Wild Beer Co: Smoke ‘n’ Barrels: Autumn (England: Smoked Ale: 6% ABV)
Visual: Hazy caramel brown. Moderate off white head.
Nose: Blue cheese. Barbecued sausage. Smoke. Light caramelised brown sugar.
Body: Caramel. Blue cheese. Brown sugar. Light golden syrup. Orange zest and cloudy apple juice. Treacle toffee. Light chalk. Cinnamon and strawberry notes.
Finish: Light oak and smoke. Cloudy apple juice and a touch of orange juice. Cinder toffee. Slight peppermint and nutmeg. Sausage.
Conclusion: Ok, Autumn, this is very definitely Autumn. From the colour of the beer, the smoke, the sweet bonfire night treacle and cinder toffee notes, to the almost more winter touched additional spice – this really calls to mind the curling orange leaves and burning fire of an Autumn night. So – step 1 – appropriate imagery – achievement unlocked!
So – step 2 – does it taste good. Yep. Simple answer. From the aroma through it has a mix of wonderful blue cheese and barbecued cooked sausages; Which are some of my favourite elements that you can get out of smoking a beer.
The lovely smoked flavours are layered over a solid caramel to treacle toffee base. A nice, brown sugar touched, sweetness. Feels like a black lager more than an ale most of the time, but that works well with the sweetness and style. Very big flavour, yet the texture makes it very easy drinking. The only real flaw does come out here though – the black lager like notes can result in an occasional lapse into thin treacle being the sole element – which I tend to associate with lower quality beers. Generally however the other flavours are built up enough that the treacle is but one element in a fine set beer.
Finally, onto this is added a gentle spice and fruitiness. Wonderfully understated – it uses them to accentuate the rest of the beer rather than dominate it. The mix of nutmeg spice, apples and orange zest give rounding notes – warming in the case of the spice, and giving much needed freshness from the fruit that goes against the treacle and sweet dominant main character.
Genuinely easy drinking, yet packed with flavour – Wild Beer Co have swung and missed with a few of their recent beers for me – but this hits it out of the park. A good beer any time, and a perfect beer for the Autumn season.
Background: I grab most Wild Beer co beers that come out – the bottled ones at least. While some of their recent beers have been better ideas than they have been beers, the Smoke ‘n’ Barrels series has been pretty solid -with even the weaker gose entry being ok. This one sounds pretty cool – Smoked, like all of the series – it is made with apples and apple juice, and the wood used for smoking is apple wood. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit – though I have to question the “Autumn” bit, we are in full on winter now, right? Hope we don’t have to wait too long for the actual winter entry. Drunk while listening to a whole bunch of The Eels. Oddly bittersweet music.