Friday, December 20, 2019

Rauchy Little Numbers

I mentioned in my previous post that I have recently become a devotee of the Von Trapp Brewing Company from Vermont. Most of my drinking of late has been Trösten, their smoked lager winter seasonal and as I have commented to friends of mine, one of the few smoke beers I have had in the that compare favourably with the rauchbiers of Bamberg, exalted praise yes I know. Given that I work in the academic publishing world, on the IT side, I figured that it really wouldn't do to make such a bold assertion without putting it to the test. With that in mind when last I was in Beer Run to stock up on Trösten I grabbed a bottle of Schlenkerla Ur-bock with which to compare it.

Having let both beers get nice and properly cold, major bugbear of mine is bottle shops that leave cold fermented and cold conditioned beer on a warm shelf, but that's a moan for another day, I asked the wonderful Mrs Velkyal to decant the beers into my nearly identical half litre beer mugs, yeah one is Port City branded and the other Blue Mountain, for a blind tasting with modified Cyclops notes.


Beer A went into the Port City glass...

  • Sight - deep chestnut brown, persistent half inch of rocky light brown foam
  • Smell - Earthy smoke, roasty, dark chocolate, hint of nutmeg spiciness
  • Taste - Subtle smoke, caramalised oranges, clean hop bite that build to firm bitterness, slightly floral, justa touch acrid finish
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2.5
An excellent, balanced beer. I feel as though I got more smoke in the aroma than in the flavour, but the cleanliness of the fermentation was evident, and left me wanting more after each mouthful, definitely something to drink plenty of during the dark winter nights.

On then to the Blue Mountain glass for beer B...

  • Sight - fire ruby red, garnet edges, quarter inch of dark ivory, lingering, foam
  • Smell - distinctive beechwood smoke of Schlenkerla, almost pungent riot of wood, leaf litter, and earthiness
  • Taste - baked Christmas ham, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, slight umami character defying the malt w=sweetness, clean hops in the finish
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
This knocked me out even more so than when I recently had it at the brewpub itself in Bamberg, I had never really appreciated just how distinctive Schlenkerla's smoke aroma and flavour actually are. Instantly I was back at the table in the Dominikerklause savouring each drop of Ur-bock, a simply divine beer.

Perhaps this was an unfair test given that Trösten is 6% while the Ur-bock is 6.5%, so perhaps I will re-run the experiment using the classic Schlenkerla Märzen either as well as or instead of the Ur-bock. Either way the Von Trapp offering held its own and is an excellent rauchbier that I am glad to have available in this part of the world, and yes more shall be imbibed.

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