjoy their peated flavors. The original bitter coffee and chocolate flavors of Hel & Verdoemenis (translates as Hell & Damnation) are enriched with the peat, woody, roasty tastes of the exceptional Scottish Barley Whiskey Barrels. Warming and powerful. Bitter, roasted, chocolate, coffee. All times 2. It’s this why it’s our Flag Ship and best selling Imperial Stout.
Food Pairings Pair with desserts
Brewer Location Bodegraven, Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 11%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) mass spectrometry 102 EBU
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 7 (297 EBC)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 7+
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.5

Here’s a link to the De Molen website list of beers:

http://brouwerijdemolen.nl/beers

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De Molen – Heaven & Hell – 3.5 out of 7 smokestacks

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August is tabernacle takeover month for Brouwerij De Molen starting with Heaven & Hell. This boozy, dark, and thick (too thick) monster grew into something well beyond the intentions of De Molen. “Smoked” seen in the ingredients listed on the bottle was all it took to bring in this beast which was supported by the added comfort that the De Molen brand brings with all of their concoctions. De Molen is one of the very few organizations that SmokeBeerMinistry allows to continue to employ the scatter gun technique when delivering beers to the market, and with this beer in particular, they seem to have switched up the formula at least 3 times. This behavior makes me wonder, “How happy was De Molen with the first attempts? and Why did you sell it to the public if it wasn’t good enough then?” Their informative website shows a long list of just about every kind of beer under the sun, and typically, De Molen delivers products that are top notch. Now in this case, they weren’t so successful. Upon opening this beer, slight smoky smells wafted out on the backs of sweet berry scents. And speaking of berries, four or five blueberry sized globs of what I hope were congealed beer plopped down into my glass as well (was gelatin an unlisted ingredient?). I have enough respect for De Molen to drink this beer anyway, no matter how unappetizing this occurrence was; respect, it was respect, not alcoholism. And the lack of depth that my light can penetrate this fluid is enough to garner 7 out of 7 smokestacks of darkness, and of course, thickness was a 7+. The taste was of a musty, ashy, coffee beer with redeeming milk chocolate flavors in there, and a touch of smoke. And that’s about where this review is going to end. This particular rendition of this beer earned 3.5 smokestacks out of a total of 7 possible smokestacks, a glob below average. I’m eager to experience a redemption beer.

Brewer De Molen
Beer Name Heaven & Hell
Brewer’s Description Although hard to comprehend for many, this is the big brother of Hel & Verdoemenis. With loads of dark malts in both back and foreground, supported by strong but smooth bitterness from hops and roasted malts. Flavor indication: chocolate, coffee, toast
Food Pairings Pie
Brewer Location Bodegraven, Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 10.2%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) mass spectrometry suggests 92.5 EBU
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 7 (494 EBC)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 7+
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3.5

They have a useful website nowadays, and a label that indicates a 3rd change to the formula of this “same” beer:

http://brouwerijdemolen.nl/beers

The Shelton Brothers say that this beer will last 25 years, and also show an ingredients list neglecting smoked malts:

https://www.sheltonbrothers.com/beers/heaven-hell/

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Bell’s – Black Note Stout – 5 out of 7 smokestacks

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What’s all the brouhaha about this one? It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I must report that this beer does not bring anything new to the table that any number of barrel aged stouts deliver. In my world, this Black Note Stout by Bells is harder to find than Bourbon County or KBS, which are the only other rare beers that I’ve ever been able to wrangle in. I’ve seen Black Note Stout 3 times in my life, once for $6, once for $10, and once for $20 per 12 oz bottle, I bought it the first two times. And now that I’ve had one, I’m fairly glad I was able to utilize some restraint. This beer smells like super strong familiarity. And it tastes like it was made with chocolate malts, roasted malts, and put in a barrel, which is Bell’s intention, but I wanna know about the brouhaha. I guess you can’t control the masses, especially when they are infatuated with your beer, and that is a good place to be. Maybe the 11.2% abv is giving them a bump? It sure helped my day. But there are others out there. If you like barrel aged, thick as Hershey’s syrup, stouts, you’ll like this beer. Bells seems to encourage shelfing this beer for an undetermined amount of time, maybe you could try that. Until then, Black Note Stout gets 5 out of 7 non-smokebeer smokestacks.

Beer Name Black Note Stout
Brewer’s Description One of the most sought-after stouts in Bell’s history, Black Note Stout blends the complex aromatics of Expedition Stout with the velvety smooth texture of Double Cream Stout, each aged in freshly retired oak bourbon barrels for months. The resulting harmony of flavors captures the finest features of all three components: malty notes of dark chocolate, espresso and dried fruits, all buoyed by the warmth and fragrance of the bourbon barrel. Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark.
Food Pairings Smoked Brisket, dark chocolate
Brewery Location Comstock, MI
Alcohol content by volume 11.2%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) na
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6.85
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks chocolate
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 7
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 7
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

Good website:

https://www.bellsbeer.com/beer/specialty/black-note

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Sprecher Brewing – Acapulco Golden Ale – 3 smokestacks out of 7

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Idunno, maybe I liked this one more than I thought that I did. Although the final score of 3 seemed like I was entirely too generous when reviewing what I jotted down after the fact, I’m not going to step in later on down the road and beat these folks down any more just because I feel differently now. Oh no, I have to stick to my guns. I said 3, and 3 it is. Sprecher is a fairly well respected Wisconsin brewery that seems to cater to mother in laws more so than beer nerds, which is fine. At least I know what I’m going to get, a standardized, non-offensive, run of the mill beer selection. And the cokes they make are great. Grape, Orange, Red sodas, a regular ole’ Root Beer, and other flavors seem to crop up at all the cool sandwich shops and lunch counters around WI. I like to get them. And I like easy drinking beers for the beach, especially when I’m on the beach. Acapulco Golden Ale fits that genre. And this beer was beyond highly touted by several employees of the Sprecher pub and restaurant establishment where I got this beer, which actually made me think that they must want to get this keg emptied as fast as they can. But the smoked hops acted as the closer to get this one in the tabernacle. Described by the waiter as “like a Bud Light Lime” I honestly thought it tasted more like a Zima Gold, if that was the tequila flavored swill from the 90’s that I drank when I was discovering alcohol (and shoulder tapping), although there was plenty of lime flavor in this beer. Well anyway, I gotta wrap this up, I got a meeting to go to. A hint of smoked anything is an overstatement. A 3 out of 7 smokestacks is a plenty good score for a beer that isn’t even offered or listed on their website anymore. And I wonder why Sprecher’s restaurants aren’t doing any better? I want to applaud this company but they seem to forever dwell on the fringe of mediocrity. And one more thing, you gotta see this Zima Gold commercial at the bottom of this page. Yikes!

Brewer Sprecher Brewery
Beer Name Acapulco Golden Ale
Brewer’s Description Mexican-style ale starts crisp and lightly citrus and finishes with a hint of smoked hops.
Food Pairings I had the ribs
Brewer Location Glendale, WI
Alcohol content by volume 5.2
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 23
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) a generous 3, way generous

Sprecher’s brewery website.

https://www.sprecherbrewery.com/

And restaurant:

http://sprecherspub.com/

And yikes!

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Port Huron Brewing – Million Dollar Smoked Maiboch (draft) – 4 smokestacks out of 7

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I did some travelling and got to squeeze in a few impromptu reviews, also, I had to get these typed before I forgetted. Port Huron Brewery, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (I take issue with both names listed above), pieced together this Million Dollar Smoked Maibock for the second time. The first batch was so successful that they made it again, which I read off the menu. And speaking of reading, I had to read the story of the origin of the brewery’s name off the wall with the bartender because she didn’t know why this brewery from Wisconsin Dells was seemingly named after a small town in Michigan (she said it was her second day working there). Together, we learned that Port Huron Steam Traction Engine Company built a 22,000 lb steam engine a long time ago, and somebody who knows somebody who works at this brewery, named the place after this machine. I guess that’s OK. And since we’re learning today; A bock beer is a stronger German ale that apparently translates to the English word goat. And a Maibock is a lighter version of these goat beers. This one in particular is smoked, delivers on the lighter bock agenda, and delivers my palate a number of non-offensive smokebeer flavors. Regardless of my use of redundancies, I’m going to describe this beer as malty, sweet, and smoky (also available on the menu above). Port Huron Brewery was there for me when I sought refuge. During a hike, which is what I do in the Dells when I’m not fraternizing with boat people, I emerged from a woods with no sense of direction, into an industrial zone of sorts, sweating, and with a baby in my arms, I walked into this establishment and drank this smokebeer. Serendipitous. Well, enough of my stories. This beer scored a 4 out of 7 smokestacks. A middle of the road smokebeer. BTW, interesting stuff in the links below.

Brewer Port Huron Brewing
Beer Name Million Dollar Smoked Maibock
Brewer’s Description A collaboration brew between Port Huron Brewing Co. & One Barrel Brewing from Madison. This hefty Maibock is brewed with just the right amount of smoked malt to give it a fantastic smoky nose and the right amount of smoky flavor. Dangerously drinkable! Available in spring for a limited time!
Food Pairings Pub grub, cheese curds, pie
Brewer Location Wisconsin Dells, WI
Alcohol content by volume 7%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) no
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.8
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 4

 

Brewery link:

http://www.porthuronbeer.com/

Tractor info:

http://www.porthuronbeer.com/?page_id=90

Port Huron Statement wiki link, with a Big Lebowski quote and explanation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Huron_Statement

And, different kinds of bock:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bock

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Oliphant Brewing – Smoked Wheat Erryday (can) – 2.5 smokestacks out of 7

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I didn’t like this one. Why? How the hell would I know? Oliphant Brewing dumped so many unusual ingredients into this beer, how would anyone know what went wrong? Version 4.2.0 Smoked Wheat Erryday The Next Pineappisode could be the name of this beer, or maybe just part of that is the name and part is a descriptor, and that smoked wheat ale brewed with pineapple, chipotle peppers, lactose, and citra hops is a more thorough descriptor written just below the title discriptor, blah, blah, blegh. Wit doesn’t make beer taste any better, and if you click on and browse around on their website, you’ll quickly see that this crew needs to focus on making beer, and not attempt anymore comedic stylings. The smoke in this beer is like a Chris Farley in a tiny coat, and I presume they taste about the same. The pineapple and lactose went pretty much incognito, and the chipotle produced enough tingle in my throat to force me to take subsequent sips. And for what? No reward. In fact, I was punished with a whopper hangover the next day and I don’t want to hear about the seven other drinks I had that night as the scapegoat. It was this debacle’s fault. Overall score a generous 2.5 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Oliphant Brewing
Beer Name Smoked Wheat Erryday
Brewer’s Description Version 4.2.0 Smoked Wheat Erryday The Next Pineappisode smoked wheat ale brewed with pineapple, chipotle peppers, lactose, and citra hops
Food Pairings Something spicy, like a burrito from Chipotle
Brewer Location Somerset, WI
Alcohol content by volume 4.9%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) who cares
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Spiciness 1 – 7 (mild – painful) 2
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 2.5

Oliphant Brewing has a verbose website that has forgotten all about this beer (for good reason), and then you get to the picture page, where they take it way too far:

https://www.oliphantbrewing.com/

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Voodoo Brewery – Big Black Voodoo Daddy – 5.75 out of 7

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What’s not to like about Voodoo Brewery? These are the people who brought you Man Bear Pig, a highly sought after rare beer that I’ll almost certainly never have. And these might be the people who drove the secondary price over $400 a bottle, but who cares? It’s not like they’re bringing in Exxon money or anything. First off, roasted is not the same as smoked, and this beer is made with roasted malts, as far as we know. But slight smoke properties do swirl around in this beer. And the name, well, how could it not find its way into the SmokeBeerMinistry tabernacle? My fascination with Voodoo came from annual family summer vacations. With family in and around NOLA, how could my dad resist piling us all up into his station wagon and forcing us to sleep on some random relatives living room floor for a week or two? It was worth it to me if it meant even just one day strolling around the French Quarter. I might make the trip to Pennsylvania to ask Voodoo Brewery what drove their agenda… and demand some Man Bear Pig beer. Big Black Voodoo Daddy does share some flavors with a good number of other imperial stouts, and added about twice the alcohol. The 12% abv is a surprise both when you read it on the label and when you get up after having had one, but its not so noticeable on the palate. The chocolate malts are touted by Voodoo, but really didn’t drive the taste for me, and that’s to its benefit. Nice thick viscous snifter beer for the end of the night, or for after you’ve polished off an entire bottle of wine. I’ll be sure to follow Voodoo for upcoming happenings in the near future, but for now, I’ll stay put on the living room floor and hope I at least make it to the couch before my wife comes down for work tomorrow morning. Final smokestack rating = 5.75 smokestacks.

Brewer Voodoo Brewery
Beer Name Big Black Voodoo Daddy
Brewer’s Description The name says it all. BBVD is our big bad seasonal stout made with copious amounts of chocolate and roasted malts and topped off with the right amount of hops to make it taste like a chocolate bar au natural. Good to drink now or age it to award winning caliber.
Food Pairings Voodoo Brewery probably REALLY wants the food pairing to be gumbo
Brewer Location Meadville, PA
Alcohol content by volume 12.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) some say 74
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.95
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2.25
Sausage detection? Y or N no
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5.5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.75

The website is ok:

http://www.voodoobrewery.com/

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Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or – Charbonnière – 4.8 smokestacks out of 7

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Charbon means charcoal in French, I think. And fume means smoke, maybe. I could ask my fluent wife, but then I’d have to explain why my speech is slurred (because I’m not good at French) and why I’m shirtless and wet all over (I’m inside now, so let’s leave that one alone). Sweet sweet smells in this beer, and I can’t say the same for myself.  This beer, Charbonniere by Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or is an amber beer with smoked malts and it gives you the honest French beer experience. With smoke smells fairly well hidden from the nose do make their grand entrance on the exhale. And this new Bill Nye show on Netflix seems rushed. The bottle says unpasteurized and unfiltered and I believe’em, but other than the cloudiness, I’m not seeing any other signs like a bunch of flakes, floaties, and silt, And that’s good. And this beer is good. So already, we can conclude that this beer will rank above average, above 4. And tonight, this episode of Cheers has a cute little dalmatian on it. And if you follow this blog, you know that my reviewing of the entire series of Cheers is taking longer than it took to watch during it’s original airing. And if you really really follow this beer blog, then my state of sobriety has become abundantly clear. I like beerwine. And the French are known for their wine. And with my help, they will know this beer. Final smokestack rating = 4.8 smokestacks out of 7. Au revoir.

Brewer Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or
Beer Name Charbonniere
Brewer’s Description Un carrefour dans lequel le vent souffle des quatre coins… Tout en méditant certainement sur le dépôt de charbon de la Gare toute proche, voilà ce que disait Gervaise de la rue de la Charbonnière… De quoi nous inspirer cette bière très maltée et délicatement tourbée…                                           and for those without DuoLingo on their phones:                                              A crossroads in which the wind blows from the four corners … While certainly meditating on the coal depot of the nearby station, this is what Gervaise said rue de la Charbonnière … What inspire us this beer very malt and delicately peat.
Food Pairings Snails
Brewer Location Paris, France (18)
Alcohol content by volume 7.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 28
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.5 and cloudy (92 EBC)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 4.8

They need some help with their website, immediately, here it is anyway:

http://www.brasserielagouttedor.com/nos-bieres/#gamme-fr

And you guys know about this guy? Iya Traore? I’ve seen him over there, and this is in the same neighborhood as the brewery:

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Gänstaller Bräu – Franz Xaver smoked märzen – 6.8 out of 7

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Franz Xaver smells perfect… the beer, not the dead composer. Bamberg has given the world so much. Gänstaller Bräu of Hallerndorf, Germany resides on the outskirts of Bamberg, the motherland of smokebeer, and perhaps the current home of the Holy Grail (judging by the libations produced there). This smoked märzen is unlike all others. To begin with, it was so excited, it took 5 minutes to calm down allowing me to pour it all into this glass, just a bit of foam I’d say, but as this was occuring, it became evident that this was something special regardless. And I was surprised to find this labeled a märzen, which according to Michael Jackson, is the same as an Oktoberfest beer with the only difference being one alludes to March, and the other October, traditionally made out of the remaining grain ingredients after the community’s staple beer and food needs were met, because it tasted like one of the most refined normal beer ingredients found in smokebeers or rauchbiers. Not to encourage Gänstaller from changing the formula, given that I did not detect smoked tea, orange and a number of other inventive ingredients, the finished product was almost exactly as I wish all beers were. I’m not too picky about the journey, especially when we arrive at Franz Xaver as the destination. And as I down the last bit, yeah, I do think that this is an identifiable märzen, flavorful and packed with smoky beer. Congrats on the 6.8 smokestacks Gänstaller, I look forward to trying the elusive Rauch Royal.

Brewer Gänstaller Bräu
Beer Name Franz Xaver smoked märzen
Brewer’s Description A brewery specialty, this Rauch-Märzen features tones of caramel, Chinese Lapsang Souchong smoked tea, Bergamot orange, candied apple, and good ol’ bacon! Gänstaller rewrites the book on both Rauchbier and Märzen with this elegant,  rich yet sessionable uber-Franconian brew.
Food Pairings Hamburgers, Ribs, anything unhealthy eaten with big bites
Brewer Location Hallerndorf, Germany
Alcohol content by volume 5.6%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) unimportant
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 7
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 6.5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5.5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 6.8

It wouldn’t take much to get this dead end page up and running, and I can’t quantify how much it would help, but I feel confident making the statement that having an active website would not hurt your company, I’ll even do it for you:

http://www.ganstallerbrau.de/

What would I do without these guys? Brothers!

https://www.sheltonbrothers.com/beers/ganstaller-franz-xaver/

More about that dead composer Franz Xaver, who knew his first name? and second name? and that Amadeus wasn’t any of his real names? And even the name Wolfgang is debatable? cool:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Xaver_Wolfgang_Mozart

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Gänstaller Bräu – Affumicator smoked dopplebock – 5.2 smokestacks out of 7

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It’s not bad. I have to start with that phrase because the pour was pretty cloudy with a bunch of flakes in it. I did what I could to keep those bits in the bottom of the bottle, but the unusual carbonation, which seemed to exhale its last few breaths after opening it up, mixed everything all around. Supposedly, those bits aren’t supposed to hurt the flavor of the beer, and may even add to the taste, but I don’t like it, and this is my opinion, and I set the standards. Presentation is a component and I suspect that this is not exactly as Gänstaller desired. It’s not flat though, just a bit weird; I can relate. I’m still inclined to state that Affumicator is an above average smokebeer. I can taste what might be beechwood smoked malts (maybe oak), well balanced with caramel, proper hop infusion, and a biscuits. I’ll even leave the door open for a do-over review. This is a good smokebeer that went a little haywire in the bottle, just a little. A tip of the hat to Mugs who alerted the Ministry to this beer a while back, we appreciate clear direction. And, I just drank the flakes, what the heck. Overall score = 5.2 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Gänstaller Bräu
Beer Name Affumicator
Brewer’s Description Gänstaller’s heftiest traditional lager, Affumicator gives off a massive smokey nose, with hints of bacon, salmon, and Bonito flakes, and follows it with a delicious palate of caramel, chocolate, sweet bready malt, and a nice hop bitterness. Big, full, smooth, and with huge flavor–but most importantly, well-balanced, in the finest Bavarian tradition.
Food Pairings wurst
Brewer Location Hallerndorf, Germany
Alcohol content by volume 9.6%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) idunno
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) cloudy 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.2

And 2 years ago this website was under construction… must be a gov’t funded project:

http://www.ganstallerbrau.de/

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Aecht Schlenkerla – Helles Lagerbier (can) – 5* smokestacks

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Another rendition of the famed Schlenkerla beer seen here in a can has just garnered high marks from SmokeBeerMinistry, 5 of them marks to be exact. This canned Helles (German for light in color) Lagerbier is important to note because this canning project is something new to the ministry. Not only for Schlenkerla, but for the industry. This beer was brewed in Germany and then pumped into a huge shipping container sized tank, shipped to Connecticut, and canned there unfiltered. Noticeably carrying with it every bit of Bamberg goodness a smokebeer can carry, this effort comes in a step above past formats of the same beer. One aspect of production I try not to shed too much light on is consistency. As in, “Can a brewery consistently produce the same flavor over time?”  because oftentimes, they can’t. The brewer notes that “some samples having residual smoke character” which may be a variability I have detected. And I like it anyway. And in this case, the real question is “how do they get smoke flavor in this beer without the use of smoked malts?” Brewed and fermented in the 14th century beer cellars underneath the Schlenkerla brewery where the rest of the brewery’s beer lineup is fully smoked and brewed, along with using the same yeast harvested from past smokebeer brewing, allows for a still robust smokiness, although subtle from a Schlenkerla point of view. I still found that a pleasantly surprising result. Brass tacks = I can’t wait to drink this beer again. Final score 5* out of 7.

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Brewer Aecht Schlenkerla
Beer Name Helles Lagerbier
Brewer’s Description “Schlenkerla Helles” is brewed with fine Bavarian aroma hops from the area around the city of Nürnberg. It’s lagered in century old caves underneath the historic Schlenkerla brewery and maltings. Schlenkerla Helles is boiled in the same copper kettles and bottom fermented by the same yeast as the historic Schlenkerla Smokebeer. Its subtle smokiness without using smoke malt makes “Helles Schlenkerla Lager” a unique representative of the classic lager beer style “Bavarian Helles”. Editor’s note: Since this is not intended as a smoked beer, and is not billed as such, it has been classed here as a Helles, despite some samples having residual smoke character.
Food Pairings Meats, cheese, nuts.
Brewer Location Bamberg, Germany
Alcohol content by volume 4.30%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 30
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N sometimes
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5*

*denotes that variable element of mood, desire, and direction of wind in the depths of Bamberg, Germany, as well as in the depths of my heart, and is a factor that cannot be contained.

Their website is an oldie but goodie:

http://www.schlenkerla.de/indexe.html

This link should be used for tank imagery only:

https://tankservice.com/about-us/isotankcontainerprojects/

And here’s a link to the importer, and presumed bottlers:

http://www.bunitedint.com/information/brands/description/84/

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HI WIRE Brewing – Strongman Coffee Milk Stout – 3 out of 7 smokestacks

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Yeah, I didn’t like this one, and I’m totally into strongman feats of strength. I like beers that taste like smoke, cheap black coffee, NHRA Top Fuel Dragster drag racing, and strongman competitions, so pretty much, I am ready for this beer, but it didn’t work out. Maybe egos got in the way. The word milk didn’t help either. “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m tired of coffee beers and I’m tired of milk stouts. And Strongman Coffee Milk Stout has both written right there on the bottle. So why did I review this? Because some guys at this new-money fancy beer store in Chattanooga told me it was smoky. Furthermore, there are beers that are brewed with coffee (not good), and there are beers that are brewed with coffee added after brewing (worse), and this is the latter. And wouldn’t you know it, the coffee added to this beer is cold brewed coffee. Pretentious! (I say pretentious because some smart guy said it at a party about this other guy that I hate). I don’t know, let me calm down a minute, I eventually came around with the whole barrel aging beer thing, maybe coffee and/or milk will have it’s day? In Hi-Wire’s defense, they delivered on what the label says. And in my defense, I know that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a body builder and NOT a strongman, big difference. 3 smokestacks out of 7. Failed to lift.

Brewer HI – WIRE
Beer Name strongman
Brewer’s Description Coffee Milk Stout                     Inspired by our head brewer’s cafe con leche-fueled travels in Key West. Local coffee from Dynamite Roasting Co. is cold-extracted and added post fermentation to this sweet, creamy beer.
Food Pairings Brunch
Brewery Location Asheville, NC
Alcohol content by volume 5.3%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 28
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.8 (32 SRM)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

Good website, although it lacks any mention of strongmen, or even links to strongman sites:

https://hiwirebrewing.com/seasonals/strongman-coffee-milk-stout/

Feats of strength by Strongman Eddie “The Beast” Hall:

Here’s my proof on that Arnold Schwarzenegger quote:

I was in the audience in Columbus, OH for this last one. For the serious enthusiast only, and I hope you’re not squeamish:

 

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Amager Bryghus – The Amazing Gotland Campfire Beer – 5 smokestacks out of 7

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It’s smoky. Wow, like full-on. Woo doggies! Is this a Gotlandsdricka? Because if so, this is smokier than I would expect. Historically Swedish, and from the island Gotland in the Baltic sea, Gotlandsdricka is a traditional smoky ale with very limited interest in the US beer scene (but we’re going to change that, right?). There are a whole buncha flavors in there fighting it out. This beer is heavy. And after taking a few sips, much of the fun is gone, along with my taste buds. Just 2 ozs in and I’m wondering where the smoked malts, chocolate malts, and sweetness went? They came and went like senior year, (try keeping up with my IROC, bitches). This beer is all ruckus and no harmony, which is a big surprise after getting all excited upon opening. I would like to give Amazing Gotland a do-over, but it appears not to be in production anymore. But my friends, a 5 out of 7 is an encouraging, above average score, and SmokeBeerMinistry looks forward to more works by Amager. And one question: Why is the word beer in the name of your beer?

Brewer Amager Bryghus
Beer Name The Amazing Gotland Campfire Beer
Brewer’s Description or story telling time, you decide  If you take a casual stroll along the fair coastline of Gotland, you might wonder if there are any forests on the island at all. But make no mistake about it. Deep and dark, they are, and twisted – the pine forests of this storied isle. There are many legends of these woods, and one that is centuries old tells of a monster attracted to the smell of smoke from campfires. A friendly monster, but still… Many a camper has wet his pants upon discovering the Marshmallow Monster hovering over the dying embers trying to toast a perfect skewerful of sweets for his cocoa. We first heard tell of the Marshmallow Monster from our friends at Malmö Brygghus, so it was only natural to make our collaboration brew a homage to this kind Swedish creature. For we believe in the goodness of all men – and monsters.
Food Pairings Danish
Brewer Location Kastrup, Denmark
Alcohol content by volume 7%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.85
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 5.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5.9
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 6
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5

You might want to brush up on your Danish:

http://www.amagerbryghus.dk/

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Wooha Brewing Co. – Porter – 3.75 out of 7 smokestacks

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Back in the sanctuary for this review, which caused Buddha Blue Light to pulsate. Wooha Brewing Co. (which I have a hard time saying without hearing Busta Rhymes voice in my head) of Scotland, brews four beers: Wheat, IPA, Lager, and Porter, and the Porter is in the tabernacle today. Described as smoky by Wooha themselves, we brought the porter in and were completely not offended. This beer smells like beer. No smoke though, but sweetish beer smells (no, not Swedish as in from Sweden, because this is Scotland). And after a good head scratch I wonder why the word smoky is on the bottle. I guess I taste it a bit, maybe peat smoked malts. I definitely can agree with Wooha’s chocolate and coffee comments. And I detect just a bit of bitterness. But in this 11.16 oz bottle, there just isn’t enough to bring me back again, unless maybe if I were in Scotland, or maybe if I were at a party and this was in a cooler, but that’ll never happen. Maybe I’m in a bad mood, maybe it’s that Busta Rhymes in my head, Got you all in check, WooHah! Overall smokestack rating = 3.75 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Wooha Brewing Co.
Beer Name Porter
Brewer’s Description A real ale, dark rich and smoky. Hints of chocolate & coffee. Smooth
Food Pairings Haggis, Lorne sausage, Stovies
Brewery Location Upper Hempriggs, Scotland
Alcohol content by volume 5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units)  na
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.65
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.75

Their website seems alright, but it don’t make me go Wooha:

http://www.woohabrewing.com/

And a shout out to Busta… who just cheered me up a bit:)

 

 

PS

Wooha has this little note for the customers, which I think makes them a good deal more respectable. Their job is probably harder this way:

“Whatever kind of WOOHA you’re looking for, all our beers are 100% natural. We don’t do filtration, there’s no isinglass (chemicals and additives) – making our beers vegan friendly – and you won’t find a single bubble of forced carbonation. We use temperature and time to clarify our beers – beer doesn’t come anymore natural than WOOHA.

Our real ales are smooth, with appropriate levels of carbonation – fizz not allowed.”

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Ommegang – Smoked Porter – 4 smokestacks (out of 7)

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Ommegang is one of the most respected breweries in the US, so I was thrilled to get their take on a smoked porter. And with a noted concern for my own biases for not only Ommegang, but all Belgian beers in general, Ommegang made it easy for me to set aside impartiality with this dangerously close to bland smoked porter. To start with, I can’t smell any smoke. But the taste did redeem itself a bit with moderately smoky and thirst quenching swig. There is a slight bitterness to it that seems to get along just fine with the other flavors in there, although, there really aren’t too many other flavors in there to speak of. A touch of roasted flavors, chocolate malts, and water, all round out to a safe rendition of a beer from a company (that I think was founded and sold to themselves somehow) that is a little too timid for my palate. The Ommegang website has the recipe posted and they sure do throw the word “smoke” around an awful lot to not step up with something more substantial, like the foam head they delivered. Overall score = a generous 4 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Brewery Ommegang
Beer Name Smoked Porter
Brewer’s Description Ommegang Smoked Porter. This nod to a traditional English beer is brewed with subtle additions of smoked malt and a touch of Saaz hops to add additional depth and character to an otherwise traditional English brew. While the style is a departure from our traditional Belgian-style beers, the characteristic aromas of chocolate malt along with caramelized sugar are reminiscent of many things Belgian, and of all things good.
Food Pairings Smoked meats and cheeses, chocolate cake
Brewery Location Cooperstown, NY
Alcohol content by volume 7.6%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) not available
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4

Not the most user friendly website. High on form, low on function.

http://www.ommegang.com/

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Jackie O’s Brewery – Wood Burner (bourbon barrel) – 4.75 smokestacks out of 7

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Upon opening this highly anticipated smokebeer, one speculated if this beer, Bourbon Barrel Wood Burner by Jackie O’s Brewery, would take the paint off of a car. Some were repulsed by this inquiry, but others were intrigued. This dark-as-hell barrel aged beer from Athens, Ohio, captured The Ministry’s imagination. This beer tastes like a wine that spontaneously generated inside a tire factory. Joe The Blacksmith found this beer fitting for the darkest day of winter. The barrel aging really did a number on this beer, and that number is 6.5. Other tastes and sensations mentioned include sweet and burnt molasses, caramel, vanilla extract, and black licorice. The 11% abv plus bourbon barrel burns the nose, and the real mystery is why didn’t all this materialize into a higher score?, because we’re the kind of people who like it that way. I think less barrel may be needed. Overall score = 4.75 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Jackie O’s
Beer Name Wood Burner (bourbon barrel)
Brewer’s Description The base stout focuses on rich caramel and chocolate notes with a deep savory/smoky backbone. The entire batch found its way into bourbon barrels where it rested for over a year. An enticing combination of sweet and savory, with waves of dark chocolate and vanilla that wash over the palate.
Food Pairings several thick steaks
Brewery Location Athens, OH
Alcohol content by volume 11%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) na
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.75
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 6.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.75

The website could use some sprucing up.

http://jackieos.com/

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Flying Dog – Sweet & Smoky Stout – 5 smokestacks out of 7

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Flying Dog Brewery and SmokeBeerMinistry go waaaaay back. All the way back to the first SmokeBeerMinistry tasting ever. Dog Schwarz was a smoked double lager that wowed the congregation almost a decade ago, and has since been fresh in the minds of ministers in attendance on that first day. And on this day (spring 2018), more firsts. This is the first review to be held at The Bistro, and this is the first communal smokebeer tasting held in Illinois. So it seems fitting to begin laying the groundwork for ordaining new ministers. Mr. Ben, co-proprietor of The Bistro (Champaign, IL) may have had first day jitters when he assigned extremely high scores in categories across the board. Fortunately, we run a quasi-democratic rare beer drinking cult, that regulates such outbursts by closing the garage door and switching Mr. Ben to light beer (without sedatives), and also by changing his scores.

The Flying Dog beer we reviewed on this brisk spring night, Sweet & Smoky Stout, came off as a smooth, moderately smoky, moderately malty, pleasant beer. Sweet & Smoky Stout is a great beer for a company that wants to produce a good smokebeer for the masses, which I presume is the point behind offering a small quantity of a fringe style of beer before sinking ones teeth into full scale coast to coast production. Seemingly modest with ingredients, keeping the abv up, and encouraging pairing it with a bowl of chili is the right way to prime the audience. One funny thing about this beer is that no one mentioned the word sweet when describing it. Adding sweetness will help. Adding Mr. Ben to The Ministry… it remains to be seen.

Brewer Flying Dog
Beer Name Sweet & Smoky Stout
Brewer’s Description With its blend of sweet and oatmeal stout profiles and touch of smoky complexity, get down with this guy and your favorite game day chili.
Food Pairings Chili
Brewery Location Fredrick, MD
Alcohol content by volume 7.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 45
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y… Barely
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

They got a good website too:

http://flyingdogbrewery.com/

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Monday Night Brewing – Bourbon Barrel Drafty Kilt – 4.5 smokestacks out of 7

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This beer was a gusher. Upon opening, the fizzle rose higher and higher up the neck of the bottle, slowly foamed up, out, and down the side, which happens. I checked for additional signs to warrant a drain pour, but concluded with a shoulder shrug and a “smells alright” comment, so this proceeded. And this process revealed early on that there is smoke in there, albeit faint and hidden as one might expect from cherrywood smoke. Originally a scotch ale called Drafty Kilt who touts its use of smoked malts, this barrel aged rendition found its way into the hands of a sharp eyed SmokeBeerMinistry administrator who spotted the phrase “smoke vs oak” on the side, and reports that oak won. Barrel power is a pronounced and powerful metric in this beer that adds to the utils of pleasure. Subtle smoke blended with barrel power, smoky molasses, chocolate malts, and caramel, seem to get along swimmingly. Advice for the brewer: clean up the label by removing words, then add smoke. Overall smoke metric = 4.5 smokestacks.

Brewer Monday Night Brewing
Beer Name Bourbon Barrel Drafty Kilt
Brewer’s Description What do Scotland and the American South have in common? An appreciation for good booze. But that doesn’t mean they always get along. We put our award-winning Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale in Kentucky bourbon barrels and let them duke it out in the cellar. Who won? You did. Oh, also we did. Again. A GABF Gold Meal. No big deal. The chocolate, caramel, and roasted malts in Drafty Kilt complement the charred oak and vanilla notes in the bourbon barrels quite well. Notice we didn’t say “compliment.” Scotch and Bourbon still don’t send each other Christmas cards.
Food Pairings  Chocolate, Smoked meats, Strong cheese, & Cigars (not a food)
Brewery Location Atlanta, GA
Alcohol content by volume 8.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 26 meaningless points
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 5.75
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

Aggressive hyperlinks on their website, but it looks fine:

https://mondaynightbrewing.com/about/

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Yellow Springs Brewery – Smokin’ Handsome – 5.8 out of 7

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This beer smells like bacon, which is a good sign. In response to my order, the bartender at 101 Beer Kitchen of Columbus, OH said, “Are you sure? It’s REALLY smoky.” I replied that I could handle it given that I’m here for The Arnold Classic. 101 Beer Kitchen is a swanky, properly dimly lit, upper scale place with a rustic vibe going on in there, which appears to encourage more drinking. After a few campfiresque beechwood smoked chugs in, faint memories almost made their way to my frontal lobes, but they didn’t. And it was at that moment that I realized the smokepower was fading from my palate. The high acidity in beers seems to punish my palate to the point of washing away my ability to taste the second half of beers sometimes, and this is one of those times. Other things began to move in, including musty tastes and dry sensations. But there’s nothing yellow about this beer. It’s bold. It even won an award; silver in 2013. And I’m giving it an overall smokestack rating of 5.8 smokestacks (out of 7).

Brewer Yellow Springs Brewery
Beer Name Smokin’ Handsome
Brewer’s Description A beech wood smoked version of our Handsome American Brown Ale. Silver Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival 2013.
Food Pairings Jail House food
Brewery Location Yellow Springs, OH
Alcohol content by volume 5.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) few
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 6
Sausage detection? Y or N Y (and bacon)
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 6
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.8

They online:

http://yellowspringsbrewery.com/

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Victory Brewing – Otto Ale – 5.9 smokestacks outta 7

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This is good. Even after 6 years of being held up in the supply chain, Otto finally made it into the tabernacle. Victory Brewing whipped this one up back in 2011, Otto Ale, and not until 2017 did this corked smoked Belgian dubbel make it into the hands of SmokeBeerMinistry, for which we are thankful. This sweet smelling, and moderately smoky beer reminds me of some Colorado renditions of smoked Belgians, which suggests that it would benefit me to read a mash bill or two, but I won’t, too busy, at least I won’t before this gets posted. In the short term, I’ll just keep typing and pretend we’re all getting the full 100% (emoji not available). I also had some wine tonight already. And regardless of my state of disrepair, I only seem to struggle with the decision of giving this beer a 5.9 or a 6… We’ll go with 5.9, I guess I’m a glass is half empty kind of drinker. Victory really hit the last two smokebeers just about right on the nose (Earth & Flame and Scarlet), and I look forward to what will find it’s way to us in the future. Overall smokestack rating on a 1 – 7 scale of smokestacks; Otto Ale = 5.9 smokestacks

Brewer Victory Brewing
Beer Name Otto Ale
Brewer’s Description Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet, Victory co-founders, developed the recipe for the new smoked malt dubbel based on their experience with the style during a trip they took to Bamberg, Germany in 1987. In order to create a deliciously palatable smoked beer, Bill and Ron decided to combine the sometimes-overpowering qualities of the smoky rauch style with Belgian caramel malt, which yields a perfectly harmonized final flavor. “The complimentary flavors of smoked malt and Belgian yeast seemed like an obvious combination,” said Bill. “As far as we know, no one has bothered to put them together until now.” Victory Otto Ale is made up of smoked, Munich and Belgian caramel malt, German hops and Trappist yeast. Alcohol by volume is 8.1%.
Food Pairings Hamburgers
Brewery Location Downingtown, PA
Alcohol content by volume 8.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) na
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.9

Feel free to peruse:

http://www.victorybeer.com/

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DeDues – Tocatta Smoked Ale – 6 out of 7

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Tocatta Smoked Ale by Cerveses DeDues of Sant Esteve, Spain was recently received, where we discovered virtually all memory of this organization has nearly dissipated from the internet. Thankfully, I got a hold of it before it was too late, because a 6 out of 7 smokestack rating is a centerpiece of a beer. Smoke smell arose as soon as I opened it, along with sweet smells. Sweet bubblegum machine sugary notes. An interesting quick fizzle of the head, which settled down to what is seen here. With the first sip were recollections of freshly installed telephone poles in the hot Mississippi summertime, followed by a short lived downpour in a coniferous forest. In the shade is a nice place to wait out the remainder of the evening with this beer in hand. This beer is well made with a little sting to it. It’s too bad that this company and beer are so hard to find. Exclusivity is one way to draw people in, but it can also work to keep people apart, but I won’t take it out on the score. Overall smokestack rating = Strong 6 out of 7.

Brewer Cerveses DeDues
Beer Name Tocatta smoked ale
Brewer’s Description plucked from the internet DeDues Tocatta ingredients are 50% pale ale barley malt and 50% whisky malt. All of them clear malts, that would give a blond color to the beer. Instead of that, Tocatta has been boiled for 25 hours so all sugars get caramel colour and taste. Mashing process is done to empower low fermentable sugars, with a residual of 40gr/liter. Thus, the final beer is sweet without adding sugars nor chemically stopping fermentation. Alcohol content is 11%. Tocatta is bottled with no carbonic although it can be produced within the next years. It is expected to give its best around 2014
Food Pairings Paella, Bikini, Croquette, Chorizo, Tapas, And Foie-Gras, desserts, nuts, or as a digestif
Brewery Location Sant Esteve, Spain
Alcohol content by volume 11%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) na
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5.8
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 6

This can’t be good, but at one point is may have been their website. They are also on LinkedIn, and that’s all I can find:

http://dedues.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/cerveses-dedues-s.l./

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Sam Adams – Smoked Lager – 4.5 smokestacks (out of 7)

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I had to buy a whole 12 pack again just to get this one beer. Although not convenient, this won’t stop me from drinking the 5 other kinds from this variety pack. This smoked lager beer (lager = bottom fermenting) has a beech-wood smoky edge that you won’t miss, in fact, it is such a sharp edge that one can recognize the very wood used in the smoking process even before noticing that it was printed on the label, as I did. Sam Adam’s Smoked Lager also has a touch of sweetness to it, but not quite enough of much else to take it from good to great (still trying to give my career a boost). This good beer also has a touch of minor bitter beer taste in there, rounding it out to what can be described by tired people as “good.” Sam gets just over the hump with 4.5 smokestacks.

Brewer Sam Adams
Beer Name Smoked Lager
Brewer’s Description This traditional rauchbier’s delicate balance of beechwood smokiness and toasty malts make it the perfect beer for sitting around a fire pit with friends or warming up on a chilly night.
Food Pairings Boston cream pie? What do they eat in Boston? Clam Chowda?
Brewery Location Boston , MA
Alcohol content by volume 5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.75 (SRM:25)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y (slight)
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

We’ll see how long this link lasts, but you’ll easily find Sam Adams home page even after this is defunct:

https://www.samueladams.com/craft-beers/seasonals/smoked-lager

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Mile Wide Beer Co. – Path of the Righteous Man smoked rye amber ale – 3 out of 7

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Another can, or actually a crowler, which is the 32 oz beer holding vessel that Mile Wide Beer Co. of Louisville, KY has chosen to distribute this smoked beer in, unless you can find it on tap. And this beer is a gateway beer. The hope that SmokeBeerMinistry holds is that beer drinkers will drink Path of the Righteous Man and work to find a smokier and smokier paths, which would be more righteous. Headquartered in an old Pillsbury Dough silo and factory, Mile Wide has a lot going for it, including this completely non-offensive Smoke Rye Amber Ale. It’s too bad I can’t say that about Mile Wide’s cross town competitor… everything they do is offensive. Mile Wide comes off as an honest, young, and passionate beer start-up in a gentrifying neighborhood, and I hope the audience grows and the palates continue to mature. But, I have to give this crew a dose of Judge Mathis’ tuff luv. Path of the Righteous Man is something that I could serve my mom and hear her describe it as neat. If this path were a road, the speed limit would be 30mph, and I’m looking for something that would be featured on Ice Road Truckers, or maybe even that Elon Musk vacuum tube hyper bullet. Needs more smoke, rye, amber, and ale flavors, but, honestly, I could still drink this every day, maybe as a refresher beer. I look forward to Mile Wide getting their feet under them, and getting into some deeper waters, and having seen their production facility and filled barrels within, I’d guess that’s exactly what’s happening. Good luck folks.

Brewer Mile Wide Beer Co.
Beer Name Path of the Righteous Man
Brewer’s Description Smoked Rye Amber Ale
Food Pairings Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hot Browns, Papa Johns Pizza
Brewer Location Louisville, KY
Alcohol content by volume 5.4%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) no
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1.4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3.3
Sausage detection? Y or N no
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3

The website could use some work.

https://www.milewidebeer.com/home/#welcome

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Blue Blood Brewing – Smoked Marzen – 4.2 smokestacks (out of 7)

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Found one in a can! Which is fun, because it’s so rare, but its really not that exciting because the canned smokebeers I’ve had have all been below average. And this one, which is only the 6th can in a field of over 200 unique smokebeers, falls into the marginal category as well. And it started out so well… Cracking it open released notes of a crackling campfire into the air. And the taste of wood smoked malts was not muddled with any other flavors that you might expect from a marzen (or more appropriately called Oktoberfest given its September release). With each successive sip, however, my tongue got drier and drier. Although smokepower maintained its muster throughout the pint, bitterness began to really add up to an acidic phenolic experience. Which is unfortunate because in this particular instance, I found myself making an extra effort, searching for something inside this glass to praise, but never found much. Overall metric quantified in a 1 to 7 scale of smokestacks = 4.2 smokestacks.

Brewer Blue Blood Brewing
Beer Name Smoked Marzen
Brewer’s lengthy Description of the history of some stupid cave in Nebraska. Beer, not mentioned. Would you believe it’s been a hideout for Jesse James, a sacred temple for Pawnee Indians and even the site of an Old West-style duel? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is certain. Robbers Cave was used to lager beer made by Pioneer Brewery, the first operation of its kind in Lincoln, Neb., founded in 1869. More than a century later, we’ve restored the cave to its true calling. Inspired by the wild legends of this Nebraska landmark, the Robbers Cave Series is home to a unique, ever-changing lineup of beers. Sip. Enjoy. Savor.
Food Pairings Sliced ham and candied bacon sandwich
Brewer Location Lincoln, Nebraska
Alcohol content by volume 5.3%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4.8
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3.8
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2.8
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 4.2

A typical smokebeer mentioned in name only on this typical website.

http://bluebloodbrewing.com/home/

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The Devil’s Trumpet – War Horn – 3 out of 7

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The Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Co. of Merrillville, IN has been received into the tabernacle with War Horn, a less than average smoked porter. Although printed on the bottle as “porter” the website clearly states that this beer is a smoked porter, along with a note on the side of the bottle stating the use of smoked malts. The imagery on the label really draws you in. Also, knowing how porters and smoke flavors often go hand in hand SBM gave it a shot, and was presented with dry and musty light smoke notes wafting around the rim of the glass. After seeing the striking label, reading the terminology used, mentions of smoke on the label and website, I wonder why Devil’s Trumpet then delivered a run of the mill porter? Posturing. Plenty of companies use smoke malts to beef up the flavor, but few ever mention that (because they’re afraid of scaring away customers), and Devils Trumpet went out of their way to boast about that smoke. And then failed to deliver something above and beyond. War Horn is not a bad beer, it’s just too much badassery for this four door sedan of beers. Total smokestacks = 3.

Brewer The Devil’s Trumpet
Beer Name War Horn
Brewer’s Description The gentle use of smoked malts in this beer gives it a subtle smokiness that compliments the beer’s chocolate and roasty flavors.
Food Pairings Burgers and fries
Brewer Location Merrilville, IN
Alcohol content by volume 6%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 26
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4.5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3

These folks are in Merrillville, IN, which has an Acura dealership that exhibits feats of strength.

Devil’s Trumpet has a decent website:

http://thedevilstrumpet.com/home.html

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Klostergarden – Alstadberger – 6.75 out of 7 smokestacks

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Alstadberger is really good. Klostergarden is a great example of an organization that focused so closely on honing their craft of this beer, that they were able to refine this into a world leading example of smokebeer. Some brewers simply throw mud at a wall hoping something will stick, this crew started with a block of marble and delivered The Pietà. This beer rivals that of Schlenkerla’s products, who’ve had an over 300 year head start. This smoked ale smells and tastes like Aecht Schlenkerla’s Marzen beer, but a little less bitter. The smoke in this one is intense, campfire. I bet it’ll seep out of my skin. Despite the picture, it’s not so dark. It’s a ruby more than a black, maybe a deep copper. Oh, and by the way, this beer was a gusher. Right after opening it up, out rose a foam snake that made a bit of a short lived mess, fortunately I was near the sink. It calmed down and left behind one of the best beers I’ve had in all of 2017 (although I realize this review won’t get posted until 2018). And the smokepower is sustained all the way down to the bottom of the glass. I’m impressed. I look forward to drinking this beer again and again. Overall score = 6.75 smokestacks (out of 7).

Brewer Klostergarden
Beer Name Alstadberger
Brewer’s Description The beer has a distinct alderwood-smoked flavour following kilning on an open fire, balanced with a good caramel sweetness and a rich malty body.
Food Pairings Your favorite dish
Brewer Location Norway
Alcohol content by volume 6.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) meaningless
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.125
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 7
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 7
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 6.75

Good website. Take note of their malt smoking facilities and grass roof (must be hard to mow)

https://handverksmalt.no/story/klostergarden-brewery/

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Birra del Convento – Carrobiolo O.G. 1111 – 7 out of 7 smokestacks

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Nectar of the Gods right here. This is the best beer SmokeBeerMinistry had in 2017. Carrobiolo O.G. 1111 is a beer demon that devoured a bunch of other beers and grew stronger. I can taste Fort Collins in there, Schlenkerla, The Bruery Smoking Wood, and even Goose Island BCBS. Brewed in 2013 and discovered on a shelf in 2017 (and drunk), this beer delivered the wow factor at the onset, right upon the smoky smell that wafted out. And, it poured like barrel aged molasses. I lifted the bottle away from the glass higher and higher, as I poured, to get some kind of head to froth up, which I got, but without anything other than a contiguous syrupy outpouring from nearly two feet above the glass. Was gelatin an ingredient? Well if so, it worked. Viscosity = 7 out of 7. I smell smoke, dried cherries, hooka tobacco, crisp fall air, barrels, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There’s a ton of booze in this too; 12.5%. Italy has been hitting it out of the park lately. I don’t know what’s going on with the apocalyptic imagery on the label, or the significance of the number 1111. After this epiphany, I’m willing to go to Italy to find out. These folks are going to get an award!

Brewer Birra del Carrobiolo
Beer Name O.G. 1111
Brewer’s Description
Dark and warming beer, a wintertime sipper. It can be stocked for aging. With a significant alcoholic strength, it is a complex and elegant beer.
Food Pairings decadence
Brewer Location Italy
Alcohol content by volume 12.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 75
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 7
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 7

Looks like in their spare time they sell pizza:

http://www.birradelcarrobiolo.it/birre.html

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Birra Troll – Shangrila Fume – 5 smokestacks out of 7

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Italians aren’t known for their beer, but the few times that we’ve crossed paths, they seem to deliver smokebeer in good order, so hats off to them. After a ‘who knows how long’ layover at Parti-Pak in Indianapolis, this beer made it to the SBM tabernacle for more waiting. Now that it’s been opened, we’re glad to have found it happy and healthy. The foam head quickly fizzled down to what you see here which is a sign of its age (probably less than 3 years, but still longer than it needs to be), and as far as I can tell, this was the only sign of its age. The aroma draws up notes of Bamberg Germany smoke, Belgian beers, and maybe even a dopplebock in there somewhere which presented beer worthy of big gulps. On the tongue swirls rich, quality beer flavors ranging from malty caramels, smoke, and a touch of bitters for a harmonious experience. Watch out for the sediment in the bottom, but if you’re reading this review, then you gotta be well aware of the threat of yeasty sediment in the bottom of obscure beers like this; no matter how small of a threat it really is, I try to avoid it. Two word review = Its good. Final overall smokestack rating = 5 smokestacks. Cinque (Italian for five smokestacks).

Brewer Birra Troll
Beer Name Shangrila Fume’
Brewer’s Description Loaded amber color is a special version of the Shangrila, less alcoholic and less spicy, which uses a small percentage of turtled malt, usually used by Scottish distilleries. Smoking is very delicate in the nose and gives beer a very intense structure and flavors that evoke the backs of Scottish Whiskey. Designed and made with the purpose of matching with grilled meats. Available only in bottle.
Food Pairings grilled meats
Brewer Location Vernante, Italy
Alcohol content by volume 7.5%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.85
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3.75
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2.8
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5

Anybody know whats going on here?

http://birratroll.it/Shangrila%20fume.htm

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B. Nektar – Cherry Chipotle – 2.25 smokestacks of mead

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Little twist here, clearly this will receive the ‘not a smokebeer’ tag, but technically this isn’t even a beer. It’s a mead. Nonetheless, the infallible palate of the Ministry has an opinion to share about this libation based on the preferences of SmokeBeerMinstry’s collective palate. And as it turns out, SBM does not appreciate mead. The smoke smell wafted out from the start, getting off on the right foot, and the 14% abv raised an intrigued eyebrow, and the wisps of smoke on the label piqued interest before purchase at the store, were all quickly forgotten when the double sweet, double cherry flavor squandered all aspirations. The cherry juice added does have some redeeming qualities; it covers the alcohol flavor completely, and it’s a decent complement to the smoked jalapeno spiciness, but its too overpowering. I can recommend this to people who like mead, chipotle peppers (smoked jalapenos), and Capri Suns. I cannot recommend this to a smokebeer enthusiast, or anyone seeking vivid dreams (a storied side effect from mead drinking; B. Nektar did not impart any effect on this night, unfortunately). Better luck nektime, overall score = 2.25 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer B. Nektar
Beer Name Cherry Chipotle
Brewer’s Description Honey wine with cherry juice and Chipotle peppers. The sweet matches the heat in this brilliant wine with a kick. Bold, sweet cherry rolls seamlessly into a mild honey character that’s quickly engulfed by a kick of smoky chipotle peppers that warms and tingles the mouth. Full-bodied with a wonderful balance of sweet and heat that lingers in the finish. Deep ruby-red, still and brilliantly clear with thick, streaming legs.
Food Pairings Rich chocolate or molten lava cake, French vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Or pair with a creamy Brie or bold Roquefort cheese and water crackers.
Brewer Location Ferndale, MI
Alcohol content by volume 14%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.8
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Spiciness 1 – 7 (mild – painful) 4
CherryPower 1 – 7 (no – whoa) 7
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 2.25

The website’s alright:

http://www.bnektar.com/brews/cherry-chipotle/

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Moody Tongue – Applewood Gold (bottle) – 4.4 smokestacks out of 7

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This beer is different from the last one I had on draft about a year ago, and this is for the better. Last years Applewood Gold had flavors dissipate into the ether from what I recall, and if I were taking this review more seriously, I would reread what I wrote here, but I won’t. I looked at the chart and that’s enough. This year’s Applewood Gold, which I found in 12oz bottles, came out darker, thicker, and smokier, and that led to a better score (overall smoke metric = 4.4 smokestacks compared to the mere 2.5 on draft). Why are these two beers (draft vs bottle) so different? I don’t know. This beer still lands on the lighter side of the spectrum except for smokepower taste, and if sweetness were a metric, sweetness would rank in the high 6’s. Applewood Gold is a light, refreshing, crisp beer with a little sweet and smoky tang to it. This is a positive experience. I will drink more of these when the time is right, and probably when a bunch of barbecue is around.

Brewer Moody Tongue
Beer Name Applewood Gold (bottle)
Brewer’s Description The Applewood Gold is a beer true to its name in both hue and excellence. Taste and smell are powerful tools for nostalgia and mood-setting, where certain flavors and aromas can bear the sensor to faraway memories or bring them closer to home. We crafted this beer with sunshine in our minds – making its body light and vibrant enough to enjoy throughout the night, and well balanced to pair with a wide variety of foods from smoked salmon to grilled sweet Midwest corn.
Food Pairings Kumamoto Oysters, Fried Chicken, lemon poppyseed donut
Brewer Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 5%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2.5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 4.4

The website is fine.

https://www.moodytongue.com/our-beers/

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Tioga-Sequoia Brewing – SMOKE CHASER Reserve Double Barrel – 3.5 smokestacks out of 7

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Part 3 for the SMOKE CHASER barrel variants, and the takeaway is, they’re all the same beer. Without having had the two other versions of this beer in rapid succession (a rye whiskey barrel aged version and a bourbon barrel aged one), I would struggle to identify these as different beers. This one in particular, Smoke Chaser Reserve is merely one of their smoked barley wine beers that’s been in both kinds of barrels. Given the mediocre overall score and the limited bottle count (only 1000 bottles produced), it’s easy to deduce that this beer was a small scale experiment that was just successful enough to justify selling it to the public. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I had high hopes with the small bottle count, barrel aging, and waxed caps. This beer is too bitter. Its a robust barley wine with great barley wine flavors in there, marred with too much alcohol, short on sugary sweetness, and muddled in international bitterness units. That’s too bad because there seems to be plenty of time, money, and effort put into the production. Having said that, the 3.5 (out of 7) isn’t all that bad of an overall score. Four is the score we give middle of the road beers, where we can’t say anything bad, or recommend to a friend. One more thing, however; enjoy with a cigar. The Rye Whiskey barrel version of this beer recommended such, and I didn’t take them up on it until I got to this beer, and I must say, drinking and smoking is a combination that worked out in this beer’s favor, and I will certainly try again.

Brewer Tioga-Sequoia Brewing
Beer Name Smoke Chaser Reserve (Double Barrel)
Brewer’s Description Smoke Chaser comes from the name given to brave firefighters that defend California’s forests from devastating wild fires. Smoke Chaser Double Barrel Reserve is a blend of our 2014 vintage Smoked Barley Wine aged in Bourbon Barrels for 24 months and our 2015 vintage Smoked Barley Wine aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels for 12 months. The blend of barrels and slow oxidation transforms this beer into an uber complex barley wine with a rich malt backbone and complex whiskey overtones. Nuances of smoke, oak, and vanilla flow through every sip. Share with a friend now or reserve for a special occasion. Celler for up to 5 years.
Food Pairings dessert
Brewery Location Fresno, CA
Alcohol content by volume 14.6%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 90
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.75
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 6
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.5

Their website is pretty good:

http://tiogasequoia.com/

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Tioga-Sequoia Brewing – SMOKE CHASER Bourbon Barrel – 3.25 out of 7

20170524_203811Here’s part 2 for SMOKE CHASER, the bourbon barrel aged smoked barley wine beer by Tioga-Sequoia. There are no more than 999 of these still floating around out there, so if you want one, go now, but you should probably read this review first. Smoke Chaser Bourbon Barrel is one of 3 variants SmokeBeerMinistry got our hands on to review which began right after pouring it into the big glass seen above. It’s a lighter hue than the rye barrel variant, but considerably cloudier, however, my light meter shone (shined?) right through the glass, illuminating the entire beer like a light bulb, so a not so opaque beer. This beer smells about the same as the rye barrel variant, leaving a pronounced barley wine scent in the general vicinity of the pour. Smoke is there but on the expected lighter end given cherry wood was used in the smoking process. And the taste starts out as bitter; I like mine sweet, not bitter. You get used to the bitterness pretty quickly, probably because the 15.1% alcohol numbs every section of your palate (maybe I should have gone with the small pours as TS recommended). Barrel aging usually improves beers for me, but I can only hope this is not the case here. Smoke Chaser Bourbon Barrel is a bit frustrating, proper ingredients were used, barrel aging is a time consuming process, but the finished product is a below average score. In this particular case, I’d recommend backing down with some of the competing elements; cap it at 10% ABV, use less hops, and shorter barreling times. I’m a little concerned with the Smoke Chaser Double Barrel variant coming up next week. Tioga-Sequoia works to make progress towards our standards with a 3.25 overall smokestack rating (out of 7).

Brewer Tioga-Sequoia Brewing
Beer Name Smoke Chaser (Bourbon Barrel)
Brewer’s Description Smoke Chaser comes from the name given to brave firefighters that defend California’s forests from devastating wild fires. Our 2014 American Style Barley Wine was aged in our cellar for full year in whiskey barrels from Colorado’s Breckenridge Distillery and Wild Turkey bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Smoke Chaser is then transformed into an intensely complex and distinctive beauty with deep running flavors of oak, bourbon, and smoked cherry wood. This beer is extremely drinkable considering it’s alcohol content.
Food Pairings dessert
Brewery Location Fresno, CA
Alcohol content by volume 15.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 100
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.2 (SRM:42)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.25

Good website:

http://tiogasequoia.com/

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Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company – SMOKE CHASER Rye Whiskey Barrel – 3 smokestacks (out of 7)

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We have a back to back to back review here with Smoke Chaser, a cherry wood smoked barley wine that’s been aged in a rye whiskey barrel. The other two are of the same beer, one having been aged in a bourbon barrel, and the other a doubled barreled variant. Oddly enough, I don’t have the regular Smoke Chaser to review, only the barrel aged variants. And speaking of variants, limiting production only seems to add irritation to beer hunting, and cost, and doesn’t add any excitement to this little hobby of mine. It also leads to hoarding, which as anyone who’s seen the TV show Hoarders, knows that this unhealthy and can only lead to a horrendous conclusion. So, instead of stashing this in my basement for years on end, only to sell it at cost to some bloke on Facebook, less the shipping, I opened this ‘Bottle count – 1600’ and poured it into my big glass you see here.

Once I got Smoke Chaser opened, which was a task all on its own with the excessive wax on the cap, it smelled like a run of the mill barley wine beer, with slight smoke, and someone baking bread nearby. Notes of barrel and alcohol also wafted around, which were welcomed. And its taste matches the nose but with an added bitterness to it. As if smokebeers weren’t harsh enough on your taste buds already, the bitterness in this one will ensure that your palate is completely exhausted by the end of the night. The brewers description does recommend small pours, but where’s the fun in that? Next they’ll recommend leaving my driver at home the next time I go golfing. So, did you know that this beer is 14.1% abv? You will about a third of the way through if you skipped dinner like I did, and I’ve had a few tonight already, of course. I hope I make it to my bed tonight, and not just on top of the sheets still wearing my jeans. My wife won’t think that’s funny at all. This beer is too thin. Too bitter. Too dry. Not enough deep rich and sweet barley wine flavors floating around in here. I hope the next 2 Tioga beers fare a bit better. Overall score = 3 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Tioga-Sequoia Brewing
Beer Name Smoke Chaser (Rye Whiskey Barrel)
Brewer’s Description Smoke Chaser comes from the name given to brave firefighters that defend California’s forests from devastating wild fires. Our American Style Smoked Barley Wine aged in our cellar for a 12 months in Rye Whiskey Barrels. What differentiates this beer from its bourbon barrel aged country part is an overall dryer mouthful and taste that accentuates the spices in the whiskey. Smoke Chaser is still transformed into an intensely complex beer with deep running flavors of oak, vanilla, and smoked cherry wood. This beer is always recommended to be enjoyed in small pours, with friends, and of course with one of your favorite cigars.
Food Pairings dessert
Brewery Location Fresno, CA
Alcohol content by volume 14.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 90
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

Tioga-Sequoia has just about the best brewers website I’ve ever seen. Learn more at:

http://tiogasequoia.com/about/

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Saugatuck – Bonfire Brown – 4 smokestacks out of 7

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Its got fire in the name. Its got a picture of fire, and some kind of spiritual seance or some shit going on in the picture (which doesn’t indicate smoke, but at least it excites ministers in Smoke Beer Ministry). Its got the phrase “slight hint of smoke in the finish” written on the box. And, it delivers on that slight hint, although I wish it were more. This beer is a great brown ale, but we here at SBM grade on a smokebeer curve, which leaves this at a 4 out of 7 smokestack rating. Nothing to be concerned about for Saugatuck given that I’d use this beer as a daily drinker if I weren’t livin on Miller High Life money at the moment (really nailed that last job interview; wonder why they didn’t all rush to read my beer blog I talked incessantly about?) Whatever may be the cause for my financial constraints is really no concern of yours. The roasted malt aroma at the front door should be of greater concern right now. Along with one of my favorite kinds of fire, the bonfire. This Bonfire Brown ale has won all kinds of major awards, gold I think. I could use some awards right now. The plasma screen went out and I can’t find any bulging capacitors to swap out. Trying to save me some money by fixin it myself. I got the whole thing opened up and pieces laying all over the living room floor. There’s gonna be hell to pay when my wife sees this. In conclusion, Bonfire Brown, good everyday drinker, but you shouldn’t drink every day. 4 smokestacks.

Check out their awards:

Gold Medal for American Brown Ale 2014 – World Beer Cup
Best in Show 2013 – World Expo of Beer
1st place for American Ale 2013 – World Expo of Beer
Best in Midwest Brown Ale 2013 – United States Beer Tasting Championship

Brewer Saugatuck Brewing Co.
Beer Name Bonfire Brown
Brewer’s Description A classic American Brown Ale with just a slight hint of smoke in the finish.
Food Pairings Smoked sausage, gouda
Brewer Location Saugatuck, MI
Alcohol content by volume 5.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.9
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2.7
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 4

Saugatuck:

http://saugatuckbrewing.com/

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The Blind Pig – Smoked Lager – 3.9 smokestacks out of 7

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Not to be confused with the Smoked Rye Lager that The Blind Pig made about 6 months ago, this beer, Smoked Lager, came out just behind the rye in it’s overall score. With a 3.9 smokestack rating (out of 7) The Blind Pig’s Smoked Lager inclines SmokeBeerMinistry to move on and find a different smokebeer before coming back around to this one. A ‘meh’ score of just a mere 4 smokestacks is enough to keep SBM in the mix for further drunkenings, but anything below that, as seen here, leads us to do our drunkening with different libations, until the point of drunkenness, and then, well, who really can be held responsible for our behavior after that? Not us. From the looks of it, this beer is off to a good start, with proper lager hues and clarity. Smoke Lager smells of the right kind of smoke, with beechwood smoked malts stirring up memories of campfires, tent camping, brisk nights, and beef jerky. But, then the taste with a dry and bitterness to it raised questions about the type and timing of the hops during production. One individual present at the official tasting, whom was unaware of the entire world of smoked beers prior to this day, tasted this beer, and immediately got up and bought one of her own. This is unusual. Typically, first timers are force fed smokebeer after smokebeer until their taste buds are so shot that they think they like smokebeer. And those people rarely return. But on this day, a new convert is introduced to the smoke world with great aplomb. In conclusion, there were mixed signals from the table. The higher ranking officials pushed the score down just below the over under. Final overall rating = 3.9 smokestacks, meh.

Brewer Blind Pig Brewery
Beer Name Smoked Lager
Brewer’s Description Our smoked Lager is golden amber with a complementary smoke note to balance out the caramel maltiness.  It is brewed with German malt, Beechwood smoked malt, German hops, and Augustiner yeast.
Food Pairings Pub fare
Brewer Location Champaign, IL
Alcohol content by volume 6.1% or 6.9% Blind Pig isn’t sure
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.55
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3.9

Website needs to be taken more seriously:

https://www.blindpigco.com/beer-list

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Sierra Nevada/Garage Project – Campout Porter – 3.1 smokestacks out of 7

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Had to buy a whole 12 pack to get this one beer. In mid 2017 Sierra Nevada put out this special “Beer Camp – Across the World” 12 pack with 12 different kinds of beer in it, all collaborative efforts with 12 other breweries. I like the concept, and I was cool with drinking the 11 other beers that I didn’t really want to buy, And $22 was a bit steep, but whatev’. Malts smoked with Manuka wood by the New Zealanders at Garage Project deliver a beer with a fleeting sweetness (when I wanted to savor it), a vanilla that delivered a dry bitterness (when I wanted syrupy richness), and a honey that went undetected (probably for the best). It’s a delicate balance, smokebeer is. Rich smoked malts can easily get smoked too hot or for too long and can leave a roasted and burnt taste. Maybe that’s what happened? Maybe its the manuka wood (probably not). Surely this isn’t what they wanted a porter to taste like (less the smoke). The extra booze is a redeeming quality (7.7% abv)… Ahh, you know what? the sweetness does come back around later on down the road. But for now, we gotta bite the bullet. Overall smokestack metric = 3.1 smokestacks (out of 7, parenthesis.

Brewer Sierra Nevada / Garage Project
Beer Name Campout Porter
Brewer’s Description We’re playing off the camping theme of Beer Camp with a beer we’re calling Campout Porter that evokes the flavors of marshmallows toasted over an open fire. The beer features special ingredients such as malt smoked over manuka wood (a tree native to New Zealand) and manuka honey. Additionally it contains beechwood honey from California and Tahitian vanilla beans to reflect the sweet and roasted notes we were looking for in this collaboration.
Food Pairings Smoked prawns, smoked sheep, smoked pork, smoked whatever else they eat in NZ… kiwi?
Brewer Location California / New Zealand
Alcohol content by volume 7.7%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 32
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.8
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3.1

Websites OK, have your ID ready:

http://www-origin.cdn.sierranevada.com/

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2nd Story Brewing – Old City is Burning – 5.8 smokestacks out of 7

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Smells like smoke. Old City is Burning has a nice medium malty character that distinguishes itself early on in the tasting of this one. This beer really distinguishes itself as a true rauchbier, which is at the heart of what SBM is searching for, although 2nd Story does so with a tiptoeing of sorts, which is polite but unnecessary. The inclusion of sausage and smoked meat flavors is a must and points are scored in that respect, but not enough chest pounding by the unsuspecting brutes who order this beer after 20 years of abusing light beer, (nice to see them outside of their comfort zone, however). I think I know where 2nd Story was aiming, and I think they got right near the target, which shows solid muster for the master in this joint. Next step, muster up something with some muscle, and don’t bother asking the brutes for pointers.

Brewer 2nd Story Brewing
Beer Name Old City is Burning
Brewer’s Description CAPS LOCK! AROMA OF WOOD SMOKE AND BAKED BREAD. TOASTED MALT FLAVOR WITH A COMPLEX SMOKE CHARACTER THAT LINGERS IN THE FINISH. A TRUE CAMPFIRE BEER.
Food Pairings Brisket poutine with shredded meat plus fried egg
Brewer Location Phlipadelphia, PA
Alcohol content by volume 5.3%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) uhh?
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.25
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N Y, but almost no
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.8

In west Philidelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days:

http://www.2ndstorybrewing.com/

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Brewery Vivant – Undertaker – 4 smokestacks out of 7

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Not a smokebeer, but the label says subtle smokiness so this investigation ensued. Undertaker is alright. I’d drink it again. My friend is an undertaker and says people are dying to see him. Probably not the case with this beer, but that shouldn’t be held against Vivant. Inspired in name after an actual undertaker, given that Brewery Vivant currently (2017) occupies an old funeral home. We’ll just assume he or she enjoyed Belgian style dark ales that carry a surprisingly refreshing aftereffect. Not much head as you can see (I suppose) and not much to really offend the drinker. Just a middle of the road dark beer that lured SBM into reviewing it. A net gain undertaking. Overall score = 4 smokestacks.

Brewer Brewery Vivant
Beer Name Undertaker
Brewer’s Description  Belgian Inspired Dark Ale: 100% Michigan hops, roasted coffee notes, hints of black fruit dipped in chocolate, subtle smokiness with a surprisingly light body.
Food Pairings Grilled Steak. Blue cheese or smoked gouda
Brewer Location Grand Rapids, MI
Alcohol content by volume 6.7%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) X minutes, plus Y, carry the one, umm, its silliness…
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.8
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4.4
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 4

Solid website they have:

https://www.breweryvivant.com/

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Earthen Ales – Ale of the Earth – 3 smokestacks (out of 7)

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No ghost writers here. Mike Lorr, friend of the ministry and honorary minister gets all the glory for drinking, evaluating, and writing about this one. All the way up in Traverse City, Michigan, a place called Earthen Ales offers up Ale of the Earth for a SmokeBeerMinistry appraisal. This smooth malty sweet beer is rounded out by a pleasant smoked overtone. Earthen Ales loves smokebeer and plan to use this beer as inspiration to make a true rauchbier soon. The ministry awaits his arrival. Until then, Ale of the Earth gets 3 smokestacks out of 7… gotta amp it up folks.

Brewer Earthen Ales
Beer Name Ale of the Earth
Brewer’s Description An eminently drinkable English-style ale, the Ale of the Earth is bold enough to keep you company on a cold winter night and also sprightly enough to quench your summer thirst. Watch for special editions featuring special additions such as coffee, chocolate, chestnuts, and more!
Food Pairings chips and dip
Brewer Location Traverse City, MI
Alcohol content by volume 4.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 30
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 3

The website is due for an update. Don’t hire a guy, just get in there and poke around people of Earthen:

https://www.earthenales.com/

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Left Hand Brewing – Fade to Black – 3.9 out of 7 smokestacks

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Left Hand makes good beer, and even in this case, well, it’s ok. I sure remember their Smoke Jumper beer, and I remember someone online erroneously claiming that this, Fade to Black, was also a smokebeer. I am here to tell you that Fade to Black is not a smokebeer. No big deal in that respect, and given that the brewers description stated “smoked relationships” along with the cool looking the label, combined were alluring enough to bring this beer into the tabernacle. Notes that hit the nose start off with hops, and then follow with distant and muddled roasted chocolaty malt scents. The taste comes out of left field with bitter, tart, even sour, and something else that I guess is the licorice in there. I wondered if this was a potential black IPA that went awry somewhere and was re-marketed as something different, something that Left Hand can’t quite contain. This might be why they have 5, and counting, renditions of this beer (Volume 1-5) and still keep tinkering with the formula. Whatever the reasoning, it’s well made with a luxurious syrupy caramel colored film that slides down the inside of the glass with each sip. Left Hand makes good beer, but this one isn’t my cup of tea, or beer. Left hand is so close, but no cigar. Overall smokestack rating = 3.9 out of 7 smokestacks, just under an average 4 smokestacks.

Brewer Left Hand Brewing Co.
Beer Name Fade to Black
Brewer’s Description That time of year when the day seems to fade away. Drifting further into the darkness with each passing day. Volume 1 – Foreign Stout – Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes that give way to a feeling of self loathing, burnt opportunities and smoked relationships.
Food Pairings Chocolate, BBQ, Beef, Smoked meats, grilled meats.
Brewery Location Longmont, CO
Alcohol content by volume 8.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 30
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.9

Left Hand’s website:

http://lefthandbrewing.com/

and this’ll take you directly to the beer Fade to Black:

http://lefthandbrewing.com/beers/fade-to-black-vol-1/

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Oskar Blues – Old Chub – 4.4 smokestacks out of 7

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Oskar Blues is a well known and fairly well liked brewery out of Colorado. You’ve probably seen their cans out and about, like the green Old Chub, the red and blue Dale’s Pale Ale, and don’t they have a pilsner in a yellow can? And more to be sure. Speaking of, I got a chance to meet Dale of Dale’s Pale Ale when he was down in Texas doing some kind of junket with a bar down there. He turned my attention to the mash bill of Old Chub, where you can see even in the brewer’s description smoke is mentioned twice, so this felt like as good of a candidate for review (as any other non-smokebeer). I even stopped by the original Oskar Blues brewery the last time I was in Colorado… well over 37 pieces of flair stapled to the walls of that place. It’s a cool place. I don’t remember what I ate but I know I felt like a hippy when I ate it (perhaps due to the recreational marijuana wafting in from the dispensary down the street). But what about the beer you ask? This beer smells like a good scotch ale to me. And it tastes like a good scotch ale from the tap, not too surprising coming from a can. It registered with a medium darkness metric (4 smokestacks out of 7), and delivered a malty and dry swig. I’ve had this beer before and I’m familiar with their beer. They’re pretty consistent, and every time I have Old Chub, I think there’s just a bit too much carbonation in there. Thousands of tiny bubbles, which is somehow different from most every other beer, at least to me it is. But that’s no big deal. I like this beer. Overall score = 4.4 out of 7. I wonder who the Old Chub is?

Brewer Oskar Blues
Beer Name Old Chub
Brewer’s Description This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale (8% ABV) is brewed with bodacious amounts of malted barley and specialty grains, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malt. Old Chub features semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a wee-bit of smoke. A head-turning treat for malt heads and folks who think they don’t dig dark beer.
Food Pairings Big juicy hamburgers
Brewery Location Longmont, CO
Alcohol content by volume 8%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 25
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.75
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.4

Their website is cool, works, phone and desktop.

https://www.oskarblues.com/beer/oldchub

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Harmony Brewing Company – Black Squirrel Smoked Porter – 5.5 smokestacks

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Erected inside an old sausage factory, the aromas of Harmony might remind you of an old pub in Germany. But, as you may have guessed, Harmony is one of the many places that have opened recently. Established in Grand Rapids, MI in 2012, and expanded in 2015, and again in 2017, Harmony has shown that it is great time to rake in all the profits you can until it all implodes (hopefully not, of course); especially with this beer, Black Squirrel, garnering a solid 5.5 smokestacks out of 7. There was not a consensus at the round table for this one, but the voice of dissension was not from a ministry official. In cases like these, we give them the microphone for one fleeting moment, and then wonder why we would ever think that was a good idea. Regardless of whether or not the voice of intolerance should be tolerated, the word “underwear” was agreed to be included in this review. Smoke on the nose, peat on the palate, squirrel in the name. Solid beer for grownups. Wash down an over sized hamburger with this one, I did.

Brewer Harmony Brewing Company
Beer Name Black Squirrel smoked porter
Brewer’s Description Peat-smoked porter. Roasty, smoky and bold.
Food Pairings Pub fare, sausage
Brewer Location Grand Rapids, MI
Alcohol content by volume 7.2%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) idunno
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 5.75
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 5.5

website’s ok…

http://harmonybeer.com/

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Lakefront Brewery – NATHAN Smoked Dark Lager – 6 smokestacks out of 7

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For several years now (2017) Lakefront Brewing has been issuing beers in their My Turn series where they allow employees to take turns making a beer of their choice. And two of those were smokebeers that SmokeBeerMinistry was fortunate enough to get and review. This beer, NATHAN, smells spot on. Rich campfire smoke wafts all around with a deep ruby hue peeking through glass. The other smokebeer SBM reviewed, Luther, was a light beer and shared similar campfire notes; which you can read about here. But NATHAN was the one to win a major award from the Los Angeles Beer Competition, Gold, I think. And they deserve it too. This beer holds on to crisp beer flavors enough to allow you to drink three or four (or five) of these while grilling out in the evening, instead of pulling you down for the last beer you’ll have that night. And, while I expected to have more useful notes on this beer, what I actually only have before me here as I write, is the tough task to transliterate what a SBM member scribbled on a piece of cardboard in some state of inebriation. I’ll give you the highlights of what I can decipher: Meel ee you wahk kay, Toni Erdmann, there is a storm outside, I’ve been drinkin, this is great beer, proper smokebeer, and Ruby, ruby, ruby, ruby soho. That’s all I got. High score for a team out of Wisconsin, which should be expected. 6 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Beer Name Nathan – Smoked Dark Lager
Brewer’s Description Nathan’s our bottling room technician. He conducts the chaos of clanging glass and hissing air as bottles get filled with beer and stickered with labels. So, you have him to thank for getting our beer into the bottle that ends up in your hand. The inspiration for Nathan’s My Turn™ hit him while drinking an Eastside Dark™ around a campfire. This dark, caramelly German-style lager has just enough smoked malt to give it an interesting depth, but still finishes crisp.
Food Pairings Grilled or smoked entrees, bbq pork ribs, bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp, smoked salmon, ziti with grilled portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions
Brewer Location Milwaukee, WI
Alcohol content by volume 5.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units)  uhh
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 6
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5.5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2.25
Overall Happiness Rating: 1-7 (low – high) 6

Their website is slow… or its just me:

http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com/beer/my-turn-series/nathan

And here’s a link to their award, down on page 9, which, while scrolling I thought, “this is kinda ridiculous”:

http://fairplex.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2017beerresults.pdf?sfvrsn=0

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Meantime (do-over review) – Old Smoked Bock – 3 out of 7

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Well, Meantime Old Smoked Bock is getting better, slightly. This is a do-over review after the last bottle caught some kind of disease, destroying the beer. A friend of the ministry named Mugs requested this beer get a do-over after he experienced something more positive than what was described here in the original review. “Fair enough” we said, so here we are. And if the carbonation were a metric, we would have only hopped up 2 notches, at best. And even with this little carbonation seen in this picture, it was still a big improvement from the last one we got. After that, I noted that it smelled alright, also I pulled out flavors of smoke, bread, malt, something sweet (almost Belgian), a touch bitter (presumably imparted by a familiar hops flavor that I can’t quite pinpoint). This beer reminds me of Ft. Collins darker beers, Epic’s beers, and a handful of some German brews that have been on the shelf a bit too long. The search for a smokebeer epiphany will continue. Overall smokestack metric = 3 smokestacks out of a possible 7 smokestack rating.

Brewer Meantime Brewing
Beer Name Old Smoked Bock
Brewer’s Description It appears that the Meantime has disassociated themselves from this beer. No company provided description can be found.
Food Pairings Hearty warm winter food; casseroles, heavily sauced meats, or strong cheese with tangy pickle and brown bread (Michael Jackson)
Brewery Location London, England
Alcohol content by volume 6.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units)  no
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil)
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3 (after do-over)

Meantime still has nothing to say about this beer:

https://www.meantimebrewing.com/

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