Friday, 19 September 2008

Franken Sense

A package arrived for me yesterday. It was another box of beer. In fact, another box of beer from Franken, but this time from, an online store specialising in Franconian beers. Their range is pretty impressive, and it took me a while browsing before I placed an order. I wanted a mixed pack of beers I hadn't tried yet, so they kindly took a custom order via mail. Eight days later (I paid by bank transfer) I had my box, the second time in my life I've ordered beer over the Web! Actually, this time I checked the best before dates, and unlike the last time I ordered online, these all have dates well in the future. Good thing too! Although I'm tempted to list them (I just love the names of some of these!) I'll drip feed them over the next few weeks.

There was one beer that really caught my attention, and I couldn't wait to sample it; Brauerei Rittmayer Smokey George, a beer made with peat-smoked distiller's malt sourced from Scotland, as the label clearly states, and the imagery clearly implies.

Interestingly, on the neck label (is there a technical term for this? ) it had the words Highland Circle under the Rittmayer crest. I rummaged about on the Interweb thingy and found that the Highland Circle is a group of people who love all things Scottish, particularly the whisky, based in Nürnberg. They've even registered a Franconian tartan by the looks of it! There's dedication. I wonder was this beer dedicated to them, or if the brewer is a member.

Smokey George is a deep clear amber with low carbonation. Aroma? Talk about Phenols! This has a really peaty smokiness that borders (and will cross over for some) on medicinal. Think diluted TCP. Taking a few mouthfuls gives you a really smooth, almost creamy, mouthfeel, with a plum-like sweetness that gradually turns into a real carmelised malt flavour. But when you stop gulping, the turf comes out and gets you. When you breath out you can feel smoke coming out of your nose. Powerful stuff, but not over-powering. Definitely very different in character to the more traditional Rauchbier of the region. I got used to the phenols halfway down, and could start picking out some ginger-like spiciness, and an almost seaside-air saltiness that I just can't describe, but the whole thing is dominated by caramelised malts and that turf-fire smoke. Mmmm.

Brauerei Rittmayer is based in Hallerndorf, about 30km north of Nürnberg, and it looks like a tiny place I'd like to visit. Can't wait to try some of their other beers!


The Beer Nut said...

Screen licking time!

So it's like MM Imperial without all that roasted stoutiness getting in the way of the peat? That'll do me.

Barry M said...

Send me some MM Imperial and I'll let you know!

There's a Whiskey Nut in my office, and I have a feeling I'll be having to get a small crate of Smokey George for a tasting. I'll bring a bottle back for ya when I next visit if I get it again before that.

Thomas said...

I tried a couple of smoked beers in Copenhagen and must admit they have grown on me somewhat. The best I tried was made with peated whisky malt which provided a more subtle flavour than some of the bacon beers brewed with wood smoked malts.

Barry M said...

I don't think I've had a beer made with peat-smoked malt before this. In fact, I think the closest I came to such a beer would be the Brewdog Paradox that Mr Beer Nut gave me, as it hinted towards those notes. The Smokey George is pretty extreme in the phenol stakes, and I was thinking of you and your comments about Islay whisky. I'm not a huge fan of really heavily peaty whisky, but I found this beer pretty intriguing, not least because it said to me that there are some brewers here who are doing somehting very different to their brethren.

The Beer Nut said...

Just spotted Smokey George on the menu of a pub near where I'll be staying in Nuremberg next month and I remembered this post. Yes, I've been thinking about it for six years now.

Barry M said...

Bloody hell! Six years already? Poor, neglected blog :)

From what I gather, Smokey George isn't around all that often, so I hope there's some there when you arrive. If you get a chance to tr<y some of Rittmayer's other beers, do. I never wrote up notes of some oak-aged bock or eisbocks I had a couple of years ago, but they were really good!