Under Pressure Brewing Company
You need to drink smoked beers fresh because the smokiness quickly dissipates with age. Too many imports lose their luster sitting in warehouses, shipping containers, and ships even before they hit the retail shelves. My can of Under Pressure Brewing Company Smoked Ale (6.3% alcohol by volume and 118 International bittering units) was packaged four days ago. It has won multiple amateur beer competitions and also placed in the Minnesota State Fair competition. On the pour it has a mild smoke aroma with a rich malt character with hints of chocolate and coffee lightly sweetened by toffee, fruit and caramel. There is a trace of light toast. There are no sharp, phenolic, harsh, rubbery or burnt smoke aromas. It pours brilliant copper brown with garnet highlights under a persistent 3” white cap. Rich malt flavors with an assertive hop bitter presence wrestle with the smoke and keep it under control. The smoke treatment makes its presence known and is assertive but it does not drown out everything else allowing berry notes from the hops and chocolaty, coffee, toffee notes from the malt to shine through. The malt flavors are very well developed. The hop bitterness is big for a smoked beer but it works very pleasantly with the smoke with flavors weaving in and out producing a layered and complex flavor profile. There are not bitter, charred burnt rubbery or medicinal smoky flavors. The body and carbonation is medium. There is not smoky, harsh phenolic astringency. Too many American attempts at smoked beer are either insipid or have an overbearing smokiness. This one swings for the fences and nails it - I give it 93. I especially enjoy how the sugars in the beer – mainly toffee and caramel notes go the smoke and the balance provided by the assertive bitterness. The beer has me yearning for a side of pork ribs.
Go to Classic Style Smoked Beer for a brief discussion of the style, links to reviews of similar beers, food pairings and glassware recommendations.