Sunday, 25 March 2012

Beer Reviews: Dark Star - Golden Gate 4.5%
              & Brouwerij Emelisse - Rauchbier 7%

I was pleased to see another Dark Star beer on the bar when I visited Tap East a few weeks ago. I'm a big Dark Star fan, their Green Hopped IPA was probably my favourite beer of last year, so I'm always keen to try one that I haven't had before. Advertised as an Aromatic Autumnal Ale and brewed with North American west coast hop varieties, only less of them, it pours a dark golden colour with minimal white head and has a tasty malty caramel apple aroma. An initial bitter crabapple taste becomes a smooth rich-tea biscuit maltiness, leaving a pleasant malty caramel hoppiness in the finish. An interesting and unexpected beer to find in March when the nights are drawing out but it's well placed and welcome on these cooler evenings.

My beer tonight is a smokey one. Here's the problem I have with smoked beer, in previous experience it tastes like smoked cheese. Now don't get me wrong, I love smoked cheese but I don't actually want to drink it. Many years ago I had a bottle of Schlenkerla Rauchbier in a cobbled together 'beer styles of the world' case. Initially I loved the smokey cheesy-meaty flavour, and then I realised that I had only drunk about a tenth of the glass. I think I tolerated about half of it before I admitted defeat. That was 16 years ago. It was therefore with more than a little trepidation that I poured out the chestnut brown beer with it's foamy, light golden brown head. The colour caught me by surprise as I was expecting something much darker and the smokey smell was much tastier too, it actually made me salivate. It is of smoked meat with definite cracked black pepper aroma, very close to pepperoni or salami but a little sweeter. I hesitated, then went for a big gulp. Sweet smokey malty applewood and the oily juice that forms on the top of pepperoni sitting atop of a pizza straight from the oven, with a tiny chocolate fruitiness, were the flavours that hit me. Astonishing. Much sweeter and delicious than my smoked beer memory served me. A light bonfire-smokey aftertaste had a roasty nutty creaminess to it.
Brewed with an unique combination of five different malts, and with a large percentage of smoked malt from Bamberg, so the brewery blurb says, this Dutch smoked beer from Kamperland (apparently a town in Zeeland and not a Motorhome Themepark), has totally made me revise my opinion. It was suggested to me by a very helpful lady with bright orange hair when I was at Utobeer in Borough Market a little while ago. 'At the very least' she said 'if you don't like it, it's in a smaller bottle than the Schlenkerla, so there's less to drink'. I couldn't argue with logic like that, and I'm very glad that I didn't.


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