I've been waiting just about forever for Jack's Abby to come out with a German-style rauchbier (their Smoke & Dagger is more like a smoked porter with a less full body to really hit the style definition on the head), also known as a smoked beer, since I first started following the Framingham brewery.
This is a great time of year for these bizarre and interesting beers, which typically feature full-bodied smoky flavors sometimes approaching or even fully embracing what most would describe as "meatiness."
This beer pours a very tepid looking yellow with a solid, thick-looking and foamy head that displays quite adequate lacing as it diminishes. The straw-yellow body is fairly opaque, as is typical of Jack's, and the carbonation rises with cylinders of focused bubbles.
The scent is nutty, earthy lager yeast combining with flavorful and chewy bacon, Munich style malts, light wheat and a somewhat-Saaz leaning hop presence.
On the tongue, the initial flash of bready malt is overtaken by medium-high carbonation and pushes onwards to a middle of smoked ham and wooden characteristics. There's also a slight fruitiness.
Though a bit lighter bodied overall, this seems to be a nice take on the style without overdoing the smoke and meat flavors.
I find the label's warning of "intense smokiness" to be a bit silly and overwrought, especially because this doesn't seem to approach the smokiness found in its German counterparts, but it does succeed in other ways.
With Fire in the Ham, Jack's Abby prove yet again that they can craft "traditional" style German lagers with premium American craft brewing ingredients and know-how.
The official breakdown:
- Style: Rauchbier / Smoked Beer
- ABV: 5.4%
- Appearance: A fizzy-looking golden/straw-yellow with low clarity, compact and hazy head and surprisingly strong lacing. A bit too bright looking in my opinion
- Scent: Nutty and crisp lager yeast mingles with smoky malts and scents of meat with spicy and floral notes. Malt seems on the lighter side with some biscuit/cracker-like aspects
- Taste: Very meaty and chewy with a nice medium-body that contains crisp malt and woodsmoke without going too heavy on either. Hop presence is surprisingly earthy
- Mouthfeel: Carbonation seems heavy at first but calms down immensely over the course of the pour. Very solid with medium feel thanks to smooth wheat or Munich-like malt
- Drinkability: This is a really approachable and easily drinkable rauch in the traditional style; it's one of the only things of its kind by a local brewery, too!
Read more at http://blogs. lowellsun.com/beer/.