Ridgeway: Querkus (England: Smoked Porter: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Grey dust head.

Nose: Bitter coffee and sweet chocolate. Smoked meat.

Body: Smooth. Smoke. Salt touched meat. Vinous back. Sour cherry sweets. Toffee. Light gin edges. Sherbet lemon. Steak. Slight brandy in the middle. Fizzy feel but not carbonated style. Raisins.

Finish: Sweet red wine. Smoke and meat platters. Bitter coffee. Vanilla. Oak. Raisins. Quite drying.

Conclusion: The thing with smoked beers is that often smoke becomes “The thing”. Even if the beer isn’t pure smoke, which happens often, it is often “The gimmick” which defines the beer. So you end up with a solid beer with smoke, but rarely with another twist (By the way, don’t ask who I’m quoting here, probably myself for all I know).

This has a smoky and accompanying smoked meat character, but also a lovely vinous red wine like influence that puts a whole new spin on things. It is rich and slightly fruity and the contrast between the two poles is just a delight.

There is a touch of the traditional coffee and chocolate there but they are the dance floor on which the two twists of smoke and wine twirl upon. Now, the beer could do with a touch thicker texture, it feels slightly fizzy and sherbety at times, though maybe a touch of ageing will smooth that out. I feel if the beer was a bit smoother and thicker it would feel like an utter luxury of a beer.

As is it is a very nice beer, and at the cost you can pick it up for it is remarkable value for money. It punches way above its abv and price. So, a very nice beer, great use of smoked character but doesn’t rely on it. Frankly it feels too high quality to have too often, lest you get too used to it, like having steak every day. Not perfect but really pushes what can be done without ramping up the abv and cost.

Background: “Where are the rest of the collabfest beers?“ I hear you ask. Actually I don’t because, you know, internet, but I’m using a rhetorical flourish here, go with it. I figured twelve Brewdog collaborations back to back may leave out fans of other brewers so I’m going to be intermingling my other tasting here and there to keep some variety going. This is another one picked up when Sainsbury were doing their new beer range. I’m fairly sure I saw Querkus is a top x list one day or another so I thought I’d grab a bottle to give it a try. This is a smoked porter aged over chips of French oak.