Nose: Hints of vanilla. Oaky. Sweet.
Mouth: Medium body. Tangy, smokey, chocolate and coffee flavors. Finishes dry and malty. After taste is sweet, malty, crisp and smokey.
OK, so finding out info on this has been difficult at best. What I did find out though was that this was “Charlie” from the Weyerbacher’s Brewer’s Select Series that they are putting in regular rotation as a seasonal brew. First release was December 2012-January 2013.
When I cracked open my first one, this was bitter and strongly flavored. It wasn’t as enjoyable as I was hoping it would be. Disappointed I let it sit for a while. It’s now halfway through February and I must say it’s mellowed nicely. Weyerbacher says that this “is an intricate dark ale with a touch of smokiness. The rich malt flavor, crisp bitterness and smoke reach perfect equilibrium in this brew.” That first one, I looked at the bottle, found that description online and thought “They’re nuts.”
Now that it’s mellowed though and much of that puckering sourness I found in that first one has mellowed, the description they give is spot on! Thhere is a very strong, smokey profile. Not like a BBQ smokey profile though. Like when you go outside on a cold winter’s night. The trees are glistening in the faint light of a moon or even a lonely street light that seems to shiver in the biting wind howling through the ice covered branches. You breath deep and get a chest full of the cold winter air. Laced on that air is the intoxicating aroma of someone’s fireplace smoldering it’s last gasps of it’s firey fury fighting back Jack Frosts best efforts as the few embers seem to sink deep and dimmer in to the ash.
That’s the kind of smokiness that’s here. It’s not peaty nor is it aromatic. Very little of it comes through in the nose. There is an oakyness and vanilla aroma, like what is imparted from aging beer in a bourbon cask. I’m not sure if it’s aged though. Honestly, it just adds to the smoky experience.
It finishes delightfully dry with that slight tingle you get from a good, smooth scotch. It’s not as pronounced as scotch but it’s there. Then the aftertaste is sweet, crisp, malty and smokey all at once. It’s an assault on the senses but not in a bad way. Every sip starts out as a slow burn with this explosion of flavors that simmer in the after taste until that last gasp, like that wisp of waxy smoke that just hangs in the air when a candle is snuffed.
It’s warming but honestly, this was best ice cold. I couldn’t even tell you what kind of a brew this is. Everyone is calling it a smoked ale but honestly, it reminds me more of a porter, which is also an ale. Maybe it’s a little of both? I’m not sure. All I know is that this is pretty dang good. It has a couple of short comings like the letting it sit part. Granted, there are many beers that are like that and just mellow and improve with age. Thing is though, for a whiskey or other spirit, great. Let it sit. Beer isn’t synonymous with aging. So some might grab this and be put off by it immediately. Overall though, this is defintely worth a try. It should still be on shelves now and with the way the weather is around my parts, there’s still plenty of sub-freezing nights ahead. So go ahead and grab yourself a fistful of a midwinter’s night!
Makes me wish my house had a fireplace.