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Beer #24 – January 24, 2010: Weyerbacher Fireside Ale

January 24, 2010

Beer: Fireside Ale

Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Easton, Pennsylvania

Style: Smoked Beer

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $7.99 / 4-pack

Availability: Winter Seasonal

Glassware: Mug

Strength: 7.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: While I love smoked beers, the level of smokiness determines the drinkability for me.  This one has enough smoke to be noticed and to enhance the flavor, but not so much that it is difficult to finish a pint.  The somewhat high alcohol content is well masked, so proceed with caution.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark chestnut brown with a full and foamy white head.

Aroma: Mild aroma, definitely malty, with a suggestion of smoke.

Mouthfeel: Thin but creamy.

Taste: There is an initial grainy, cereal sweetness that progresses into a woody, nutty, caramel middle (definite granola bar comparisons here).  There’s a hint of maple syrup in there too.  The smoke comes through in the finish, very present at first, but becomes milder as I drink.  Between the smoke and the hops, this one finishes somewhat bitter, with a hint of charcoal.  Very appropriate “outdoorsy” flavors for a beer named “Fireside”, though being released in the middle of Winter, makes me long for a camping trip!

Pairing: Malty, smoky beers are just meant for meat, whether the subtle smoke of a good ham, or the more pronounced smoke of authentic Southern barbeque.  Also would pair nicely with a chili flavored with cumin.

Trivia: At one time, all beer was smoked beer.  Until the mid 1700’s, really the only way of roasting or kilning malt was by using a wood fire, which naturally lead to some degree of smoke flavor in the beer.  With the innovation of coke-dried malt, and the desire for “cleaner” tasting beer, this smoky character in beer almost disappeared entirely, with just a few notable exceptions including peat-smoked Scottish Ales and a few German breweries producing Rauchbier, an intentionally smoked brew.  Today, some American craft brewers have rediscovered the unique flavor that smoked malt can bring to a beer.

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