I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of smoke beers. To me, they all came in one flavor….campfire. I could pick it out of whatever I was drinking and just couldn’t get past it. Never did I go back for a second pint.
With that as the backdrop, I helped launch our smoked malt program a few months back. This move was driven primarily to support product requests from our distillery customers. Little did I know this would open doors to all kinds of interesting projects.
The finished beers I’ve tasted with these new products have really opened my eyes to new ways that smoked malt can be used. The malts serve more of a supporting role adding depth and complexity without dominating the conversation. I’ve picked up notes of walnut oil, honey, dark fruit, and black cherry as we’ve mixed and matched different woods with different malts.
Check out a few of the highlights below…
Pecan Smoked Wheat
I knew we had a hit with this one as soon as I tasted it! Since there is no husk on a wheat berry I was skeptical of how much flavor pickup we could achieve. Happy to report I was wrong!
The rich, bready texture of our standard Appalachian Wheat melds perfectly with the honeyed, dark fruit notes contributed from the smoke.
Cherry Smoked Vienna
This one was a special request from a distiller. Cherrywood provided by the good folks at Carolina Cookwood (Upstate SC).
Our Vienna contributes a wealth of sweet aromatics ranging from cake batter to vanilla and honey. Surprisingly, the wood contributes a slightly tart, black cherry finish that balances the sweetness. Somebody needs to try this with a brett beer!!!!
Fig Wood Smoked Base Camp
Our friends from Bhramari Brewing brought over some foraged fig wood for this batch. Gary and I pulled up our camp chairs and hung out while the fire the crackled. This conversation gave rise to the MoonSong Virtual Beer Festival that we collaborated on.
Base Camp supplies notes of honeysuckle and bread crumb that were enhanced by the fig wood smoke. More dark fruit and floral aromatics were observed post smoke. This malt went into a Helles style lager collab with Hi-Wire, Terry’s Big Adventure. The finished beer reminded me of Schlenkerla Helles (which doesn’t actually use smoked malt). The fruit was complimentary…..so good I ordered a second!
More to come as we expand this program in 2021. Feel free to reach out with your ideas….we are always open to suggestions!