Bacon Beer as a Well Earned Compliment
A Review of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock by Schlenkerla / Heller-Trum Brauerei
Posted on 5/23/2013 by Chops
                   
Exquisite
If honing your craft beer palate was a linear quest, I would imagine that the Rauchbier would be one of the final stops along the way. Rauchbiers, better known as smoked beers, are some of the most mind-bending concoctions on the planet. When you have to use descriptors like ''bacon'' and ''greasy'' to describe a beer, you know you're in for one hell of a strange experience. So going into these beers for the first time, I highly recommend a two tier approach. First, you better have a well trained beer palate. You should be able to rattle off some of your favorite high quality Barleywines, Doppelbocks, Stock Ales, and Belgian Quads. Secondly, you should start with the highest quality smoked beer you can find. And in the world of Rauchbiers, the best are brewed in Bamberg, Germany. Perhaps the most familiar Bamberg brews come from the Schlenkerla line. I recently got to sample the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock.

In the glass, this beer has a dark brown coloration with a faint ruby red tinting. It comes with a frothy tan head that has really good retention. On the nose, I was greeted by a potent blast of honey smoked sweetness. Just think of a honey baked Virginia ham and you're on the right track (yes, seriously). The aroma is very earthy and woody with a high dose of campfire flare. It's rich, thick, and instantly mouthwatering. I couldn't wait to dive in for that first sip.

Wow. Just, wow. I should take a moment to note that if any beer fan went into this smoked nectar blind, it would probably be a complete sensory overload. This beer slams its fists down on your tongue and demands that you give it your undivided attention. Its medium-to-thick body is meaty and chewy, yet it somehow manages to retain a silky smooth character. It's surprisingly easy to drink despite the big aroma and flavor punch. This beer's primary flavors are two fold: smokey sweetness and a charred woody character, both of which are beautifully balanced. Everything else plays second fiddle. I found some caramel, jerky, honey, some mild hops, and an earthy roast. The beer finishes amazingly clean and exits with a balanced aftertaste of light bitterness and smokey sweetness.

Overall, the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock is a succulent brew with a complex personality. This is an amazing beer that I really wish I could recommend to any and all beer fans. But alas, this brew would wreak total havoc on a novice's palate. On the other hand, seasoned drinkers will be blown away by this beer's uniquely enticing flavors. The Schlenkerla line of Rauchbiers are brews that every beer fan needs to try at least once. They are as much educational tools as they are fantastic brews. This is why I recommend starting at the top because bad smoked beers can be train wrecks of lopsided flavor. However, once you've experienced your first high quality ''bacon beer'', I guarantee you'll start seeing that designation as a well earned compliment.

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Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock by Schlenkerla / Heller-Trum Brauerei
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