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Beer Review #252 Backyard Ale

Not too long ago I reviewed a beer from Flying Dog Brewery and I have yet another one today. I can generally count on seeing a new beer from them every time I visit the beer store. They put out a lot of solid beers along with an amazing variety. They have to rival Dogfish Head in terms of number of different beers produced.

Backyard Ale didn’t have any descriptors on the bottle, but a 7.5% alcohol rating. The beer pours an amber color that matches the label. There is an off-white head that sits firmly on the top through the whole drink. The nose is packed with malt and has a slight smoke to it. I didn’t get any hops, just malt and some smoke.

There is a nice sweetness on the front end. It wasn’t malty or caramely, just sweet. It is then followed by a smoky-sweet back end. The smoke is help in a really nice balance with the sweetness. Unlike some smoked beers that I have had, the smoke isn’t center stage. It fits into the beer nicely and provide a nice flavor additive.

This one wasn’t bad. It took me back to the summer months when I was BBQing in the backyard. The smoke actually goes nicely with the late fall as well. One of my neighbors has a wood burning stove and on cold night the air is full of wood burning goodness. This beer makes we want to sit on the deck and look at the stars while taking in the smokiness.

Beer Review #156 Bonfire Rauchbier

I’ve never really been a big fan of smoked beers. I had one in college from a local unnamed brewery and it tasted like I licked the ashes of a fire pit. My friend who was with me at the time remarked that it tasted like band aids. Since that time I have had a few good smoked beers that fall into the smoked porter world. Boston Beer Company a.k.a Sam Adams released a Rauchbier with their fall pack this year. If you don’t know a Rauchbier is a German style beer where some of the malt has been dried by flame instead of normal heat. The flame imparts a smokey flavor to the grain, which in turn gives a smokey flavor to the beer.

Bonfire Rauchbier pours a nice amber color and is accompanied by a white head. Certainly not what you would expect from something that promises smokey flavors, but that is what a Rauchbier normally looks like. The nose is what I will describe as a “meaty” smoke. There was some real body and depth to the smoke, like it had been put into a butchers smokehouse.

On the first taste I got (you guessed it) some smokey flavor. Behind the smoke was some really nice caramel and toffee notes that added a nice layer of complexity to the beer. Just like a lot of Sam Adams beers I find this one to be an approachable version of the style. There are more aggressively smoked beers out there, but this one is nice. It wasn’t too heavy on the smoke and allowed some other flavors to come through. I enjoyed it and my taste buds are warming up to the idea of exploring more smoked beers.