Against The Grain Mac Fanny Baw

Against The Grain: Mac Fanny Baw (USA: Smoked: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow brown. Massive off white bubbled head with a slight orange hue. Some moderate carbonation.

Nose: Big smoke. Iodine to turpentine. Peat. A burnt to a crisp steak. Spice. Wood (cedar wood?) Wood fire ovens. Hickory smoke.

Body: Aromatic wood (cedar?), Dried beef jerky. Light caramel. Salt touch. Bready middle. Peat. Smoke. Slight brown sugar to treacle sponge.

Finish: Light oak. Smoke. Dried meat – beef and smoked pork, with salted character. Drying and spicy.

Conclusion: I wish I had spent more time sniffing wood. Ok that may be a statement that needs more explanation. Just maybe.

The thing is, as well as the distinct medicinal and huge smoke aroma, this has a very distinctive aromatic wood element. An element which then follows through the body into a spicy and wood filled finish.

Of course, I’d be damned if I could say which wood though. Hence the original statement. Which ever one it is, it really adds to the experience here making a really smoky beer a much more complex experience than more attempts at a similar style.

This is quite the substantial rauchbier with an almost bready chewyness to it – though thankfully the smoke is more peat than ash tray. Some smoked beers can go beyond my smoke tolerance, but this comes in big yet with dried, salted, and yes smoked meat elements that gives me something I can grip. It feels like the beef jerky kind of level of meat, all the succulence is gone, leaving just hard chunks of flavour that fight back.

In some ways it reminds me of Yeastie Boys‘ Rex Attitude but with much more complexity due to that wood effect and slight underlying sweetness. It may not be the most varied rauch – I have run into a few stunners I am trying to find again to review, but it is a decent attempt.

This is a beer that will dry you out, between the abv, smoke and the salt, it is very possible I would have enjoyed this more in a smaller bottle. Or by sharing it. Though I will admit that it does look awesome in the big glass.

It is a hard beer to get used to, that thick almost turpentine meets medicinal effect is massive on the lead in, the wood and smoke chews on the main body, and the spice and salt make it drying on the way out. It is very lovely, but does wear out its welcome before the end due to its sheer weight.

So share this beer. Or have it with food. Just do something to mix it up so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. But if you do that you will find it a very well crafted beer.

Background: I generally find things with “Against” in the name are good – see “Against The Day”, “Rage Against The Machine”, “Rise Against” and “Against Me!”. I also find the name Mac Fanny Baw funnier than it has any right to be. So of course I picked up a bottle of this from Independent Spirit. This is a rauchbier aged in Bourbon barrels with added Alderwood smoked salt, that I drank while listening to Bad Religion’s Against the Grain. because of course I did.

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