Heller: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (Germany: Smoked: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Brown good sized frothy and bubbled head.

Nose: Smoked bacon. Smoke. Malt chocolate. Beef broth. Blue cheese.

Body: Beefy. Malt chocolate. Light chalk. Smoke. Vanilla. Light salt and medicinal notes. Thick mouthfeel. Slight treacle and toffee. Light fruitcake.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Smoke. Medicinal notes. Ash. Dried beef. Charcoal. Dry air. Chalk.

Conclusion: First time I tried a smoke beer I had to give up half way through as it tasted like an ash tray. Aecht Schlenkerla have generally been on the smokier end of the spectrum in my experience, which made me a tad nervous going into this, but I actually found it much more rewarding than those first, early, experiences would ever have indicated.

The aroma holds all the best of the good stuff that smoke can bring to a beer – you get smoked bacon, blue cheese and some other meaty, beefy notes.

The body is more restrained in the big flavours – it is still kind of beefy, with malt chocolate in the main base. The raw smoke comes out more than the smoked bacon or cheese notes, however it also brings mildly medicinal, slightly salted notes that call to Islay whisky. It is heavy duty, smooth mouthfeel – but, unlike some other Aecht Schlenkerla beers it feels like it lacks the awesome notes of the aroma.

The finish comes in closest to the ash tray like beer style I couldn’t finish before. It has big smoke, light chalk and lightly charred – theough still with hints of the chococlate and beef. It is harsh but well made for the level of ash like notes.

It is ok by me, but could be a little overly harsh for people not into this level of smoke. The ash tray like notes that are a flaw to me, are still well made notes for those who enjoy them – just a touch too intense for me. However even with that the mouthfeel is smooth and this is packed with flavour.

Very enjoyable overall, not an introductory smoke beer, and will definitely be too heavy duty for some, but still a genuinely good beer.

Background: You know, I always though the brewery was “Aecht Schlenkerla” – a quick google told me I was wrong, it is Brauerei Heller. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is kicking the shit out of someone. That is the less fun half. Anyway, this was kindly brought back from Germany for me by my parents – many thanks. Drank it while I was visiting them over the winter holidays. Aecht Schlenkerla were one of the first smoked beers I ever encountered, back before I became acclimatised to them, so I was intrigued to go back to them and see if I could cope better now – I’ve tried other variants over the years, but this is the first time with the classic Marzen. If you are wondering about the odd glass choice – I originally had it in a different glass, and had put the cap back off the bottle while I took a photo. The cap promptly popped into the air, and landed right in the pint and refused to leave, necessitating decanting over into this new glass so not to end up doing tasting notes on a metal cap.

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