Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Barleywine – 6 out of 7 (not a smokebeer)

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In my travels during smokebeer hunts, I stumble across some of the more highly sought after beers. SmokeBeerMinistry’s emphasis will stick with smokebeers, but periodic investigations into all the hubbub will materialize, as seen here.

This is an excellent barleywine. Goose Island’s Bourbon County Barleywine Ale has matched the only other time that SBM has had a great barleywine beer. The first time was around 2006 when a brewer at The Great Dane Pub in Madison, WI made a one-off special brew that had to sit in one of their brewing tanks for over a year to process properly (a great sacrifice for a small operation). I got to try that beer at the release where they only offered half snifters in the hopes of getting it out to as many people as possible. Ever since then I have sought out that taste never to find its equal, until now.

Bourbon County Barleywine smells very similar to the regular and much famed Bourbon County Brand Stout beer but with deep cherry notes more so than vanilla. I had them both on hand to help pull out similarities, of which there weren’t too many, and to add an element of regality and intoxication into my own life. This beer is sweet and tart. Flavorful robust stout notes make the beer’s time spent in a barrel value added. This beer is also helped along by the high booze count seemingly extracted from a fine wine. A cornucopia of dried fruits, coniferous rain forests, and leather furniture in a log cabin are included in this bottle. This is a good beer. I’m fairly drunk now.

Brewer Goose Island
Beer Name Bourbon County Barleywine Ale
Brewer’s Description Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.
Food Pairings deep dish pizza?
Brewery Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 12.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 60
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 0.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 0.5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 6
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 6 (not a smokebeer points)

Here’s a better image of the two, BCBS and BCBW, side by side and underlit.

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Learn more at:

http://www.gooseisland.com/our-beers/bourbon-county-brand-barleywine

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Pipeworks – The Roister – 2 out of 7 (not a smokebeer)

20160909_214937.jpgFor starters, roasted does not = smoked. But plenty of good smokebeers come with full-on roasted tastes, plus I stumbled across the word smoke in reviews and descriptions of this beer, and even on The Roisters own label, so I brought it in for this review. So, if this review is a bit harsh and disagrees with your own personal preferences in beer, consider this review invalid and continue drinking whatever swill you are into.

Smells roasted and not smoked. Interesting beer. I’m not getting any strawberry flavors, or rhubarb, or lemon balm (whatever the hell that is), just flavors of a mildly different, bad beer. I’ll go along with lemon peel flavors… that has had all lemon flavor washed out and is left with pith and paraffin to taste. Smells a little like roasted ashy stomach acid. What’s the point of all these silly ingredients? At least at this point in time (mid 2016), these kinds of beers are selling like hotcakes, so I presume the risk is fairly low. But at some point (soon I hope) the consumer will demand something more than dry, bitter, acidic sensations draining your mouth of all moisture, and at that point I would like Pipeworks to deliver. One free point due to The Roister being in the category not a smokebeer. Overall score 2 out of 7.

Brewer Pipeworks
Beer Name The Roister
Brewer’s Description Beer made with rosated strawberries, rhubarb, and lemon balm.
Food Pairings pallet cleansers
Brewery Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 6.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 60
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.2
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) 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 2

For a close up image of the label:

http://pdubs.net/roister/

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Marz Brewing – Smoak Simcoe IPA- 3 out of 7

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Smoak Simcoe by Marz Brewing of Chicago is a slightly floral, slightly short on smoke smelling, mostly skunky, less than mediocre IPA beer. A nice frothy head arose which fizzled down to what you see here, which held on for the duration of the drink. The bright golden color was expected considering its an IPA with high wheat content (smoked wheat, ushering it into SmokeBeerMinistry’s tasting room), along with the citrusy and floral notes. But the dry, bitter, and skunk left this beer resembling a bastard child of Mikkeller Rauchpils. One minister was overheard saying “Who likes this shit?” Overall, the result wasn’t that damning with a total smoakstack rating of 3 smoakstacks out of a total possible of 7 smoakstacks.

The other Marz beer did much better,  https://smokebeerministry.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/marz-brewing-smoke-wheat-everyday-5-7-out-of-7-smokestacks-of-happiness/

Brewer Marz Community
Beer Name Smoak Simcoe
Brewer’s Description No info online. Stricken from the memory of Marz.
Food Pairings Publican Quality Meats
Brewery Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 6.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 75
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

And their website sucks, see for yourself:

http://marzbrewing.com/

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Victory Brewing Co. – Earth & Flame smoked scotch ale – 5.5 out of 7

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Earth & Flame is Victory’s bourbon barrel aged smoked scotch-style ale. It poured nicely from this 1 pint plus 9.4 oz corked bottle and emitted big notes of barrel aging mimicking BCBS. Not too many scents of scotch ale, earth, or flame, and that follows through with the taste. This beer tastes like barrel aging that has been done right. Its a little tart, a lot boozy, and even though its a little thin for what I’d expect out of a barrel, the frothy head maintained its luster for the duration. I wonder what happens to other kinds of beers that are barrel aged? Because while drinking this I thought, “Is this a barreled scotch ale? Sure. A barrel aged lager? Maybe. A barrel aged pilsner? idunno.” My take away is that the barrel did such a number on this beer, that it’s hard to pick out much of anything else. Lucky for Victory that the final result is good. Final overall number of smokestacks awarded: a generous 5.5 out of 7.

Brewer Victory Brewing
Beer Name Earth & Flame
Brewer’s Description Earth & Flame was forged from the friendship of Victory Brewing and Earth-Bread+Brewery. With our shared passion for dark flavorful ales, we saw a great opportunity to collaborate on a scotch-style ale. Savor the rich flavors that emerge from the dark depths of this limited edition brew. With hints of sweet winter desserts and dark fruits, peat smoked malts, and fine bourbon barrel aging smooth the intensity of this complex ale.
Food Pairings Hamburgers
Brewery Location Downingtown, PA
Alcohol content by volume 11.7%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) maybe 20
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 1.5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 7
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.5

Learn more at

http://www.victorybeer.co

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Pipeworks – Kwingston’s Kitty Cat INA – 2 out of 7 smokestacks

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“Kwingston’s Kitty Cat-INA A meow-Gartita inspired pale ale brewed with agave nectar, smoked wheat, lime, orange zest, and salt” is just about the dumbest thing I’ve seen printed on a bottle since someone put an image of a guy shitting himself on their label. In this case, it is far less offensive. Maybe I’m being too hard on Pipeworks. I didn’t really read the bottle once I saw the word smoked printed on the side. And that includes a note which read’s “STOP – READ BEFORE OPENING…” and goes on to alert the consumer of sediment in the bottle (a kind gesture). And, I didn’t recognize a cat on the bottle until after I smelled it and detected notes of cat pee. I smelled smoke too, underneath the tangerine/grapefruit/cat pee. This beer tastes sweeter than it smells with citrus up and down in there. The margarita flavors come through in hints but not much more. This beer can easily classify as a beer, and not some off-putting carbonated Mexican imposter Zima drink. The more I drink it, the less I like it. Let’s hope the 7.2% abv kicks in pretty soon here or else I might pour this out. I wonder if Pipeworks smelled the ammonia and then thought it’d be funny to put a cat on the label? I wonder if they can make the same beer twice? Because their website shows hundreds of different beers including this very beer with 9% abv described, where my bottle states 7.2% abv. That’s not a good sign because even if the brewer stumbles upon a great recipe (and they did not in this case), they wouldn’t be able to replicate that even if they tried… mere speculation with the hope of being proven wrong. Overall (un)happiness metric – a stringent 2 out of 7 smokestacks. We wish you the best Pipeworks, give us a shout-out if you need some consulting.

Brewer Pipeworks
Beer Name Kwingston’s Kitty Cat-INA
Brewer’s Description A meow-garita inspired pale ale brewed with agave nectar, smoked wheat, lime, orange zest, & salt.
Food Pairings hand delivered fruit plate on a nice beach somewhere
Brewery Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 7.2%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 40
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 1.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.25
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 2

Pipeworks isn’t good with naming things, also noted in their web address:

http://pdubs.net/

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Evil Twin Brewing – The Cowboy smoked pilsner- 4.3 out of 7

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Floral hoppy notes on top of a nice frothy head. I smell an outdoor celebration beer. The taste jumps in with a bit too much bitterness that I was concerned about given the hops. There is smoke in there, deep, way deep down in there. The Cowboy smoked pilsner is a fair pilsner that could tone down the hops a bit, but an honest smoked pilsner that doesn’t get ridiculous with its ingredients, process, label, or name. This beer is a good beer for someone who wants something just a tad different from whatever they’re used to. Hopefully, this beer will persuade some to step into a bold, robust smokebeer. The Cowboy makes it just over the hump with an overall 4.3 smokestacks out of 7.

Brewer Evil Twin
Beer Name The Cowboy
Brewer’s Description I need to know what kind of beer cowboys drink, as I have recently become one. I want to be the best cowboy I can be, and I think drinking the correct beer is important. I already have a cowboy hat and a nice big shiny buckle?
Food Pairings Beans and jerky
Brewery Location Two Roads Brewing Co. CT
Alcohol content by volume 5.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) oh, 60, 70, something like that
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.3

You folks know about gypsy brewers? Evil Twin is one of them:

http://eviltwin.dk/About

 

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YO-HO Brewing – Tokyo Black – 4 out of 7 smokestacks

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Dark beer. The head fizzled quickly for me. Smoked malts smells rise up right away. Ashy notes. Hops are done just right, with limited range. This beer is malty, watery (which is fine, especially when you’re thirsty), carbonated. Charcoal flavors. Tokyo is a good porter… but not really a smokebeer, although the logo does offer some implications. This beer delivers smoky savoriness. Final overall rating = 4 out of a total of 7 possible smokestacks.

Brewer YO-HO Brewing
Beer Name Tokyo Black
Brewer’s Description Porter is an English traditional, dark-colored beer with roasted malt flavor. Beer of this style is popular not only in England but all over the world. We brew fresh and genuine Porter in Japan. Deep dark in color, Tokyo Black is a Porter with extremely rich taste and creamy top.
Food Pairings sushi
Brewery Location Saku City, Nagano, Japan
Alcohol content by volume 5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 34.5
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.9  (215 EBC)
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2.5
Sausage detection? Y or N 4
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks N
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4

Learn more at:

http://yohobrewing.com/e/company.html

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Buffalo Bayou – Smoke on the Bayou (Bourbon Barrel) – 3 out of 7

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Buffalo Bayou Brewing’s (Houston, TX) Smoke on the Bayou review is a twofer tasting, 1) its a first look at the Smoke on the Bayou Bourbon Barrel Special Batch #1 variant and 2) its a do-over for the paltry score Smoke on the Bayou received a few years back.

First things first, Smoke on the Bayou offered two variants, one barreled in Knob Creek bourbon barrels with white wax (above), and another aged in Jack Daniels barrels with black wax. And as any level headed connoisseur would respond, I bought the Knob Creek version. Upon pouring this one into our glasses weak notes of a port wine arose, smokepower smell was negligible. With a hushed tone in the room, sipping commenced. Brows were furled. Words were mumbled. “Tart, sweet, port wine, not good, seems sour, lemon sorbet, sausage – no, I like it better than the regular.” And then one Ministry official said “I ate his liver with some fava beans,” and mimicked Hannibal Lecter’s weird excitement thing that he does. Another quipped, “The more I drink it, the more I like it… but its not a smokebeer” And the final quote from this unusual tasting is my favorite, “Originally I said ‘not good’ but its not ‘not good’.” So there you have it readers, Smoke on the Bayou is not not good. Final score rounds out to a generous 3 out of 7 smokestacks.

Now for the do-over for the regular Smoke on the Bayou… I’ll keep this brief. In 2014 this beer was marked at 8% abv, and in 2016 its noted at 9% abv. What changed? Don’t care. The overall score came out with the same 2 out of 7 smokestacks, with several individuals arguing that this is not a smokebeer (and they’re right). Below are their respective charts. Sorry Buffalo, Houston deserves better.

Brewer Buffalo Bayou Brewing
Beer Name Smoke on the Bayou (Knob Creek Barrel Batch)
Brewer’s Description We smoked our malt with Blood Brothers Barbecue, Goode Company and Rockwell’s Tavern. The blended malt was used as the base for a strong scotch ale. Houston’s BBQ scene is literally infused in the malt of this beer. In a more spirited conversation, you might say these bottles are a little jacked up. (In a very good way.)
Food Pairings Barbecue, Beef, Smoked Meat, Game, Grilled Meat
Brewery Location Houston, Texas
Alcohol content by volume 9.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2.8
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3
Brewer Buffalo Bayou Brewing
Beer Name Smoke on the Bayou 2016
Brewer’s Description We smoked our malt with Blood Brothers Barbecue, Goode Company and Rockwell’s Tavern. The blended malt was used as the base for a strong scotch ale.  Houston’s BBQ scene is literally infused in the malt of this beer.
Food Pairings Barbecue, Beef, Smoked Meat, Game, Grilled Meat
Brewery Location Houston, Texas
Alcohol content by volume 9.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1 (a tawny 1)
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.5 (a winey 1.5)
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 2

Below is the original Smoke on the Bayou review from 2014, and a link to Buffalo Bayou’s website.

https://smokebeerministry.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/buffalo-bayou-brewing-smoke-on-the-bayou/

http://buffbrew.com/beers/secessionist

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Founders – KBS (2016) – 4 out of 7 (nonsmokebeer) smokestacks

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Here we are! The highly acclaimed Founders KBS. SmokeBeerMinistry is here to see what all the hubbub is about. We are fully prepared to view KBS from the ‘hey, I love beer’ standpoint, without even the slightest inclination to dock points due to a lack of smokepower. This review is also the third installment of SBM’s Founders Trifecta compare and contrast blog (Founders Dirty Bastard, Backwoods Bastard, and KBS).

Having not even read the label, I smelled chocolate right after opening this one. I feel tingling on my tongue from all the booze… and it lingers (kind of neat). Out of all the chocolate beers, this one does chocolate the best. That tingling is moving into an almost spicy sensation. Is there heat in this? I don’t know where it might come from, peppers, yeast, secret ingredient? Well, regardless of that mystery (which may be chemically induced on my end), I think KBS is a boozy beer from lesser used ingredients that don’t work as well together as one would expect from a well orchestrated symphony. I really only know about rare beers that nobody wants, but I stumbled across KBS and felt compelled to review it. I did the same for Bourbon County Barrel Stout which happened to score a good bit higher. I do understand those Facebook shit-shows where some goon fills a pitcher of whatever beer, and then slams it down with a few, fast, face drenching chugs. But not with this beer. KBS approaches deliciousness with their formula, but must rely on notoriety and low production volumes to excite their fan base into their own state of bliss. Final score 4 out of 7 non-smokebeer smokestacks.

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This review completes the trifecta with a sad trombone

Brewer Founders
Beer Name KBS
Brewer’s Description What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight.
Food Pairings Fried chicken for breakfast
Brewery Location Grand Rapids, MI
Alcohol content by volume 12.4%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 70
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1 (but a 6 in chocolate smell)
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1 (but a 5 in chocolate taste)
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3.3
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4

Learn more at:

foundersbrewing.com/our-beer/kbs/

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Founders – Backwoods Bastard – 5.1 out of 7 (nonsmokebeer) smokestacks

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So this isn’t a smokebeer, but it is barrel aged Dirty Bastard, which notes “hints of smoke and peat,” and, Founders own description includes the word smoke, so here we are. Furthermore, having stumbled across and picking up a KBS this year, I thought this was a good time to compare the three, Dirty Bastard, Backwoods Bastard, and KBS. Backwoods Bastard in smokebeer metrics isn’t faring so well, and even in just beer metrics, I’m inclined keep the search going. I’m searching for a beer that I can unashamedly overpay for, over store (in my beer closet), over serve myself, and overemphasize its glory to my friends (my overweight friends). This beer is boozy (11.6%) without enough flavonoids to balance it out (meaning units of flavor, not actual flavonoids), and the barrel power, while flavorful, is not helping. It’s too thin to compel my pallet to keep drinking. I want a beer that tempts me to take chugs. I want to try KBS… its up next. Until then, Backwoods Bastard gets a VERY GENEROUS 5.1 out of a total 7 smokestacks of non-smokebeer units of happiness.

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Brewer Founders
Beer Name Backwoods Bastard
Brewer’s Description Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.
Food Pairings Pub fare
Brewery Location Grand Rapids, MI
Alcohol content by volume 11.6%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 50
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3.5
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.1

Learn more at:

foundersbrewing.com/our-beer/backwoods-bastard

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Founders – Dirty Bastard – 5 out of 7 (non smokebeer smokestacks)

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Revisiting the first ever smokebeer tasting (as seen in “Madison photo and spreadsheet”) you’ll notice Dirty Bastard in the lineup. Reason being, the brewers description includes the phrase “hints of smoke and peat” which is often all it takes to get SBM to offer a smokestack rating. Furthermore, given how smokebeers can wash the taste buds right off your tongue, it’s good to start tastings with the lighter end of the spectrum before moving into the heavier stuff, which is what we did. And hints of smoke and peat is almost exactly right, although more so peat than smoke. Nice frothy head, sound viscosity, a bit too bitter for my pallet, but comes off as a well rounded scotch ale. The fleeting notes of smoke echo late night campfires, but still fall short of moving this beer into the smokebeer category. Having said that, the next 2 reviews will be for Backwoods Bastard (the barrel version of this very beer), and the elusive Founders KBS because, well, SmokeBeerMinistry wants to know just what all the kerfuffle is about. Overall impression of Dirty Bastard – 5 out of 7 non-smokebeer smokestacks. 

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Comparison trifecta shown above.

Brewer Founders
Beer Name Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale
Brewer’s Description So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads’.
Food Pairings Pub fare
Brewery Location Grand Rapids, MI
Alcohol content by volume 8.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 50
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

Learn more at:

foundersbrewing.com

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X Beeriment – Black Force One Smoked Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Edition) – 5.9 out of 7

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I like this one better! (better than the Black Force One regular beer which I just reviewed, scroll down for that). That’s one difference I pulled out… the barreled beer is better. Another difference is the viscosity. It poured like syrup. Now, I’m no chemist with all the proper tools and gizmos, no, I just use the light on my phone, I hit it from the side. My light only penetrated at most one centimeter into the glass with the phone pressed up to the edge of the glass. This beer smells pretty much like the regular Black Force One with peaty note a bit more subdued (which is an improvement). Although peat flavors can be and have been done right, I’d rather avoid them altogether, like goat cheese… I’ve been conned too many times. Bourbon Barrel Edition is coming off sweeter, less bitter, both for the better. It seems like this one has more booze in it, but the labels read the same 10.4%. Maybe because I’ve had two the abv is catching up. In this beer, in this case, barrel aging makes it better. Overall happiness metric = 5.9 smokestacks, out of 7.

Brewer Xbeeriment
Beer Name Black Force One Bourbon Barrel Edition
Brewer’s Description Our basic idea with this beer originated while making Xbeeriment Barack. When we’d done that we thought “What if we took it further?” So we decided to go for it and create an Imperial Stout made with 5 different kinds of malt including substantial amounts of peat smoked malt, roasted barley and 3 different hop varieties. We then added a 4th variety for dry hopping. Finally it was bottled unfiltered, bottle conditioned and left to mature in the bottle for 2 months before release. Serve at 12-14 degrees Celcius (53-57 degrees Fahrenheit)… and then aged in a barrel SBM
Food Pairings Hamburgers
Brewery Location Roskilde, Denmark (by Herslev Bryghus)
Alcohol content by volume 10.4%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 6
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.9

No links to the X Beeriment organization can be found at this time.

Black Force One non barrel edition review:

https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/smokebeerministry.wordpress.com

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X Beeriment – Black Force One Smoked Imperial Stout – 4.8 out of 7

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I found a similar beer called #44 barrel edition from XBeeriment a while back, but wasn’t able to get the regular #44 to compare the two, which I even mentioned in the review. Well, persistence paid off because just 2 years later I was able to find Black Force One smoked imperial stout regular and the barrel edition. So be sure to check the variant review to see how barreling changes a beer.

This beer is dark, but not thick. Peaty, charred, and smoky notes waft around. Black Force One strikes me as a good drinking beer, but not a good savoring beer. Reminds me of a thin BCBS. It just occurred to me that this beer review started with a story, then I noticed peat, then I mentioned another beer, and now I find myself struggling to turn my head away from the TV. My takeaway is that this beer is not good enough to hold my attention as a great smokebeer often does. It’s not showcasing flavors from all over the spectrum that typically garners high marks. Final rating = 4.8 smokestacks out of a total possible 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Xbeeriment
Beer Name Black Force One
Brewer’s Description Our basic idea with this beer originated while making Xbeeriment Barack. When we’d done that we thought “What if we took it further?” So we decided to go for it and create an Imperial Stout made with 5 different kinds of malt including substantial amounts of peat smoked malt, roasted barley and 3 different hop varieties. We then added a 4th variety for dry hopping. Finally it was bottled unfiltered, bottle conditioned and left to mature in the bottle for 2 months before release. Serve at 12-14 degrees Celcius (53-57 degrees Fahrenheit).
Food Pairings Hamburgers
Brewery Location Roskilde, Denmark (by Herslev Bryghus)
Alcohol content by volume 10.4%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.8

I cannot find any trace of Xbeeriment on the interwebs, but I haven’t checked the darkweb yet, so you might want to try that if so inclined.

Also, compare and contrast this with Black Force One Bourbon Barrel Edition which you may not see depending on how you’ve stumbled across this post:

https://smokebeerministry.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/x-beeriment-black-force-one-bourbon-barrel-edition-5-9-out-of-7/

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Tyranena – Benji’s Smoked Imperial Porter brewed with chipotle pepper – 4.9 out of 7

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I like this beer. I don’t like the word ballsy on the label, which is their way of describing the entire Brewer’s Gone Wild series of beers. Beer culture does have an irreverent angle to it, but I’d like that to change (and I’m not alone), also, it hurts sales. We’re better than low brow humorists when we’re sober, and Tyranena’s beers are good enough to speak for themselves. This beer has a musty smell off the top. I can smell the porter in it. I can smell the peppers in it. Not so much Imperial though. This tingles the back of my throat. Tyranena makes good beer with a distinctly Wisconsin flavor in it, which I can’t describe. It’s good. Overall tasty smoky factor = 4.9 out of 7.

Brewer Tyranena
Beer Name Benji’s Smoked Imperial Porter brewed with chipotle pepper
Brewer’s Description Big black and smokey. An imperial porter, rich and full-bodied with a silky chocolate crown. Dark roasted flavors host the smokey character of wood-fired malt while chipotle peppers add a smoldering tickle of heat.
Food Pairings Smoked or blackened meat, toasted coconut cookies?, cow’s milk cheese like Tilsit
Brewery Location Lake Mills, WI
Alcohol content by volume 7.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 37
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N Y – chorizo
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.8
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.9

Learn more at:

Tyranena.com

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

Also, on the movement of cleaning up crude and overly simplistic beer humor:

https://www.beeradvocate.com/mag/14097/time-to-grow-up-beer-branding-cleverness-deficiency/

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Mikkeller – Chipotle Porter – 3 out of 7

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Below are my thoughts that were jotted down while drinking this beer:

Thick beer. Dark thick head. The head is so thick I can’t see my light for the opacity rating. Musty. Hot. Thick. Has Mikkeller ever made the same beer twice? Is this a smokebeer? Answer = Yes. For our purposes, if the ingredients are smoked, then it gets reviewed at SmokeBeerMinistry. A chipotle pepper is a smoked jalapeno. Great lacing. Darkness. If you like pepper beers, drink this. Mikkeller does their homework. What will help? – Sweetness, a different yeast, more booze, bamberg smoked peppers (beechwood I believe)… There’s your new recipe Mikkeller. Overall metric of approval – 3 out of 7

Brewer Mikkeller
Beer Name Chipotle Porter
Brewer’s Description A very special and complex dark ale, brewed with American hops and malt, and made particularly unique by the addition of warming chili and hints of vanilla.
Food Pairings Chicken wings
Brewery Location Lochristi-Hijtfte, Belgium
Alcohol content by volume 6.6%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 7
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2.5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y – chorizo
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

I think their US importer does a better job informing the public of their beers than Mikkeller does. Regardless, here are their websites:

Brewery   –    http://mikkeller.dk/

Importer   –   http://www.sheltonbrothers.com/booze/

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Birrificio del Ducato – Brett Peat Daydream – 4 out of 7

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It’s that Italian beer company again (Birrificio) with a confusing note on the bottle about a 16.5% portion of the beer having been in a scotch whiskey barrel, and NOT a 16.5% abv. The abv is for this 11.2oz bottle is 7%. Be careful with this one, there is silt in this bottle (yeast). Proper pouring techniques should be utilized, which may be difficult if you’ve been drinking. Tart. I taste scotch. This beer brings back memories of something. Oh my, this is sour! I once bought some peated scotch from this fancy Vom Fass place for like $30 for a 2 oz fancy looking, tall and pointy, bottle. It wasn’t worth it, and this beer reminds me of it for both the taste and price (an expensive $12.99 for one 11.2 oz bottle). The smell and taste do not seem to match up. The taste of peat is subtle enough to keep you sipping. Definitely related to everything Birrificio (which always come in those funny looking bottles shown above), even for those only slightly familiar with their product. Tastes in order of appearance on my palate: Sour, scotch, barrel, light peat smoke, musty basement. Scores of 1, 2, or 3 = Bad. Scores of 5, 6, or 7 = Good. Overall score for Brett Peat = 4.

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Brewer Birrificio Del Ducato
Beer Name Brett Peat Daydream
Brewer’s Description In the glass, the nose and the palate… This Smoked Sour beer has an intense golden color with opalescent reflections. The foam is abundant, of fine texture and color cream. The aroma is unsettling, intense and pronounced: clear presence of smoked malts and obvious notes of straw and peat fires. The sour note Brett is manifested in a delicate and progressive with freshness and citricità unmistakable. At first sip jumps to tongue the pleasant tingling of spontaneous fermentation, which after a while gives way to a smoky dryness and savory. A medium body and consistent, bitter phenolic and slightly astringent that detects the presence of Brettanomiceto. A succession of contrasts that come together in a synergistic and elegant balance.
Food Pairings Spicy meatballs, Pizza
Brewery Location Roncole Verdi di Busseto PR, Italy
Alcohol content by volume 7%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2, a sour 2
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4

Check out their site:

http://www.birrificiodelducato.it/default?lng=en

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5 Rabbit Brewery – 5 Vulture – 2* out of 7 (not a smokebeer)

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So, to start this one off, please note this beer is NOT A SMOKEBEER, and therefore should not be judged against other smokebeers. Therefore this review uses the same metrics, but gives the overall score as if it were a recommendation for any friend or foe, looking for some advice on which beer to buy.

I didn’t know Bedford Park was a hotbed for Oaxacan style beer (pronounced Wuh-hah-khan). Didn’t know Oaxaca was a hotbed for beer, or even had a style. I also didn’t think  the term “mulato” was a PC term. I heard somewhere that it referenced the word mule. Nonetheless, 5 Vultures brewed with ancho and mulato chilies are not smoked chilies like chipotle peppers (smoked jalapenos), and therefore should not be viewed in kind. Regardless, this bitter, bland, watery mixture that stings my tongue doesn’t bring me any closer to the water into wine epiphany that the minsters of SmokeBeerMinistry are searching for. Other notable flavors pulled out includes stale beer from a southern Tennessee pool hall, DUIs, and desperation. I drink plenty of non-smoked beer, I know good beer, and I don’t like this beer. Final score: 2 out of 7 non smokebeer smokestacks.

Brewer 5 Rabbits Brewing
Beer Name 5 Vultures
Brewer’s Description The 5’s are the heart and soul of our 5 Rabbit. Beers that are layered and complex, yet surprisingly easy to drink. Very well balanced through careful use of specialty ingredients. Designed to be paired with food.
Food Pairings Carne asada, chorizo, mole, cochinta pibil, hamburgers
Brewery Location Bedford Park, IL
Alcohol content by volume 6.4%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 2

They have a website:

http://www.5rabbitbrewery.com/

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Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout – 5 out of 7

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Anybody ever heard of this one? Well, funny story here, 6 or 7 years ago, when I held my first smokebeer tasting ever (even before SmokeBeerMinistry), I hadn’t heard of BCBS. But my friendly beer store guy heard I was looking for smokebeers, and directed me to a 6pack of BCBS and said, “I think there’s smoke in this.” And that’s all it took. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to find this beer again until after an InBev aquisition, production surge, and market flooding. Nonetheless, here it is again, and I’m going to review it with a clean slate, and pretend that I never got wind of any infection smear campaign (pushback from the InBev aquisition?)

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So, BCBS is not a smokebeer but it says “smoke” right there on the label. Plus, with all the strolling up and down the beer aisle that I do, I was bound to trip over some of the more highly sought after beers, so why not review it? Speaking of this label, “Intense aromas of charred oak, vanilla…” is spot on. The “caramel & smoke” parts on the other hand, could be improved upon. No big deal there, the flavors are so robust, and the booze is so boozy, that I forgot all about the underfunded smoke aroma. BCBS makes me glad I’ve been able to come around to the barrel aging. These flavors work together to deliver perfectly added luxury. I am also picking up some chocolaty flavors on my alcohol induced tingling tongue. This good, rich beer should be poured into a snifter, but I’m perfectly happy with my 06/13 marker level on this big glass. Overall happiness metric for this great night capper beer = 5 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Goose Island
Beer Name Bourbon County Brand Stout
Brewer’s Description Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hold with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer. A great cigar beer.
Food Pairings deep dish pizza?
Brewery Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 14.2%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 60
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 7
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

A couple of add-on metrics:

Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 7
Barrel Power 1-7 (in name only – burns nose) 6

Learn more at:

http://www.gooseisland.com/index.html

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The Bling Pig Brewery – Rauchweizen – 5 out of 7

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Gotta keep this one brief… Tastes like a wheat beer with smoke down in there somewhere. You will not miss the wheat, it’s a big wheaty beer, which is just fine, pretty sweet. Rauchweizen really reminds me of Crop Circle Wheat from The Great Dane out of Madison, WI, but with a touch of smoke in it. The smoky notes seem to build as I get down farther into the glass. And the bartender’s knowledge on yeast and how it changes the flavor profile of beers, and the timing of yeast, and all ingredients included during the brewing process, is robust. This beer is good. Overall, 5 smokestacks out of 7. I sure would like more smoke.

Brewer The Blind Pig
Beer Name Rauchweizen
Brewer’s Description Our Rauchweizen is a Bamberg-style smoked hefeweizen. Twenty-five percent Beech smoked German malt puts a lovely smoky spin on our fruity wheat beer. ABV 5.4%
Food Pairings Roast pig w/ apple in mouth
Brewery Location Champaign, IL
Alcohol content by volume 5.4%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.1
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

Check out their OK website:

http://blindpigco.com/

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Marz Brewing – Smoke Wheat Everyday – 5.7 out of 7 smokestacks of happiness

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If you know Grodziskies (Gratzers), then you’re prepared for this beer. The wheat composition and light power of alcohol compels you to rock back, slouch, and soak in the setting sun. After working all day in my yard, it’s easy to bask in the libations liberation. This beer looks like a wheat beer, a light wheat beer (if there is such a thing), especially for anything SmokeBeerMinistry reviews, and this beer tastes like a medium Bamberg smoked wheat, AND that is just about exactly what a Gratzer is supposed to be. A brewer once pointed out to me that if a brewer makes a beer plain enough, they would probably offend the least number of people (and sell that beer), and that’s why nobody can tell the difference between vast numbers of American lagers. Gratzers are the lagers of the smokebeer world… great if you want to drink 11 of them, and with Smoke Wheat Everyday, I certainly could. This beer is just a bit tart, little sour, modestly wheaty, modestly smoky, and pontifically liberating. If only SBM could decree that all lagers (and pilsners for that matter) be replaced with Grodiskies. Final overall happiness metric: 5.7 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Marz Community Brewing
Beer Name Smoke Wheat Everyday Grodziskie
Brewer’s Description (Ripped from Chicago Reader article) …Brewer Alex Robertson says, they use 100 percent smoked wheat malt and Saaz hops. They then combine three parts of the Grätzer with two parts of their Berliner Weisse (a sour beer style that also dates back several hundred years), which is brewed with a sour culture that Robertson developed himself. “When we tried the straight smoked beer we thought it was good, but the sour really brightened it up,” Roberson says. “It has a smoky quality kind of like bacon, then a sour-apple background note.”
Food Pairings Publican Quality Meats
Brewery Location Chicago, IL
Alcohol content by volume 5.5%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 1.9
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2.9
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.7

Feel free to learn more at their irritating website:

http://marzbrewing.com/

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Stone – 6th Anniversary Porter (Bottle) – 3.5 out of 7

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Good news… this beer tastes ALMOST EXACTLY like the Stone 6th Anniversary Porter on draft. It is so similar that I am going to copy and paste most of my review of the draft below. I will say this however, the beer in the bottle was a little less bitter.

Stone 6th Anniversary Porter tastes a good bit like all their other smoke beers. A little less smoky (4.5 smokestacks of smokepower taste) and more hoppy. It tastes acidic, which makes sense, this recipe is one of their old recipes that they dusted off from about 15 years ago, started making again, and just this year sent it out into their supply chain. One thing that I know about craft beer 15 years ago was that we were all discovering hops, and Stone was a main offender for pumping copious amounts of hops into just about everything. Nowadays we’re lazered in on gose and barrel aging… (Texas is just now discovering hops). And after a few sips, I’m thinking, “maybe I can’t taste the smoke anymore.” Color =4 smokestacks of darkness. It’s a thinner beer, light penetration at 1.5 inches. Smokepower smell is 4 out of 7 with a light sausage detection, just a touch of meatiness in this beer. The bitter acidity keeps bouncing around in my head though. I must say, I’m a little bummed, I was excited about this one, although I guess I shouldn’t be, assuming that there was a legitimate reason that Stone quit making this in the first place. I like this less than the regular Stone Smoked Porter, which is mediocre at best. Overall happiness metric = less than mediocre = 3.5 smokestacks.

Brewer Stone Brewing
Beer Name 6th Anniversary Porter
Brewer’s Description We celebrated our first five years in business by releasing anniversary India pale ales, with each subsequent IPA brewed to be hoppier and more intense than the previous. For our 6th anniversary in 2002, we extended this concept by making an intensified version of Stone Smoked Porter. We cranked up the malts and hops a notch or three and conditioned it on French and American oak, which accentuated our porter’s distinctive smokiness and amplified its chocolate and roast coffee flavors while also adding subtle notes of toffee, cherries, dried berries and vanilla. We’re proud to give those who missed out—as well as those who didn’t—a fresh shot at experiencing this smoky, dark-as-night wonder.
Food Pairings Chicken mole, rib-eye steak, penne w/ marinara, baby back ribs, risotto w/ shittake mushrooms
Brewery Location San Diego, CA
Alcohol content by volume 8%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 60
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.5

Learn more at the potentially “too much of a good thing” website:

http://www.stonebrewing.com/beer/20th-anniversary-encore-series/20th-anniversary-encore-series-6th-anniversary-porter#ageGatePassed

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Stone – 6th Anniversary Porter (Draft) – 3.5 out of 7

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Stone 6th Anniversary Porter tastes a good bit like all their other smoke beers. A little less smoky (4.5 smokestacks of smokepower taste) and more hoppy. It tastes acidic, which makes sense, this recipe is one of their old recipes that they dusted off from about 15 years ago, started making again, and just this year sent it out into their supply chain. One thing that I know about craft beer 15 years ago was that we were all discovering hops, and Stone was a main offender for pumping copious amounts of hops into just about everything. Nowadays we’re lazered in on gose and barrel aging… (Texas is just now discovering hops). And after a few sips, I’m thinking, “maybe I can’t taste the smoke anymore.” Color =4 smokestacks of darkness. It’s a thinner beer, light penetration at 1.5 inches. Smokepower smell is 4 out of 7 with a light sausage detection, just a touch of meatiness in this beer. The bitter acidity keeps bouncing around in my head though. I must say, I’m a little bummed, I was excited about this one, although I guess I shouldn’t be, assuming that there was a legitimate reason that Stone quit making this in the first place. A friend of mine spotted it on the Crane Alley Champaign, IL menu and alerted me of its whereabouts so I raced down here to drink it, and now I am having a hard time keeping up my excitement, I must admit that I like it less than the regular Stone Smoked Porter, which is mediocre at best. Overall happiness metric = less than mediocre = 3.5 smokestacks.

Brewer Stone Brewing
Beer Name 6th Anniversary Porter
Brewer’s Description We celebrated our first five years in business by releasing anniversary India pale ales, with each subsequent IPA brewed to be hoppier and more intense than the previous. For our 6th anniversary in 2002, we extended this concept by making an intensified version of Stone Smoked Porter. We cranked up the malts and hops a notch or three and conditioned it on French and American oak, which accentuated our porter’s distinctive smokiness and amplified its chocolate and roast coffee flavors while also adding subtle notes of toffee, cherries, dried berries and vanilla. We’re proud to give those who missed out—as well as those who didn’t—a fresh shot at experiencing this smoky, dark-as-night wonder.
Food Pairings Chicken mole, rib-eye steak, penne w/ marinara, baby back ribs, risotto w/ shittake mushrooms
Brewery Location San Diego, CA
Alcohol content by volume 8%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 60
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.5

Learn more at their overdone, almost confusing, website:

http://www.stonebrewing.com/beer/20th-anniversary-encore-series/20th-anniversary-encore-series-6th-anniversary-porter#ageGatePassed

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Meantime – Old Smoked Bock – 1 out of 7 (Smokestacks of sadness)

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Something went askew with this one. Inside this corked and sealed bottle was a malty, slightly sweet, and completely flat beerish flavored fluid. At first we thought this was a cask style beer, but even those have some fizzle to them. Not this. After a few diminishing sips it became evident that something went horribly wrong inside this bottle. Alright, we had to dump this shit out. Maybe it caught that Bourbon County infection… and then lost all carbonation. I’ll keep an eye peeled for this beer so we can politely offer a do over. In the meantime, Meantime is getting a 1.

Brewer Meantime Brewing
Beer Name Old Smoked Bock
Brewer’s Description It appears that 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)
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – used motor oil) 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 1

Learn more at:

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

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Ass Kisser – Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoked Porter Ale – 6 out of 7 Smokestacks

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Brewers have always known the promise in barrel aging, and I’ll admit that I was not an early adopter primarily because of how haphazardly the process is deployed by so many. Some have long since perfected the process, nonetheless when I see that practically cliched phrase stamped on a bottle nowadays, I proceed with caution. In the case of Ass Kisser Barrel Aged Smoked Porter, all is well in the world. Having tried Ass Kisser’s Porter Pounder and Stubborn Jack smokebeers before, and having given them both poor scores, I was thrilled to taste this robust beer, and then all too quickly drink the rest of this 750mL bottle. This beer is sour on the nose, like a bourbon barrel. Deep down in there is some smoke but the mildly tart barrel notes are upfront and taste great. There may even be a bit of chocolaty sweetness to it. I wonder if this is their regular Stubborn Jack recipe but barrel aged, I don’t think so, and I would ask but this place seems to have shuttered operations 2 years ago. That’s too bad because they really hit the nail on the head with this beer. I will say that this beer could be improved upon with an added beefy, smokier bite to it, which I suspect might be attained if they adjusted their “smokey blend” ratios a bit. “A bounty of rich flavors” finishes off the quote from the bottle and is right on point. Furthermore, there weren’t any floaties nor silt and yeasty submarines floating around in this beer which is always a plus. Well done Ass Kisser. Get the band back together and double down on this beer.

Brewer Ass Kisser
Beer Name Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoked Porter Ale
Brewer’s Description N/A
Food Pairings Hamburgers
Brewery Location San Diego? Ft. Worth? Chapter 11?
Alcohol content by volume 8.5%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 6

Feel free to figure out what’s going on with these Ass Kissers, because it looks like they shut down… maybe they’re on the dark web:

http://www.brewerydb.com/brewery/pqSkmD

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Rogue – Chipotle Ale – 4.5 out of 7

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I don’t really like pepper beers, but when smoke is involved, SmokeBeerMinistry gets involved, and this one is tasting pretty good. Not too peppery, and even less smoky… Wait, this tastes REALLY peppery, and slightly smoky. I’m drinking. Undeniably chipotle peppery, and it just so happens, I like chipotle. Maybe this is a gateway pepper beer… actually, you’d better not be on the fence before trying this one. Look, I’ve been drinkin. I don’t know. Focus. The spice hits the back of my throat. Rogue makes good beer. They should revive their smokebeer. This is good. Needs more smoke. Little bitter. Floral nose. Overall = 4.5 out of 7.

Brewer Rogue Ales & Spirits
Beer Name Chipotle Ale
Brewer’s Description Deep amber in color with a rich malty aroma, delicately spiced with smoked Jalapeno peppers to give it that extra bite!
Food Pairings Poultry, Pork
Brewery Location  Newport, Oregon
Alcohol content by volume 5.4%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 40
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1.5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y…Chorizo
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

go to their website if you want:

http://www.rogue.com/

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Le Trou Du Diable – Punkrauch – 4.5 out of 7

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I was too excited to let this one wait its turn and had to review it right away. Punkrauch, an unfamiliar beer, comes from an unfamiliar brewer (Le Trou Du Diable), with one badass image on the label. A cool bottle cap, a cool bottle, not to mention putting “rauch” in the name and clarifying that with the “Smoked Lager” descriptor alerting SBM that this beer was made by devotees (apparently one of the Hanson Brothers… uh, the Canadian Hanson Brothers, big difference). I popped off the devil bottle cap (seen left) and was not overwhelmed by a smoky smell. And the color, while dark, is not so dense, and allows light to pass through. Punkrauch tastes like a smokebeer, with Bamberg-esque malts, which faded pretty quickly. It poured nice and neat with a decent blond head that left nice lacing on the glass. Slight campfire smell and taste, slight sour notes; strikes me as a thirst quenching beer, which I would not equate with a $10 price tag and a champagne bottle. Emits a nice deep ruby hue when held up to a light, which was immediately followed by potentially visually induced tart notes of dried cherries, hmm. The verdict: I like this beer. It’s a little bit of pomp and circumstance, a bit overpriced, but still a pleasant drinking experience. Overall happiness metric 4.5 out of 7.

Brewer Le Trou Du Diable
Beer Name Punkrauch Smoked Lager
Brewer’s Description The PunkRauch is a brown lager smoke exhaling scents of cocoa and chocolate, amid smoking. The mouth, round and caramelized malt offers a sweet sensation and walnuts, all quickly fought through a resinous smoke that revives the spirit of the joy of childhood campfires.
Food Pairings Punk food
Brewery Location Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada
Alcohol content by volume 6.2%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

I hope your French is up to snuff:

http://troududiable.com/

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Surly Brewing – NEIN Ale (Imperial Smoked Dunkelweizen) – 5 out of 7

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Nein, Surly Brewing’s Imperial Smoked Dunkelweizen, is supposed to have smoke in it, and I guess it does. It smells sweet, smoky sweet, and tastes alright. It’s a sweet, smoky, dark, wheat beer with a slight campfire taste. It’s frothy head fizzled quickly. I’m not getting the cornucopia of flavors I was expecting, but I am getting some flavors: brown sugar, beechwood smoked malts, leather, wheat. Well, maybe that is a cornucopia. This beer is sweet like a great wheat beer is supposed to be, and NOT as if someone dumped a bunch of syrup into it. This is a good beer, a good smokebeer, although I am clearly not able to really hone in on the smoke all that well. I recommend this beer. Homebrewers, I encourage you to go out and clone this one. Overall = 5 out of 7.

Brewer Surly
Beer Name NEIN
Brewer’s Description Our ninth anniversary beer.    All of the malt in this anniversary beer comes from Weyermann Malting, a family-owned operation in Bamberg, Germany, which is the center of Rauchbier (smoked beers) in Germany. The inspiration came from a trip that head brewer Todd Haug took to Bamberg to visit the Weyermann facility. NEIN draws from the traditional banana and clove notes of hefeweizen yeasts and layers on deeper toned malt flavors, a distinctly smoky character from oak-smoked wheat malt and charred “honeycombs” of white oak.
Bottle artwork description Erica Williams, our 2014 Featured Artist, who also designed the artwork for Darkness 2014 and SurlyFest 2014, designed the artwork for NEIN. Her three-headed, three-eyed lion represents Surly’s 9th anniversary.
Food Pairings wiener schnitzel
Brewery Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Alcohol content by volume 9 – 10% Surly is cagey here
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

Learn more at:

surlybrewing.com

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Surly Brewing – SMOKE Lager – 6.5 out of 7

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I smell it through the bag, baby! Well, maybe not, because it’s not in a bag, and because, I can’t. But for those of you who recognize the reference, the sentiment is the same. Upon opening Surly’s SMOKE, arose the most perfect aroma, like a genie emerging from a bottle. Smells great, like campfires, smoked sausage, a beautifully healthy coniferous forest. Poured with notable viscosity and a short George Hamilton tan head. Man, this beer is robust! A mere 2 sips in and a deep complexity bubbled up to the surface. Malts, sweet molasses, evergreens, luxury, leather, holly, deep woods… Maybe this beer is making me hallucinate. Don’t do drugs, and weed counts as drugs. Are there any secret ingredients in this? This is a rich beer. I smell a great score approaching Surly SMOKE Lager. This is big time folks, Surly’s SMOKE is just about to score a 7 out of 7. An official review has to take place, and then the crown is placed. Hear ye, hear ye!

!Update! The Ministry has spoken. Surly’s SMOKE was given a closer look and unfortunately did not replicate the same results. The final tally is a very impressive 6.5 smokestacks out of 7. I know we were all excited to see the 7 out of 7 toyed around with, but a second tasting wavered from the original. On a side note, an unexpected outcome from the Ministry convening was for closer looks at a few other beers including Alaskan Smoked Porter.

Brewer Surly Brewing Co.
Beer Name SMOKE
Brewer’s Description SMOKELager-brewed with smoked malts, this Rauchbier is mellowed by oak-aging. Black malt flavors mesh with notes of raisins, plums, figs and licorice with the subtle smoke on the side.
Food Pairings Your favorite food
Brewery Location Minneapolis/Brooklyn Center, MN
Alcohol content by volume 8.2%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 7
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 6
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 6.5
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The Blind Pig – Smoked Vienna Lager – 5.8 out of 7 smokestacks

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This works! Smells just right and with only 23% beechwood smoked malts. Oftentimes brewers use copious amounts of smoked malts and manage to muddle the flavor up so much that its hard to tell if you are even drinking beer. Not here thankfully. Smells and tastes just like Bamberg intended. I feel that brewers must hammer out what they feel is a good foundation beer before branching out into uncharted libations and The Blind Pig has done that with this great statement beer. It’s as if they are speaking directly to SmokeBeerMinistry and saying, “Yes, we know how to do Rauch, so are we allowed to go forward?” SBM responds with a nod. Chart info is also below, but to sum up (and get this down before I forget); nose -4.5 , smokepower taste- 5, opacity – 3.3, sausage- Y, overall- a respectable 5.8. Much stronger than the across town competitor, but still shy of the 6+ mark, which could probably be achieved by bumping up the smoked malts to 30%-35% range… maybe more. Well done Blind Pig,  quite the refuge in the middle of an Illinois February.

Brewer The Blind Pig
Beer Name Smoked Vienna Lager
Brewer’s Description Smoked Vienna Lager is an unfiltered Bamberg style amber lager. Made with 23% beechwood smoked German malt and German 3470 yeast.
Food Pairings Vienna sausages
Brewery Location Champaign, IL
Alcohol content by volume 5.8%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 4.5
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5.8

Try to learn more on their rudimentary website:

http://blindpigbrewery.com/brewery.html

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Mob Craft – Tapping the Maple (Maple Smoked Beer) – 1.9 out of 7

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This recipe does not work. I know this without even tasting this beer because Mob Craft emailed me, and every other customer of this beer, and told us to dump this beer out or else it may explode. Apparently, this beer was exploding on people, and being the good corporate citizen that brewers are, Mob Craft issued a recall and said they were going to make it up to us with free future beer… I’ll have you know, however, they didn’t make it up with me. I followed up with them and their email / respond request, and they never returned my messages. I’ll let them off the hook this time, I mean who knows, they may be tied up in court paying for this debacle. This raises a question; If Mob Craft can’t even control a beer’s explosive nature, how well are they going to control the taste?

Well, let me tell you about the explosive nature. I went ahead and opened one as soon as I got the news and watched this foam over and out of the bottle; gushing over the top for several minutes. Then as I poured it into a glass, the real mess started, foam for days I tell you! Eventually, I got to taste it’s strong sweet metallic taste. It was like Kool-Aid flavored with a jar full of pennies. Taste has a hint of smoke, overpowered with sweet metallic syrup. This beer is too sweet. Its not as good as I was expecting… I’m ending the taste portion of this review right here. If you can find this beer out there nowadays, go ahead and skip this one.

Good things to say about Mob Craft: 1) Creative business model 2) Democratically selected beers brewed 3) Challenging brews 4) Displayed the word “smoked” on the label 5) Honesty (regardless of follow through)

These good things do not add up to a passing grade for this Maple Exploder beer. Final score includes one extra point for sending out that email: 1.9 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Mob Craft
Beer Name Tapping the Maple
Brewer’s Description Smooth sweet beer brewed with maple syrup, oats, and smoked malts.
Food Pairings Pancakes
Brewery Location Madison, WI
Alcohol content by volume 6.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 23
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2.3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 1.9

Learn more at:

https://www.mobcraftbeer.com/recipes/tapping-the-maple-d

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Gänstaller Bräu – Smoked Imperial India Pale Ale – 5 out of 7

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I opened this one up and was greeted with a very pleasant campfire smell which prompted me to say, “oooh!” This bottom fermented Smoked Imperial India Pale Ale poured nice as well and due to my personal pouring technique, the yeast and sediment held in place and did not stir and cloud up the beer at all, which is easy to lose sight of when drinking. The taste held up too with a nice campfire taste to it (not always the case to have the smell profile match the taste) and in this case, it’s pretty close. I’m getting a dry and slightly bitter taste as expected of IPAs, thankfully Gänstaller Bräu did not simply dump a bunch of hops into the brew in the hopes of blowing your fuckin mind, as seems to be the case for about 80% of all breweries 5 years old and younger. No, Gänstaller Bräu’s Smoked Imperial India Pale Ale is clearly steeped in tradition, well refined, where ingredients are used to balance out flavors and add stability to the beer. I don’t have much else to say. Overall desirability quantified in a roundabout analogistic metric where smokestacks represent increments in a bar graph: 5 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Gänstaller Bräu
Beer Name Smoked Imperial India Pale Ale
Brewer’s Description Master brewer Andreas Gänstaller specializes in both ultra-traditional German lagers and exerimental bottom fermented ales, made in small batches the old fashioned way but utilizing the finest modern European and American hops. Enjoy this world-class Franconian beer!
Food Pairings Indian food?
Brewery Location Hallerndorf, Germany
Alcohol content by volume 8.2%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

I’m afraid at the time of this posting, their website is under construction… haven’t seen that in a while:

http://www.ganstallerbrau.de/

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Ass Kisser – Stubborn Jack Smoked Porter Ale – 2 out of 7

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Smells like a thick, rich, and delicious barrel aged smoked beer. Looks and pours like one too. But the taste… where is the taste? My pallet was quite prepared for something at the opposite end of the spectrum, but that something never materialized. Stubborn Jack is like a super watered down Fore Smoked Stout. Stubborn Jack might take the cake for misrepresentation. This beer does not walk the walk. Upon further inspection the 6% abv. was one clue. Also, the opacity metric did measure light penetration at 2 inches (meaning there is less substance in the beer to stop light from passing through, even though it is fairly dark, like Coca Cola, it is also thin like coke, and doesn’t lace the inside of a glass very well. But the lack of taste is too surprising. From what I can gather out of this glass includes: slight smoke, slight ash, tastes like a porter (I will give them that), but I will not give them any repeat business. The Ass Kissers Porter Pounder was better… They should make that one again. Overall Smokestack Factor 2 out of 7.

Chart will be dropped in whenever I feel like it.

Until then, feel free to figure out what’s going on with these Ass Kissers, because it looks like they closed, at: http://www.brewerydb.com/brewery/pqSkmD

 

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Jopen / The Monarchy – Grätzer historic ale – 3 out of 7

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Its a snow day at SBM, so you are allowed to question The Witchdoctor’s sobriety.

A sour bitterness hits you front and center. Smells great. Tastes fine. The bitterness hides the wheat flavors. The smoke stands out. Tiny tiny bit of silt down in the bottom. Smells great. Tastes fine. Don’t tell me I’m repeating myself. Just a refresher; A Grätzer is a kind of smokebeer with a high wheat content and less alcohol. Smells, smells like beechwood smoked wheat. Tastes German, although its from The Netherlands, which is close enough, and used to be the same country I think. This beer has components of a good smokebeer, but it isn’t a good smokebeer, but close. Bitterness and smokiness is all that’s to this one. Overall Happiness metric stacks up at 3 out of 7 smokestacks.

There’s a rumor going around that this is the same beer as the Piwo Grodziskie reviewed back in 2014. It might be, and their ratings came out close enough to back up that claim. For whatever reason, Grätzer historic ale came out a bit smokier.

Brewer Jopen/The Monarchy
Beer Name Grätzer historic ale
Brewer’s Description An international coalition of historic brewing enthusiasts-Holland’s Browerij Jopen, Germany’s The Monarchy, and beer writers Ron Pattinson and Evan Rail-came together to revive this distinct Polish beer style. Brewed to the exact gravity of 7.7 Plato, crafted with 100% smoked wheat malt and Lublin hops, and fermented with the original yeast, it is an authentic recreation of the beer made at Grodzsisk Weilkopolski up until the local brewery’s closing in 1993. As the town has at different times belonged to both Prussia and Poland, so do we offer two different versions: Grätzer, the international 20th century recipe, and Grodziskie, the local medieval recipe, brewed with willow bark.
Food Pairings Polish sausage
Brewery Location Haarlen, The Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 4.0%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 1.9
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N Y… maybe
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

For more info:

http://www.themonarchybeer.de/Gratzer.html

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Destihl Brewery – 1920 Stout Imperiale – 5 out of 7

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Yep, this beer tastes a lot like the expensive beers are tasting nowadays… the expensive barrel aged ones. At $20 a bottle Destihl really does have to deliver a product that their customer is expecting, which in this case delivers a 6 out of 7 barrel power metric. Actually, its a “foudre” not a barrel, and its “imperiale” not imperial, and it’s “destihl” not distill, and yes, all that is stupid. Well, at least they aren’t writing in emojis, and they have a good cover every time they mispel smoething.

The tastes in 1920 are all over the place. I’m getting sweetness, like dried fruits rolled up into a giant Cuban cigar, smoked and chewed at the same time. But not too much smoke is getting through, which is fitting because this really isn’t a smokebeer. It does say “slight smoke” on the side of the bottle, and the Binny’s computer told me it was, so here we are. Even with the minimal smoke, there is plenty to keep me busy in this glass. A snifter would be more reasonable, but I’m happy with my pint’plus glass. I would be even happier with a bomber, or even a champagne bottle, all poured into a big ole stein, but now I’m getting into the value metric. Beer snobery isn’t a poor man’s game so I come prepared, but it still is frustrating when someone pushes the envelope in regards to getting my money. The taste is robust, asphalty, reminds me of The Bruery Smoking Wood, but less smoking. Destihl musta packed tons of grains and ingredients in there. It was a bold move to age for a year in a French Cognac oak foudre (which means barrel), which yielded a bold beer. Final score – a respectable and expensive 5 out of 7.

Brewer Destihl Brewery
Beer Name 1920 Stout Imperiale
Brewer’s Description In the spirit of the Franco-Belgian Military Accord of 1920, this beer unites a Belgian-style Imperial Stout with one-year aging in a French Cognac oak foudre, coalescing into aromas and flavors similar t dark roast coffee & dark chocolate, black cherries, plums, hints of molasses and slight smoke, all pairing beautifully with the French oak tannins, medium body, gentle warming and dry finish.
Food Pairings Illusions of upper middle class bar fare (must use words “creative, hand crafted, artisinal, fusion, local, and sustainable,” for approved public dialogue).
Brewery Location Bloomington, IL
Alcohol content by volume 11.64%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 82
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 7
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

For more info:  http://www.destihlbrewery.com/uploads/1920_brewed_by_DESTIHL.pdf

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West O Beer – Smoked Red Ale (Bottle) – 3.2 out of 7 smokestacks

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The ministry previously conducted a review of this very beer on draft; results were similar. This is a beer so proud of itself that it boldly displays SMOKED right in front there on the label. West O is granted one additional point for the ‘ease of use’ metric (not listed), which is much needed when smokebeer hunting. This review was conducted off site with newly ordained ministers of the ministry, and even with the doctrine freshly ingrained in their philosophies, they/we were unable to direct the conversation at the table to focus on the beer. This was a failure of the beer and not of the mettle of the ministry. And over the howls at the TV, which displayed cats getting startled by cucumbers, a few notes of wisdom were jotted down: “Nice color, Good starter smokebeer, not very smoky, Intro to smokebeer.” Also, there were a few drawings that I think were intended to look like smokestacks, but came out rather crude and will not be displayed here on this site. Final score 3.2 out of 7.

Brewer West O Beer
Beer Name Smoked Red Ale
Brewer’s Description Roasted malts yield nutty flavors mixed with caramelly dark fruit. Hints of forest and campfire; low bitterness. 6.5% ABV, 20 IBU
Food Pairings Tacos
Brewery Location West Okoboji Lake, IA
Alcohol content by volume 6.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 20
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2.2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.2

The more you know @   http://westobeer.com/

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Firetucker & C.I.B. – Wildfire Smoked Sour Porter – 3.4 out of 7

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Off-site review with newly ordained ministers.

First off, we don’t like collaboration beers. Why? Well, I haven’t quite worked out my philosophy on this subject yet, but I do believe that in a competitive market, there are winners and losers, and I don’t want to see any organization get taken advantage of, and I also want the same brewing/ spirits organizations (or any organization I suppose) to be able to stand on their own and deliver a sustainable product to their customer base, no matter how niche the market may seem. But, on the other hand, SBM believes in community, E pluribus unum, Gandhi and the American flag. Maybe I’ll get that sorted out for the book, but for now, I’ll get back to the beer.

Wildfire delivers with the sour. From what I gather, CIB Brewery delivered the yeast, which accounts for the sour, so that may very well have been a successful contribution to the end product. And that’s a good thing, because CIB’s website sure doesn’t deliver any contributions (link below). Let me give them a break; CIB is focusing on their core competency. And the rest I will credit to Firetucker, including the ashy malts, absence of wheat detection (moving it away from gratzer, lichtenhainer, or even gose classification), lack of silt (thank you), and the 5.6 darkness factor. Sour and darkness don’t always travel together, but today they get along pretty ok. The SmokeBeerMinistry conversation moved from the yeast to the ash (less desirable) to the sourness overpowering the smoke (faux pas) to the collaboration, and then someone was overheard saying what we were all thinking, “not a very good beer.” Nobody wanted to own that statement thereafter. So there’s the ugly truth, individuals and score keeping laid out the big picture, and we arrived at a point where the whole proved greater than the sum of its parts. We learned this from the 14th Dalai Lama.

Brewer Firetucker Brewery & CIB Brewery
Beer Name Wildfire Smoked Sour Porter
Firetucker’s Description This one is sour up front and a porter in the back! We collaborated with CIB Brewing on a Sour Porter infused with cherry wood smoked grains. We carefully combined our new smoked porter with CIB’s special blend of wild yeast and souring critters. It starts with a Brett tartness on the nose and a medium sour tart taste which then melts into dark malty and smoky porter flavors. A bakers chocolate flavor with roasty bitterness and a bit of cherry smoke lingers on the palate. Beer connoisseurs, this is a limited edition batch, get it while it lasts!
Food Pairings Potlucks
Brewery Location Ankeny, IA
Alcohol content by volume 7.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 35
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5.6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3.75
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.4

For more info about Firetucker and this beer go to:

http://www.firetrucker.com/beers.php/Smoked%20Sour%20Porter

For a partial image of the label go to:

http://cibbrewery.com/our-beers/wildfire-smoked-sour-porter/

Who wears the pants in this collaboration?

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Emelisse – Rauchbier – 4.9 smokestacks

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BTW, I’m still drinkin’. I confessed my sobriety in the last post and plowed right through another review because I love smokebeer AND because my guest bedroom is filling up with rare beers, and I find that a little embarrassing. Gotta drink these down.

Good beer. The first time I found this beer I was out buying a bunch of beer for a party, and then I realized that I didn’t have my wallet, so Nate had to pay, and I never paid him back. I’m watching The Wiz right now… Now I’m watching The Wedding Crashers. Whatchu wanna know about the beer? It’s less malty than the Rauch Geek, a lot less. But there is malt in it. Its got a sweetness to it. Decent low profile smokiness. Subtle Dutch notes of awesomeness. Gateway smokebeer leads non believers into smokeheads. Good beer. Can’t wait for them to make one for the SmokeBeerMinistry. Final score 4.9 smokestacks out of a total possible smokestack rating of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Emelisse Brouwerij
Beer Name Rauchbier
Description found on the internet, (probably from the brewer) The Emelisse Rauchbier is brewed with a unique combination of five different malts,and with a large percentage of smoked malt from Bamburg, Germany. The maltery from which it comes is known around the world for the superior quality of this special malt, which is smoked on damp beechwood.
Food Pairings Dutch Apple Pie, Stroopwafel, Kaas (cheese), Patat (french fries)
Brewery Location Kamperland, Netherlands
Alcohol content by volume 6.5%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 29
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.9

I’m not sure they speak English in Browerji Emelisse:

http://www.emelisse.nl/

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Mikkeller – Rauch Geek – 3 out of 7

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve had a few tonight. One thing about beer reviews is that one’s mood can play into the review. Regardless of my spirits (psychological or ingested), I feel fully prepared to deliver an unbiased review of this beer. Mikkeller Rauch Geek smells like a malty Mikkeller beer concoction. The stout is proud and upfront and all up in my nose. Taste = even maltier than expected. Smoke? Thick malty head fizzled away within a few minutes. I cooked steak on my charcoal grill today; it was good. My neighbor’s car alarm keeps going off, every 20 minutes or so, on for 3 minutes, off for 20. I’m getting sick of this. I don’t like this beer. This beer was at my first ever SmokeBeerMinistry tasting and this is about what I remember. There’s coffee taste in here (indifferent). Almost no smoke (bad). No peat (usually good). And a tiny tiny amount of yeast silt (good). I have more beer. Overall happiness metric = 3 out of 7 (not so good).

Brewer Mikkeller
Beer Name Rauch Geek Breakfast
Brewer’s Description Smoked oatmeal stout brewed with coffee.                                                An oatmeal stout with 25% oat-based ingredients and a nice touch of gourmet coffee and a lot of smoked malts. This beer is a smoked version a Beer Geek Breakfast.
Food Pairings Breakfast
Brewery Location Lervig Aktiebryggeri, Norway
Alcohol content by volume 7.5%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 6
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

Visit more at this troubadour vibe website (much like the style of their production):

http://mikkeller.dk/

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Epic Brewing – Smoked & Oaked Belgian Style Ale – incomplete…

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Looks and tastes like Ft. Collins out of the ashes smoked belgian… a lot like it. Its also similar to Ft. Collins other smokebeer Z Lager in a similar weirdness way. Less smoke in this than the two I just mentioned, however, I’ll dare to say that this is the better beer. All smokepower factors clock in between 2 and 3 except for the overall happiness metric which should creep up a bit higher, although we’ll hafta wait for the calculations to come through to know for sure (come back soon to see the full review). Its great that smokepower has found its way all over the beer spectrum, but rather than differentiate your product by pulling some random brew out of your hat (say belgian) and then wave the smoke wand over it and voila, the master brewer is a genius and Epic has garaunteed SBM will try their beer once, but why not make something we’d like to try twice. Overall happiness has to land solidly above 5 to get some repeat business from our group. This one misses the mark. You’ll find taste sweetness convince you its okay, barley flavors remind you of barley wines, 9.6% alcohol reward you for loving beer, and a hint of smokiness push you away from this beer and towards a smokebeer made by someone who wants to do one thing well. Overall happiness …

For more info, have a look at:

http://www.epicbrewing.com/the-beers/exponential-series/item/623-smoked-and-oaked

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Stillwater Artisanal – Readymade: Vacuum – 3 out of 7 smokestacks

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At first take, this beer is malty. It poured nice, smelled nice (and malty), had a nice tan head fizzle fairly quickly. Then, after a couple of sips, bitterness cropped up and it never went away. All I could think about was the overwhelming bitterness of this beer. All I wanted was a rich smoky beer. This isn’t it. I couldn’t come up with any other words to describe this beer after I got bit by the bitter bug. Stillwater makes good beers, but this isn’t the one for me or the ministry. This beer fails to stack up. Overall happiness = 3 smokestacks out of 7 total smokestacks of happiness.

Brewer Stillwater Artisanal
Beer Name Readymade: Vacuum (Smoked India Black Ale)
Brewer’s Description What is with the paradoxical term ‘Black IPA’ anyway? Whatever it is, we do love black beers.. also smoked beers, and of course everyone loves hops these daze.. A complex blend various smoked, caramel and subdued roasted malts lay the base for a combination of piney, dank and (dark) fruity hops.. While there is a lot to contemplate with this beast, just be sure to enjoy it without getting too sucked into its enigmatic composition.
Food Pairings Prime Rib
Brewery Location Baltimore, Maryland
Alcohol content by volume 8.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) like 100
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

For those who would like to offer Stillwater advice on their website please visit:

http://www.stillwater-artisanal.com/index.html

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Triptych – Smoke Me Out – 3.5 out of 7 (do-over review)

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I had to move to the garage for this one, so you may notice the unfamiliar hoodoo alter.

This review is a do-over for Triptych Brewing of Savoy, Illinois. SBM offers do-overs for everyone. This do-over started with a personal visit to the brewery where I had one Smoke Me Out at the bar and it was good, like 4.5 good (out of 7), which isn’t great, but it’s an improvement over their first attempt, so I took a crowler home to give the re-review 32 ounces of me time. A few days later I got this out of the fridge and after cracking it open, the second question I asked myself was “Where’d the smoke go?” The first question was “Where the hell’d all this foam come from?” This thing foamed up so bad Kid’N’Play woulda been jealous (yes, the flat top’s name was Kid’N’Play, and there were also two back-up dancer guys that hopped around a bunch.)  I taste a rich maltyness, notes of muddled peat, zero of the cherished Bamberg smoked malts. My old concern for Triptych was their ability to maintain consistency in their product, but with this review fast approaching the 3.0 point mark, I may have to acknowledge some consistency in their marginal quality product (yes, that “like 4.5 good” comment from above started to fade away fast like the smokepower in this beer during this review). And, as I review my hand written notes from this, it appears that my alter ego The Witchdoctor may have arrived and jotted down some deeply contemplative scribblings… “if a squirrel can take care of itself over winter, so can Triptych,” and “Sulphur mines,” which are included here for your own interpretation. Best of luck Triptych, overall happiness smokestacks up to a 3.5 out of 7.

Brewer Triptych Brewing (do-over review)
Beer Name Smoke Me Out
Brewer’s Description The first porter brewed at Triptych happens to be a Smoked Porter. Along with a traditionally inspired grain bill utilizing a blend of roasted malts, we used a significant proportion of smoked malt from Germany. The result is a dark, complex ale overflowing with notes of toast, roast, dark fruit and (of course!) smoke.
Food Pairings Go ahead and order the special
Brewery Location Savoy, IL
Alcohol content by volume 6.1%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 23
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1.5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3.5

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Learn more at http://triptychbrewing.com/

DrinkSmoke

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Samuel Adams – Smokehouse Rauchbier (Longshot Series) – 4.5 out of 7

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Who is this pretty boy on the label? His name is Samuel Adams Longshot, and he is the one responsible for the idea of a contest where people send in their homemade beer in search of something Boston Beer Company can sell, at least that’s what I gathered from the label. Samuel Longshot produced a very good beer… but not a very good smokebeer. The last beer SBM reviewed went much the same way, where it seemed the brewer went out of their way to use high quality (and expensive) ingredients, and then held back those ingredients from doing what they were designed to do. I presume the marketing team had a say in the matter, along with the warehouse, and I understand, a company can’t keep the show going if they can’t move the product. Sip after sip (and a few chugs) and I swear this is getting smokier and smokier. But it never reached out of the glass and punched me in the nose. It tastes like Bamberg Beechwood smoked malts were used. It tastes like a good beer. It’s a good sipping beer, but not much of a savoring beer. I still just may buy a sixer of this when I get a chance. Overall Happiness Factor – 4.5 out of 7.

Brewer Samuel Adams  (The Boston Beer Company)
Beer Name Smokehouse Rauchbier
Brewer’s Description This deep copper colored Rauchbier has all of the flavors you would expect in this traditional style: smoky, slightly savory with a malty sweetness and roastiness. The smoky flavors are balanced by a light toffee malt character and slight citrus from the hops. The brew finishes with a lingering smokiness, sweetness and subtle hop character.
Food Pairings Something off the grill
Brewery Location Boston, MA
Alcohol content by volume 5.0%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N 2.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks N
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

For more info on the contest (and perhaps a little inspiration), visit:

https://www.samueladams.com/longshot

DrinkSmoke

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Brau Brothers Brewing – Bancreagie Peated Scotch Ale – 2 out of 7 smokestacks of happiness

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Great beer, but not smoked. This beer looks, smells, and tastes like really good beer (and it is), but the “Peat And Cherry Wood Smoked Malt Blend” (I have no idea why Brau Brothers decided to capitalize every word) offer zero smokepower… Actually they offer 0.5 smokestacks of smokepower, but you get my point. Halfway through this beer and I got bit by the bitter bug. I decided there was something bitter in the taste and then I couldn’t shake the thought outta my mind. Whatever physical or metaphysical anomaly is baffling me, readers please note, the bitterness is faint, and may only slightly detract from your drinking experience. Brau Brothers should balance that bitterness out with a buncha smoke. Overall happiness – 2 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Brau Brothers Brewing Company
Beer Name Bancreagie Peated Scotch Ale
Brewer’s Description Bancreagie (Bon-cray-gee) means “Valley of the White Rock,” an homage to the granite aquifer sitting under the brewery. An American interpretation of a Scotch ale, we use Golden Promise, caramel malts, and roasted barley to form the backbone of this beer, while two different kinds of smoked malt add a unique earthy and bacon-y quality. This beer demands some fine barbecue, and so do we. Bring some over.
Food Pairings Fine barbecue
Brewery Location Marshall Minnesota
Alcohol content by volume 7.6%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N 0.5
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks N
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 2

Learn more at: http://braubeer.com/bancreagie/

DrinkSmoke

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Fort Collins Brewery – Z Smoked Amber Lager – 3 out of 7 smokestacks of happiness

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Fort Collins brings all kinds of great beer to the table. Not only do they have a robust selection of different kinds of beer, they also have a healthy library of distinctly unique smokebeers (their Out of the Ashes series was particularly notable). Z smoked amber lager is not one of the good ones. I am grateful for FCB’s efforts in my field, but it is safe to say that I don’t like this smokebeer. Z is a little sweet, little sour, little bitter, little smokey, and a little bit weird. I don’t have much else to say about it. Final score, a generous 3 out of 7 smokestacks of happiness.

Brewer Fort Collins Brewery
Beer Name Z Smoked Amber Lager
Brewer’s Description Rauchbier dates back to the 1500s in Bamberg Germany when malt was often dried over the flames of a beechwood fire. The lingering smoke flavors & slight caramel undertones make this smoked amber lager an unexpected culinary delight.
Food Pairings Meat
Brewery Location Fort Collins, Colorado
Alcohol content by volume 5.4%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3.5
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 3

Although it looks like FCB has removed all memories of Z lager, feel free to learn more at:

http://fortcollinsbrewery.com/

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Mikkeller – Rauchpils – 4.1 smokestacks of happiness

imageThis is a well made beer as we have come to expect from this team. Everything they do is for sophisticates like us and Rauchpils is in line with that. Rauchpils is skunky. A nice foamy  white fluffy head emits curious aromas and smoke is one of the main components. Mikkeller doesn’t play coy and their efforts are noticed in this interesting combination of the yin and the yang. Pilsners can often present a lighter and less distinct taste; Miller Light claims to be ‘A True Pilsner’ and thankfully, this isn’t one of those kinds of pilsners. This is a robust, skunky, smoky, flavorfull, and interesting beer. An unusual Overall Happiness factor of 4.1 smokestacks.

Brewer Mikkeller
Beer Name Rauchpils
Brewer’s Description Mikkeller, a Copenhagen, Denmark headquartered company brewed this Czech style pilsner (disputed statement) at De Proef Brouwerij in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium. Brewer description may have been lost in the shuffle.
Food Pairings anything
Brewery Location Lochristi-Hijtfte, Belgium
Alcohol content by volume 4.6%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 2
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) a skunky 2
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 2
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.1

Check them out at:

http://mikkeller.dk/brewery/

Drinksmoke

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Brenner Brewing Co. – Bacon Bomb Rauchbier – 6 out of 7 smokestacks of happiness

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Readers know we joke about sausage flavor seeping into smokebeers, but for whatever reason, the word “bacon” merely being substituted for sausage conjures up a far less appetizing expectation for the taste of this beer. Brenner Brewing Co. is making the exact same connection that SBM does, and obviously riding on the completely cliched popularity of bacon currently, drew me to the point of skeptical hesitation upon conducting this review. Maybe I’m being hypocritical, but aren’t we all tired of these mindless ninny’s gushing over bacon already? Nonetheless, this is a great beer. I was able to overcome preconceived notions and see this beer for what it truly is. This is a thin, thirst quenching beer encouraging me to pound 4 or 5 of these while doing projects in my garage or out in the yard. This beer will suds up a bit, although it only lasts a few seconds (no big deal there). And, this beer has no silt in the bottom (a big plus there for those turnt up to 12 o’clock swigs). Also, methinks there’s a hint of spiciness on the back of my throat with this one. Any smokebeer that scores 6 and up is top notch, and this scores an Overall Happiness score of 6 solid smokestacks all day long.

Brewer Brenner Brewing Co.
Beer Name Bacon Bomb Rauchbier
Brewer’s Description A blend of German beechwood and Wisconsin cherrywood smoked malts. Noble German hops, chocolate wheat, and fresh black pepper add a subtle bite. The yeast strain keeps the body light to balance the huge flavors and nose, making it perfect for pairing with Burgers, BBQ, or as a Bloody Mary chaser.
Food Pairings Burgers, BBQ, more alcohol
Brewer Location Milwaukee, WI
Alcohol content by volume 5.3%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 23
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 5.8
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 6
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 6

Here’s another pic of the back/side of the bottle, which is the only place the name can be found.

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Here’s a link to their barely functioning website… let’s hope they get that sorted out.

http://brennerbrewing.com/index.shtml

drinksmoke

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Stillwater Artisanal – Surround – Oak Smoked Imperial Wheat Stout – 5 out of 7 smokestacks

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This beer is for the grown folks. The word wheat might throw you off a bit because this is not a beer that wheat lovers are looking for. I’d like to give Surround to an unsuspecting wheatie and see their reaction, although I’m sure the color alone will tip them off. It’s as dark as they come with my phone light barely penetrating the beer any measurable amount beyond a couple of millimeters. This beer is malty, stouty, syrupy, rich, and a little bit chocolaty, (and not so wheaty). So many big flavors in there I could go on for at least a whole-nuther paragraph. This taste can be summed up by saying, “Oak smoked imperial wheat stout,” and by Jove its printed right there on the side of the bottle. No real surprises here. Honest beer for the connoisseur. Final overall happiness metric = 5 out of 7 smokestacks.

Brewer Stillwater Artisanal
Beer Name Surround (Oak smoked imperial wheat stout)
Brewer’s Description Like a sound system that fills the room with audibles swarming in every direction. This massive stout overtakes your senses with aromas and flavor of dark chocolate, caramel, roast, smoke, earth, and wood. It’s heavy I know, but you have to drop that bass every once in a while if you really wanna get down.
Food Pairings Prime Rib
Brewer Location Baltimore, Maryland
Alcohol content by volume 10.0%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 7
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 4
Beer thickness 1-7 (water – motor oil) 7
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 5

For some clarity on the backstory of the label, see this link below.

http://www.stillwater-artisanal.com/surround.html

For clarity on why anyone cares about the story behind the label… idunno

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Invercargill Brewery – Smokin’ Bishop – 4.5 out of 7

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Smokin’ Bishop pours a nice color with a touch of campfire and maybe even a little peat smoke wafting out a bit. The taste comes with a nice sweetness to it, a little bitterness, a smidgen malty, a tad ashy, and a dash boozy. All this adds up to a well balanced beer. A beer that looks better than it smells, and smells better than it tastes. Invercargill encourages pairing with smoked sausages as well as aging in your cellar for a bit, which The Ministry might just try, hopefully leading to a more robust taste and higher score a year or so down the road. This isn’t a total loss, and it’s obviously not a total win. There is one flavor in this beer, mind you, that does not fit. There are 5 or 6 distinct flavors in there and one of them remains elusive. I can’t quite put my palate on it. It’s right at the tip of my tongue… and for that, Overall Happiness comes in at 4.5 out of 7 smokestacks.

Beer Name Smokin’ Bishop                     Manuka Smoked Bock
Brewer’s Description Smokin’ Bishop is a German style bock beer using our own Manuka smoked malt to give a distinctive smoke character that’s balanced out with the richness of the bock using our own yeast. Served with Smoky Sausages the smoke disappears into a funky fruity bock. Because we smoke our own malt and can’t resist trying different wood combinations – each vintage is distinct. This cellars beautifully, so we encourage fans to buy one for now and one for later … and maybe even another for later again …  to create your own vertical tasting.
Food Pairings Smoky Sausages
Brewer Location Invercargill, New Zealand
Alcohol content by volume 7.0%
IBU (International Bitterness Units) 21
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 3.5
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 3
Sausage detection? Y or N N
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 3
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 4.5

For more info please visit:

http://invercargillbrewery.co.nz/seasonally/smokin-bishop/

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Aecht Schlenkerla – Fastenbier – 7 out of 7

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Schlenkerla can do no wrong in His eyes. This beer is what happens when you open the doors of your holy sanctuary to the nectar of the gods. It cannot be understated that SmokeBeerMinistry walks in stride with this marriage, en route to beatification.

Fastenbier (aka Lentbeer) is based in the tradition of being served between Ash Wednesday and Easter when many Christians observe 40 days of fasting. It is written “liquida non frangunt ieiunium” (liquids do not break the fast). For everyone who likes smokebeers, Schlenkerla has one for you, and Fastenbier must have been brewed especially for the ministry officials in SmokeBeerMinistry. This is another great smokebeer with a touch of bitterness on the back end. Ignite the thurible and allow the aspergillum to rain holiness upon you. Enjoy.

Brewer Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Beer Name Fastenbier
Brewer’s Description The Original Schlenkerla Lentbeer is an unfiltered smokebeer, brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. Bottom-fermenting yeast gives the reddish brown lentbeer a natural cloudiness. Its smokey aroma is already noticeable in the smell, combined with a fine hoppy note. In the drink the fullbodied, highly drinkable lentbeer shows its strong malty flavour, rounded up with the smokey taste and a light bitterness. Due to the nourishing yeast, the Original Schlenkerla Lentbeer has the “Brotzeit already included” (German word for afternoon snack).
Food Pairings are sacrilegious
Brewer Location Bamberg, Germany
Alcohol content by volume 5.5%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 4
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 7
Sausage detection? Y or N Y
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 5
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 7*

For the historical background of Fastenbier and Christianity, please visit:

http://www.schlenkerla.de/rauchbier/sorten/fastenbiere.html

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FATE – Gratzer Ale – 2 out of 7

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Not much to report about on this one (unless you want to hear about vanity in Boulder, CO brew pubs… It was like a fashion magazine in there). This beer was light on every front. Without a touch of smoke, there’s not much sense in calling it a gratzer. The sour is there, giving this beer something to set it apart from hoards of flavorless, non offensive beers out there today. It’s easy to make a beer that the uninitiated will like, just keep it bland and devoid of anything that someone might raise an eyebrow at and you will avoid ruffling any feathers. This beer goes one step above that by calling it a gratzer (which is not recognized by the masses) and by putting a few sour notes in the formula (alerting rubes that this beer is different from C00rs Light), both may incite fear in these unsophisticated pallets. For that effort FATE’s Gratzer Ale earns a total of 2 points. Sorry FATE, get bold.

Brewer Fate Brewing Company
Beer Name Gratzer Ale
Brewer’s Description Fate has nothing to say about this beer.
Food Pairings Decent menu @ Fate, choose whatever you like
Brewer Location Boulder, CO
Alcohol content by volume 3.0%
Beer opacity rate 1 – 7 (light – dark) 1
Smell smoke? 1 – 7 (No – George Burns) 1
Sausage detection? Y or N No
Smokepower taste: 1 – 7 Smokestacks 1
Overall Happiness: 1 – 7 (sad – happy) 2

Feel free to learn more at:

http://fatebrewingcompany.com/menus/fate-beer/

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