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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Session #26: Smoke Ring

I always liked the round-ups on The Session, and now I get to do my own. Next month's Session is on beer cocktails, and will be hosted on May Day by Joe & Jasmine @ Beer At Joe's.

I was very pleased that a fair number of people either tried a smoked beer for the first time or enjoyed one for the first time -- one of the things I was hoping for when I suggested this topic -- so I'm going to list them first. And yeah...a lot of us wound up with Schlenkerla; hell, so did I!

Hey, Not Bad!
Dean at Eat, Drink, Run, Live hadn't even heard of the stuff before: "RAUCHBIER? What the fuck is that?" But he got his Schlenkerla -- uh-huh -- and he liked it.

Al at Hop Talk admitted smoked beer wasn't his favorite, but found one that wasn't bad: Weyerbacher Fireside. And Ron, the other Hop Talker, doesn't like porter or smoked beer, but liked Stone Smoked Porter. Good day, guys!

Put Nemsis in the "Convinced" category; the first rauchbier was so good, a second one had to follow. That's success!

Edmond at MMMM...Beer isn't quite in the smoked beer virgins category: he'd finally found one he liked, and decided to get a full bottle for The Session.

Not everyone liked it...they never do, that's okay. It's rauchbier, right?

Not So Much...
Beer Sagas' experience was just not so great; well, that happens. He decided to file it as a learning experience, though!

The Reluctant Scooper isn't convinced, even though he gives convincing you otherwise a game try.

Matt C. liked his Alaskan Smoked Porter, but doesn't get the whole idea of smoked beers...and doesn't like most of them (that's right; at A World of Brews you get two posts for The Session!).

But most of you? You love this stuff.

Bring It On!
Andrew Cooper, The Beer Adventurer, got me drooling with his food-pairing enthusiasm.

Rob Cannon jumps on the new Smoked Bock at Goose Island Clybourn and finds it wonderful with the pulled pork sandwich (I'd expect nothing less from a blog called Sophisticated Brews and Sustenance in the Windy City).

Mario at Brewed For Thought was ready, willing, and able, and got lucky with a cask of Sierra Nevada Imperial Smoked Porter (got some of that myself in Chicago on Tuesday; damned nice!).

John Duffy at The Beer Nut loves smoked beer, but found Mikkellr's Barrel Aged Smoke A Ciggy to be over the top, and was going home to soothe his palate with a Schlenkerla.

Except for mistaking Hamburg for Bamberg (sounds a lot alike!), Ted's got a real nice entry on his Barley Vine blog, although he'd rather have a Schlenkerla than the Stone Smoked Porter he got.

Steve Herberger started a smoky thread at RealBeer, and it may just go on and on...

Velky Al meant well, and was ready for smokin', but he Fuggled up and left his post at home...where he has no Internet. Luckily, he had pictures and memories.

Ray Daniels blogs behind a wall -- don't ask -- so you can read his account of an experimental smoked bock here.

My man The American Don did a post on his Beer Brotha blog back in November all about smoked beer and smoke-filled rooms, and decided it was too good to waste.

Barry Masterson -- Adeptus at The Bitten Bullet -- loves the stuff, but found introducing it to friends was not such an easy proposition.

Stephen Beaumont at World of Beer recalled a shared smoky experience we had in Germany a few years back that involved a smoky beer that had no smoked malt; a real beauty, and the beer I'd have done for The Session if only I could have found one. Prost, baby!

Brian Yaeger at Red, White, and Brew dove in headfirst with four smoked beers: Einenbahn Defumada, Alaskan Smoked Porter, Stone Smoked Porter, and Schlenkerla Urbock. And then his buddy Chris homebrewed a smoked beer as well.

Mark Andersen (In Search of Beer Paradise) is a seasoned smoked beer veteran, and has some great pix of Bamberg to boot.

Paul found some cool wordplay (what would you expect from a guy who calls his blog A Flowery Song?) and some second-hand smoke in his entry.

The entry at Hump's Brewing is about Joshua Humphrie's comparison of Weyerbacher Fireside and his own Maple Smoked Stout.

Jon (The Brew Site) chose a classic beer -- Alaskan Smoked Porter -- and a classic format: the structured tasting note.

Jimmy comes up with some interesting ideas at HopWild for adding smoke to beers -- not saying they're good ideas! -- and drinks two smokers: Stone Smoked Porter and Schlenkerla Weizen ("I like it - but it just seems wrong.").

Tom Cizauskas not only drank some Schlenkerla Fastenbier -- the lucky dog -- but he posted photographic evidence on Yours For Good Fermentables that he had it on Friday.

Our man at A Good Beer Blog, Alan Macleod, didn't just have a Spezial, he had ribs soaked in barrel-aged beer for double woody goodness.

Tim joined us for the first time, and -- understandably -- got confused a little by a post called The Session on my blog: his thinkingbrew post is about a session-strength rauchbier. Extra credit, Tim!

And Some Are Different...
Mark Dredge did a nice Bert & Ernie story you'll never see on Sesame Street, pointing up how smoke beers are simply a love-hate proposition. No arguments here.

Peter wrote a very complete entry at BetterBeerBlog, adding in his thoughts, an explanation of smoked beer, tasting notes on the Sierra Nevada Smoked Imperial Porter he had, and notes on the bar where he got it. (What, nothing on the traffic?)

The folks at Beer-O-Vision tasted Stone and Schlenkerla on-camera: have a look.

And finally, the brother-from-a-different-mother who talked me into this, Jay Brooks, takes the wheel of his Brookston Beer Bulletin and drives us on an exploration of whether smoked beers are legitimately more about place of origin and consumption than most other beers. For me? I'd say long as the 'place of consumption' me.

Thanks, everyone. It was a hoot, and I'm glad you all played along.


Mario (Brewed for Thought) said...

Lew, loved reading through your recap and submission for the Session.

Jay has left me hanging on the one true question for the ages though, what's the best Cheeseteak in Philly, and how do you order it?


I was missed in the roundup so here is my post if any one is interest. I am in the "not so much group"

My Post

Matt C.

Lew Bryson said...

Sorry about that, Matt! I'll get you in there.

Tongo Rad said...

The Weyerbacher Fireside is seriously good and addictive- you can't drink just one in a sitting! There is a nice hoppiness there that I'm surprised works as well as it does. I'm going to be sad when it's all gone.

The Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier is another fave, though I haven't seen any in quite a while. I've been thinking about just ordering up a case or two, maybe I can get a steady supply that way. I know it wouldn't last too long around here.

It was pretty cool reading through the recap, a lot of the beers I expected to see got commented upon. I am always jealous of those that can get the Alaskan Smoked Porter with ease. Maybe I'll drown my sorrows in a Fireside :)

Brian Yaeger said...

NOW I find out that Ray Daniels and Geoff Larson wrote a whole tome about smokers? For a style that seems to have a limited audience, not sure how big the readership is for this, but it looks Great.

In my ideal world, I can afford ($ and space) every beer book, including Tom Robbins's new one.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

In response, I offer: