Störtebeker Whisky-Bier (Germany: Smoked Beer: 9% ABV)
Visual: Pale yellow. Some carbonation. Clear. Large yellow white mound of a head.
Nose: Caramel. Wet wood (kind of like sail ships). Custard. Smoke. Blended whisky. Kippers. Blue cheese.
Body: Syrup. Blue cheese. Light medicinal notes. Blended whisky. Orange zest. Custard. Brown sugar. Apricot. Smoked beef.
Finish: Brown sugar. Shortbread. Blue cheese. Syrup. Smoked beef.
Conclusion: Ok, smoked, this is smoked. I was not expecting smoked. In fact, this is not much at all like what I expected from the name – and that comes with a mix of the good and the bad. Where shall I start? Hmm, I’m feeling like a Little Mr Negative today, so let’s start with the down side.
Well it is a high abv beer and doesn’t deal with it particularly subtly. The body is sweet and syrupy, really declaring itself as boozy in the simplest manner possible. It doesn’t feel like there has been any attempt to optimise the attenuation for a balanced beer. Despite that the thick texture is pleasant and it doesn’t feel too harsh to drink – just simple and boozy.
The upside? Well the smoke is subtle but most wonderfully it brings a delicious blue funky cheese aroma with it. Even better it follows that into the body – the blue cheese weights in heavily and it is that which turns the thick boozy texture into a chewable and tasty beer rather than a sickly one. It similarly brings a smoked beer character, making a whole smorgasbord in a glass.
Oddly the whisky of the name seems like less of an influence than the aforementioned notes. There is a kind of cheaper whisky blend character and an obviously alcohol and sweet character – generally the only real call I can see that stands out is a spirity character at times to the main body.
So, what happens when you bring all these different strings of its bow together? Well it is ok, a bit raw, but for all that I love its blue cheese notes. Frankly it could do with lower abv I feel – as a more restrained beer this could be excellent.
Unfortunate as it is, by the end the sweet side of the beer overwhelmed the blue cheese. However it had its moments, and they were wonderful moments, even if it is far from a masterclass on how to do a brew.
Background: Not 100% sure why this is called whisky bier, I don’t think it has been barrel aged. Trying to pick words I recognised out of the German I think this was made using whisky malt, but I could be wrong. As always no expense has been spared in my research. Another beer that was a birthday gift from friends. Many thanks! Drunk while listing to some 4Bitten, saw them live a few years ago and they made enough of an impact that I still listen to them to this day.