Monday, 22 September 2008

Schlenkerla vs. Spezial - The Märzens

As with the last round, this one starts with Brauerei Spezial Bamberg but this time their Märzen. This pours a clear rich amber with a thin tan head. The aroma is somewhat fruity, in a fresh appealing way. Like fresh cooking apples. A bit like the Lagerbier, this has a restrained smokiness. It lingers on the tongue after the sweet caramel-like malts wash down. There's a slight bitterness that is spicey in nature, with an almost gingery warmth. Apples come out again in the finish. I hate to describe it like this, but I can't help thinking apple pie with a salty shortbread crust. Interesting. Unfortunately, after a while it gets a bit sticky-sweet and, for me at least, it wasn't really as enjoyable as their Lagerbier.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Brauerei Heller Bamberg was the first Rauchbier I ever tried about four or five years ago, so I was keen to revisit it. Even taking a sniff of the bottle after opening it told me this was going to be a more smokey experience. Pouring a deep ruddy brown, like well polished mahogony, it even looks smokey. The power of suggestion! The aroma isn't really as in-your-face as I recalled, but there was no mistaking that smoked ham-like tone. And to me, that's exactly what this beer tastes like. There are toffee-like flavours lurking underneath it all, but that sweet smoke dominates. The whole thing is drier than the Special offering, and this makes it a cleaner beer and easier to drink for it. I had been worried I'd find the smoke overpowering, but my memories had clearly amplified it. As it was, I found the smoke sweet and very enjoyable.

For this round the Schlenkerla wins, due in part to a more smokey experience, but mainly because I found it a more balanced beer that was simply more enjoyable to drink.

10 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

A fortnight ago I had to promise a vegetarian that there was no actual pigmeat in the Schlenkerla I'd given him to sniff, and that it was safe to taste.

"Tt's like someone put some Bacon Fries in a pint of Guinness." Some of my friends have a fairly limited beer vocabulary.

Adeptus said...

Yet it's not a bad description (apart from the Guinness bit)!

Did you tell him about the fish swim bladders? :P

Velky Al said...

First time I had the marzen I found it too much on the smoke, although it has become a stlye that I really like. I love the Rauchweizen from Schlenkerla. I wonder though, as the malt is smoked over beech, what effect different woods have on the flavour. For example oak or pine, plus what about chucking herbs into the smoker?

Adeptus said...

I reckon any wood you'd use to give a different smoked flavour in a BBQ would do a great job on malt. I'm thinking the likes of maple, hickory ("there's nothin' like a nice piece of hickory") or apple wood (I like applewood cheese). Not sure I'd like the pine fresh version :D

Thinking of herbs, I was looking at a recipe for Oregano beer. A herb smoked malt would probably be much more subtle.

Velky Al said...

I was thinking about pine because the Vikings used pine sprigs in their brews, a tradition continued by the makers of Fraoch: http://www.fraoch.com/historicales.htm

Adeptus said...

Actually, now that you mention it, in the same book the Oregano beer was in there is a recipe for Spruce beer.

Did you mean the Alba rather than the Fraoch (heather ale)? I had the Fraoch ages ago and can't remember it, but never tried the Alba.

So many interesting things I'd love to try in my own brews!

Velky Al said...

I meant the Alba, but used Fraoch as an example because it is probably a better known beer.

Velky Al said...

Slightly off topic, but what happened to your Crash landbier article? When I click on it I get a message saying that the post does not exist.

Adeptus said...

Bloody Blogger. I wrote a short rant last night and hit publish, but it actually wasn't ready. So I reset the date and saved as draft (you'll see it tomorrow!), but for some reason the feed seems to think it's still there. And I wanted to change the title too! That'll really confuse it!

Paul Garrard said...

Just discovered your blog. I've enjoyed Schlenkerla Rauchbier on the few occasions that I've had it. Nice winter beer me thinks.