I had a busy Friday. It was international, multi-media, for a great cause and included about six hours of driving. So, at the end of a drive that bought about 36 US craft beer in the house, I really didn't want a smoked beer - or at least not the smoked beer that I had set aside. I did have Ithaca Gorges Porter, a lovely lightly smoked brew included in the winter variety pack, but that is not really a smokin' smoked brew. I also have an Alaska Smoked Porter but I am holding that in reserve and wanted some lighter ales after the drive.
But today, after a well earned nap, I had four sides of ribs in the oven that had soaked overnight in the Oaked Nut Brown Ale that Lew noted as perhaps the brewery's problem child. Thankfully the questions in the glass are resolved by the pan filled with the brew, green onions and pork ribs. Now that the porcine flesh has been consumed, nothing speaks to me more than Spezial Rauchbier, which Lew, our host for this edition of the Session, also reviewed. I do not have the smoked salmon of my Nova Scotian homeland but give big props for the dreaming of that pairing by Lew. Smoked beers go very well with fatty cold ocean fish like salmon or mackerel.
But I am not going there. I am looking at this as a digestif after a hearty bout with pig meat. My Spezial rauchbier lager pours a deep orange amber like Youngs Special London Ale. It has a rich off white head that resolves to froth and rim. On the nose it has far less uncious greasy smoke than the Schlenkerla rauchbier that comes thourgh the LCBO that I also use as a ribeye marinade sorta like I described in Session 8. In the mouth, it is lovely - round caramel malt and cream yeast meets measured smokiness. The smoke is most pronounced in the second before you sip and in the long finish. DOn't get me wrong - this is smoky. It is just not like licking an ashtray. Lew explains that this is because Spezial uses less than 25% of the smoked malt than Schlenkerla even though the support the same local Bamburgian fitba team and both smoke their own malt. This is the beer I want to drink as I eat meats soaked overnight in the much stronger Schlenkerla - though I might prefer Schlenkerla with smoked salmon. It is like a rich Vienna lager with smoke. Lovely and earns BAer respect.