Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen - 5.1% ABV
Schlenkerla (Bamberg, Germany)
This beer was initially sitting in my fridge, awaiting some cooler weather. But here we are, Oct. 2, with temperatures still in the high 90s. Since it's officially October, and Oktoberfest has been underway for a few weeks, I figured I would grace the blog with its first märzen.
My friend Bobby passed this along just before my podcast co-host Alyx moved to Montana, with the intent that it would be featured on the podcast. However, we weren't quite able to squeeze it any. But anyway, if Bobby reads this, thanks for passing along this unique beer!
The beer pours a nice brown, and when the light shines through, it opens up into an amber color. I'd normally expect a märzen to be more amber, but I believe the darker color comes as a result of the smoking process the malt goes through. (The malt is smoked over a beechwood fire, mixed with some hops and then the beer is matured in cellars, to put it simply.)
As soon as you bring this beer to your lips, you're hit with the smokey aroma. It feels like you're standing right by a smoker in the backyard, and even when you open your mouth, it's like you're inhaling actual smoke. I expected the idea of a smoked beer to feel wintery or more fitting for cool weather, but it's actually pretty fitting for our still summery weather in early fall. The only downside to the smoked flavor is that it envelops and almost erases the caramel notes you can get from the malts used in a märzen.
The beer carries the smoke flavor as well, sticking in your mouth after the beer is gone. By the time I finished this pint, my mouth was overwhelmed with the flavor. However, the smoke doesn't make the beer too heavy like you might think (or maybe that's just me? I tend to think of smokey beers and heavy stouts as being in the same camp). Even with the smoke, the mouthfeel is light, and it somehow remains easy drinking for most of the beer. Those last few sips, as the smoke overwhelms your mouth, it does get kind of difficult.
That being said, I could see this pairing extremely well with some barbeque, or even a fresh summer salad. I'm also curious to see how this beer would work in a stew - might it bring in some of that smokey flavor? It might be worth giving a try.
I'd say this Smokebeer is pleasant, but moreso, it's simply intriguing. I've never had something else like it, and it's a unique flavor that I would want to share with others. In fact, I'd recommend if you want to drink it, you share it with others rather than down a whole pint. I'll definitely buy this beer again, and while it's not a "drink multiple beers in a night" kind of beer, I think you can have a ton of fun pairing this beer with different meals.
I'm keeping the rating moderate since I wouldn't buy this or drink this all the time, but I definitely think it's worth a try for anyone who is curious. Plus, it's certainly unique.
Overall rating: 3.2/5