Smoke on the Baltic

Smoked beers to me are what oak aged beers are to others. I enjoy the flavors of the smoked malts and drinking one always makes me hungry for a pulled pork sandwich. The Star's article about collaborations with the local food and beverage world brought me the most exciting idea I've read in a while. John from the Wort Hog blog (KC's best beer blog) wants to see Boulevard and LC's pair up to smoke the wheat for Boulevard Wheat and make a smoked wheat beer with it. I'm in love with this idea though I think Woodyard might be a better partner than LC's (mostly because they're pretty close to each other and the name Boulevard Woodyard Wheat has a nice ring to it). It seems a natural fit to have a Kansas City brewer put out a great smoked beer or two (who would be opposed to a smoked Bully). But, instead of focusing on pie in the sky ideas, I picked up a bottle of Great Divide's latest beer, Smoked Baltic Porter.

I've been looking forward to this one for a while now. My own BGBM meter was through the roof with this one, The (R) or rarity is high with smoked and the (D) or deliciousness of porter makes my scale go darn near to the top. Pair that with the Smoked Baltic Porter coming from Great Divide, one of my top 3 favorite breweries and I just couldn't wait to get it. It was quite exciting to find a bomber on the shelf at Gomer's in Lenexa.

It was a little lighter brown than I was expecting. I thought it was going to be black like coal but it had more of a dark chocolate color. I could smell the smoke in it as I carried it over to my Archie Bunker chair as I was settling in to watch Tim Lincecum pitch a playoff gem (16 k's and 2 hits, I'm not sure if he wasn't more impressive than Roy Halladay). The smoke flavor wasn't overpowering and meshed nicely with the chocolate and toffee flavors of the porter. As the beer warmed the smoke flavor dissipated a little but it stayed in the nose so you always got that smoky feel. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to get another.

Smoke beers or rauchbiers are kind of hard to find. Not many breweries make any version of a smoke beer. The most widely available this summer was the Shiner Smokehaus which I've yet to figure out what I think of it. Not many beers confound me, but that one does. I think it might be the perfect session beer for a barbecue dinner. It's definitely worth trying and I'm pretty sure I liked it. it might be a bit hard to find now since it's Shiner's summer seasonal, but I saw it at Gomer's yesterday so it's still around. It's only $6.99/sixer too so it might be a nice introduction to smoke beers if you haven't had one. Fort Collins Brewery also has a rauchbier, Z Lager, but I didn't think much of it when I had it, the smoke flavor just wasn't prevalent enough and it seemed to be a rather boring beer without the smoke. I'm sure commenters have some other rauchbiers or smoke beers they enjoy, I know Paul A. Ner does, so make sure you check the comments if you want to get your smoke on.

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