Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breakfast Beer

It's true that I've tried a lot of beer, but that doesn't make me an expert on all beer. There is far too much beer, too many styles, that I haven't tried.

Last week, at the Ottawa Beer TAP Society dinner, Mill Street's head brewer, Adam Rader, was surprised that I hadn't tried a particular style of German beer.

"What do you mean, you haven't had it?" he asked, "It's available everywhere." Everywhere, meaning all or most LCBO outlets. "We stock it at the bar," he continued, meaning his brew pub, "the next time you're in, I'll split one with you."

True to his word, the next day (the same day that Hannah gave me a bottle of Rosée d'Hibiscus), Adam and I sat at the bar, and Pete served us up a few bottles of this ale. It was the first time that I had consumed a beer that wasn't from Mill Street in their brew pub.

And I loved it.

Adam has never steered me wrong on beer.

When I left the pub, I went straight to my neighbourhood LCBO and purchased two bottles. It was a start.

Here's the beer:
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (Smoke beer; 5.1% ABV)
Brauerei Heller
Bamberg, Germany
Beer O'Clock rating: 4
Appearance: deep toffee, dark copper body with a full, creamy beige head that pours thick (the brewery recommends that the beer be poured so that a third of the glass is all head) and slowly dissipates to a thin lace that coats the top of the beer.

Nose: loads of smoked sausage or barbecued pork, and a rich malt.

Palate: intense smoke, caramelized oats, and a mild Oktoberfest sausage that drops off to a mild, short finish.

Overall impression: I could easily enjoy this beer at breakfast, using it to wash down one of my Borg sandwiches. Only, I wouldn't need any meat in the sandwich; the beer would cover that ingredient. There is a unique flavour to this beer; I have never experienced anything that gets me salivating like this smoke beer does.

The brewery's Web site provides plenty of information about this beer, from how it is made to how it's meant to be served. As with any brewery Web site, I avoid reading any description or tasting notes about the beer I'm about to review, but I'm glad I visited the serving page: it told me the proper temperature at which to serve it and the proper glass that is used to hold it.

Some people might find the smoke aromas and flavours overpowering, but with the easy-drinkability (look: I just made up a word! and it's long, just like they do in Germany!), I find there's a perfect balance that makes this an enjoyable beer, and something that I'd happily have again.

And if I don't want to drink it at home, I know where I can get some and enjoy it with good company.


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