Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the category “Smoke”

Throwback Brewery Campfire Smoked Porter

A good friend of mine from the “live free or die” state recently brought me a bomber of Campfire Smoked Porter by a small brewery named Throwback Brewery. Throwback is located in North Hampton, NH and from what I see on their website, currently only distribute within the state. They pride themselves on using local ingredients and strive to eventually be 100% local all the way down to the malt as was done by many small breweries pre-prohibition (Hence the name Throwback).Throwback Campfire

I thought a porter would be a good follow-up to my last review on Sierra’s Narwhal Stout. What is the difference between a Porter and a stout you may be asking? Well, I was asking and it is actually a good question that does not seem to have one answer. Some say it is simply that a stout is a stronger version of a Porter. Others note the use of roasted barley in Stouts gives a more roasted taste. The problem is there are many exceptions to many rules, especially in today’s craft brewing scene. Not to mention variations of each like Baltic Porters and Milk Stouts.

Yeah, so I didn’t answer the question either. Moving on…

The Campfire Smoked Porter weighs in at 6.4% ABV and 48 IBUs. The” smoked” portion of this beer is created by smoking the malts of New Hampshire applewood. I don’t usually talk pairings, but the Throwback suggests barbecue or s’mores off a campfire. S’mores? Seriously? Well ok, I probably would try it if I was ever around a campfire.

Now down to business. After I let the bottle sit out for about 15-20 minutes to warm up, I pour from the 22oz bottle into my tulip glass. Appearance is a black body with a khaki head; a lot of head as seen in the picture. I actually poured two glasses thinking I made a bad pour the first time.

Throwback Campfire GlassThe aromas are smoke and well, that is really all I can detect.  I could actually smell the smokiness immediately after opening the bottle. This smells exactly like a German Rauchbier (maybe on the lighter side).

When I take my first sip, the smoke jumps out immediately, but not as overwhelming as I expected based on the aroma. I taste the bitterness of the hops coming through followed by a beautiful espresso finish. Little bit of that bitterness lingers. Exceptional balance for sure.

The mouth feel is that of a full-bodied beer with plenty of carbonation present. Stings the tongue a little at first and leaves a slightly syrupy layer in the mouth.

Overall I am a bit conflicted with this beer. I don’t like that flood of smoke in the aroma every time I stick my nose into the glass while taking a sip. However; the taste of smoke, hops, and coffee flavors are extremely well-balanced and have me going back for more. I am going to rate this 3.75 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale. I recommend this beer as a “try it if you see it” if you like a little smoke in beers, if not it may not be your thing so step away unless feeling adventurous. I definitely will be requesting another Throwback beer from my NH connection on his next trip home.

To learn more about Throwback Brewery, check out their website at: http://throwbackbrewery.com/.  If you are interested in the porter vs stout conversation, here is one of the articles I read by the respected magazine Beer Connoisseur: http://www.beerconnoisseur.com/porter-versus-stout. Cheers!


Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Over the last week I was fortunate enough to spend some time with great friends in OBX (Hatteras, NC) and I decided it was finally time to bust out the Rogue Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale. Definitely the perfect time for a morning tasting with no responsibilities for days, so that is what we did once we got the bacon sizzling. Rogue, located in Newport, Oregon, is known for well… their rogue attitude when brewing beer. When I saw the bright pink bottle on the shelf offering a bacon flavored beer, I can’t say I was too surprised. This beer is named after Voodoo Doughnut, a legendary Portland donut shop known for their crazy toppings which I am proud to say I was able to recognize after seeing them on Donut Paradise (Travel Channel) a couple of years back. Don’t judge. With a little encouragement from the store keeper, I decide to make the $12 (22oz bottle) purchase to see if they could pull this off.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

I poured out three four ounce samples for my first willing tasters and I. The appearance was a deep orange, maybe copper with white head. Nothing too strange there, but then I take a wiff of the aromas detecting a nice maple scent. Mentally it was tough to comprehend a sweet, sweet maple scent coming from my beer despite being fully aware of what I was getting us into. I was actually surprised that the bacon did not really stand out, though there was a smoke aroma which some may say is the bacon. Time to taste; so we clink the glasses to our morning start and dive in. Holy smoke! The 3 smoked malts used, to include house-smoked hickory malt, are quite overwhelming. Maple is definitely there, along with a hint of bacon and grain/wheat. The mouth feel is very smooth and moderately dense. I have only tried a couple, but the smoke taste immediately brought to mind a Rauchbier (specifically Sam Adams Bonfire Rauch). Overall, I was disappointed that the flavors didn’t really balance out well as the smoke flavor was way too harsh. It was definitely worth try, but I would not recommend buying this beer unless you have some friends around to finish the bottle with you. When I return home to write my review based on my notes and conduct additional research I realized this is considered a smoke beer (Beer Advocate) which some may say is the same as a Rauchbier. I did not taste expecting this, so I may not have been so taken by the smoke had I known. Hard to say either way. I give credit to Rogue for keeping it Oregon weird and will continue to try their off the wall ales. However, I have to give a rating of 2 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale.

Read more about Rogue at http://rogue.com/index.php and for the curious doughnut fans: http://voodoodoughnut.com/index.php

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