When Michigan (finally) instituted its indoor smoking ban, Ashley’s–a consistently smoky bar–had a smoked beer festival. I hadn’t really had many smoked beer before then, but on that day I tried the 440 Pepper Smoker from Original Gravity, and I was hooked. Smoke beers are definitely a weird creation. Malt that has been smoked over hardwood picks up a savory, almost meat-like flavor along with the predictable smokiness.
I can see them not necessarily being for everyone. They could trend too far from what beer should taste like, but personally, I like seeing people push the boundaries of beer and coming up with different and interesting flavors. Also, I drank one of these beers along with a Diavolo sandwich from L’Appetito. The mix of the smoked, cured meats, spicy mustard and smokey beer was absolutely amazing.
Appearance: Dark brown with hints of copper shining through when held up to the light. It poured with a creamy, 2 finger thick tan head that dissipated somewhat quickly and without much lacing.
Aroma: Savory, woody and smoky. It’s like a campfire in a good, aromatic way. I’ve had beers that have crossed the line into cigarette butt, but this stays well away from that.
Taste: The taste comes in a few waves. It begins with a nice, acrid smokiness, which is quickly followed with roasted, malty sweetness. The aftertaste is a lingering, but not unpleasant acridity.
Mouthfeel: This beer has a medium carbonation. I think it could be just a bit a lower, actually. That might help it feel a bit richer. As it is, it’s a bit too thin.
Overall: I don’t know why, but I had been craving a smoked beer. This hits all the spots. I don’t regret picking up a six-pack.