For my ninth Top 10 list I’m behind again — story of life the last few weeks. On Tuesday, I finished up the last of four articles that were due at various times over the past week. Lew Bryson just announced his topic for next month’s Session, which is Smoked beers, so I thought that would be a worthy topic for this week’s list, to get ready for choosing a smoked beer. So although it’s more like Top Ten Thursday this week, here’s List #9:
Top 10 Favorite Smoked Beers
|Stone Smoked Porter
|SandLot Second Hand Smoke
|Sly Fox Rauch Bier
|Smoke From Rogue.
|New Glarus Unplugged Smoke on the Porter Is there anything Dan Carey can’t make incredibly well?
|Adelscott From the French brewery, Brasserie Fischer.
|Alaskan Smoked Porter This is arguably the best American example of a smoked beer, and its especially good after a couple of years aging. I once did a vertical tasting of five years worth of smoked beers, the oldest of which stretching back ten years. The decade-old one had turned, but the beers that were five or six years and younger all stood up quite well and added different characteristics and complexity as they grew older.
|Spezial Rauchbier Less well-known than Schlenkerla, but about as tasty, is Spezial, which operates a brewpub just a short walk from it. In fact, it’s across the street from yet another fine brewpub in Bamberg, Fassla, though they don’t make a rauchbier. Shelton Brothers does import their most popular rauchbier, but you really should make the trip to Bamberg.
|Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen This is the rauchbier that everybody knows, and with just cause. It is a delicious beer, especially on draft, and has set the standard by which all other smoked beers are judged.
|Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock The Urbock is only available from October to December (or until it runs out). It has richer malt flavors than the year-round Marzen, and pairs incredibly well with heavy meat dishes served in an onion the side of your head (which is what I had at the Schlenkerla tavern last fall.) I’ve never had it in the bottle, but on draft it’s divine.
Almost making the cut, and also quite tasty in my memory were Blind Tiger’s Smokey the Beer (and a great name to boot), Surly Smoke, and Tastes Like Burning (Ralph Wiggums Revenge) from Ithaca Brewing. And a couple more I’ve heard good things about but haven’t yet had an opportunity to try include East End’s Smokestack Heritage Porter, Harpoon’s Rauchfetzen, Smoke On The Water from Oskar Blues, ED (a.k.a. Imperial SmokED Brown Goose) and Second Hand Smoked, both from Goose Island Brewing.
Obviously, if your favorite isn’t on this list, it may simply be because I haven’t tried every smoked beer out there. Some, of course, are draft only or, if bottled, are only available in their local market, or at least not in mine. But let’s here about your favorite smoked beers, too. Join us next month for the Session, hosted next month by Lew Bryson, where we’ll be tasting smoked beers.
Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.