Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Smoky Wheat

My, my. I forgot how funky smoke beers are. In Boston, at the all-important Kappy's liquors next to the hotel, I found Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. I've got the classic Marzen in the basement, but I'm currently drinking the Weizen. I was honestly expecting a kind of delicate, just slightly smoky beer. The Daniels/Larson smoke beer book makes it sound like the weizens generally just get a touch of smoke. This is really smoky though. And I like it.

As I was pouring it, I just sort of smiled when the smell hit me, reassured that maybe the smoke beer in my basement is just fine. It smelled so bad for a while, and still smells a little funky, but smoke beers really just do, you know? The nose on this is big, exceptionally smoky, and rich. And unlike your standard light wheat beer, this has a nice little belt of malt in the palate too--it's relatively dark, by the way. Sort of a Rauchdunkelweizen, if you will.

Encouraged about my rauchbier, I wine-thiefed a sample out of the basement. When I bought the Schlenkerla's I thought it'd be a great opportunity to a) test mine and make sure it wasn't too gnarly to bottle and b) compare mine when it's mature. I'll save the Marzen for the latter purpose I think. So, the really odd thing is that despite my beer's mispent youth, it's pretty well behaved now. I mean the aromatics will naturally pick up with carbonation, but I think it's pretty tame.

Pause to reflect on my sample: Lovely, crystal clear, russet-amber. Delicate smokiness--very slight perceptible hop. Ultra smooth, delicate, nutty, caramelly malt on the palate, with a little smokiness kicking in in the bitter-nutty finish. Wow. It's hard to believe this won't be pretty good when primed and lagered for a month. I have very high hopes. I don't understand how it got so mild-mannered. Next time, 100% percent Weyermann smoked malt. Boy, the palate on this is great though. Just goes to show what stupidity and decoction can conspire to produce.

Anyway, back to the Schlenkerla. Key point: This is damned good stuff and is smoky as all hell. I'd like to say I can find something else in it: typical wheat beer esters, nutty maltiness, Tettnang hops, something. But I can't. That was a beer worth trying.


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