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CBN Smoked-Flavored Beers Blind Tasting

CBN Blind Tasting Panel
• Jay R. Brooks, Tasting Panel Director, CBN
• Bob Coleman, reporter, CBN
• Tom Dalldorf, editor/publisher, CBN
• Paul Marshall, BJCP beer judge
• Pete Slosberg, author, founder of Pete’s Wicked Ales
• Special thanks to Mike Long, BTP Tasting coordinator/head steward

Smoke-flavored beers are beers of any style that have smoke flavoring added through some method in the brewing process, usually by smoking the malt to be used in making the beer. Different woods used to smoke the malt impart very different characteristics to the final product. There are essentially two types of smoked beers: classic rauchbiers (aka Bamberg-style rauchbiers) and other smoked beers, the latter being simply any smoke-flavored beer that is not the first style.

The classic rauchbier is a lager — often a märzen — that has, of course, smoked character, which can range from just perceptible to unmistakable with low hop presence. Malt, hops and the smoked flavor should balance one another, and esters or diacetyl should not be noticeable. Smoked beers are generally the right choice in a small number of very specific circumstances, such as an alderwood-smoked beer with smoked salmon, or hickory wood with pork and other barbecued meats. These beers also pair well with a fine cigar. All samples were tasted blind and are listed in alphabetical order by score.

Alaskan Smoked Porter
Alaskan Brewing Co., Alaska

Rich, smoky aromas, black color and a thick, tan head. Very rich, creamy smoked flavors and a terrific lingering finish. This is how smoked beers should be made. Arguably the example of a non-Bamberg-style smoked beer.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier – Urbock
Brauerei Heller-Trum, Germany

Light smoke nose, dark brown color and a thick, tan head. Creamy, light smoked flavor with rich malt and a taste of exotica.

Stone Smoked Porter
Stone Brewing Co., California

Lightly smoky nose with sweet malty aromas. Black color. Creamy, rich malt flavors and soft, delicate smoked character with a long, lingering finish.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier — Märzen
Brauerei Heller-Trum, Germany

Strong smoky nose reminiscent of ham and green pea soup and bacon. Dark brown color with a light tan head. Creamy, light smoked malt flavor and a clean finish.


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