Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rauch Dunkel - Smoked Dark Lager Tasting

Lagers take a bit more time to turn around that ales, but at a low gravity and with some chocolate rye and German Beechwood smoked malt my Smoked Dark Lager is drinking pretty well just 6 weeks after I brewed it. Turned out to be just what I was craving, moderate smoke, big bready malt, drinkable even in the summer heat, and great with grilled food. 

Smoked Dunkel - Rauch Dark Lager.  Nice red color when held to the light.Rauch Dunkel - Smoked Dark Lager

Appearance – Transparent (well just a bit of haze) leathery brown topped by a three-finger off-white head. Nice looking beer, certainly plays the part of a traditional Dunkel. The head falls sooner than expected though, a short protein rest might have helped there.

Smell – Bread crust, light smoke, and a touch of spicy hops. The depth of the breadiness is very nice. Clean fermentation character (no buttery diacetyl or fruity esters), I'm impressed with the performance of the W-34/70 strain.

Taste – Rich and malty with a pleasant sweet smoke in the finish. The smoke isn't potent enough to give it the hammy/sausage flavor of some of the more aggressive German rauchbiers (cough Aecht Schlenkerla cough). Leans towards the malty, but there is enough bitterness to leave me wanting another sip. Again I'm surprised just how clean this is for pitching dry lager yeast right out of the package (I'll have to try the strain in a subtler recipe).

Mouthfeel – Moderate-low carbonation plus a surprisingly full body for a 4.5% ABV beer.

Drinkability & Notes – The perfect dark beer for a summer day, low in alcohol, balanced, but with enough character to stand up to barbeque or burgers.  I'll have to brew an ampled-up version of this for winter (smoked Baltic porter?).


-- said...

I have also had luck with the Saflager 34/70. Last year I brewed a Chili Pepper Lager with 34/70 and a dash of smoked malt that ended up winning 3rd place in the Spice/Herb/Vegetable category of the CASK Beer Blitz.

Also relating to dry lager yeast, I'm drinking a 4% abv Vienna Lager I brewed with Saflager S-23 (Wyeast 2308 starter never took off). Its great and well attenuated. However it fermented a tad warm 53F and it has just a hint of fruity ester.

danger said...

little off topic (meant for your last post), but, what carbon filter do you use? and, what kind of gallons per minute do you get? im looking for a new one.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I bought one from Paragon from Amazon a couple years ago (sadly they seem to have stopped selling the model). This one is close:

I run it pretty slow, maybe 1/2 gallon per minute? I could run it faster, but I figure a slower flow gives better filtration. I need to get a new one soon, not sure if I'll just replace it or go for an under-sink model.

You can always comment on old posts, I get email notification.

Andy said...

After following your SIP recipe a month or so ago and loving the results, I figured I'd give this one a go. Swapped out the Saflager 34/70 with Wyeast 2112 due to fermenting capabilities and now have it lagering at 36ish F for a couple weeks. Tasted it on Saturday and didn't get much smoke. Nice beer, just not as smoky as I was anticipating.

On another note, I did a second mash with the spent grains along with 2 lbs of munich and a few oz of roasted malt & black malt and then another 2 lbs of pilsner extract to the boil. Fermented with Saf 04 just for the heck of it and got a nice roasty, malty dark ale with even more subtle smoke.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

That is one of the problems with smoke malt can be highly variable. That said, this was intended to be a lightly smoky beer. I'm actually planning to go something similar again, but pump the smoke up to ~60% to give it a more potent smoked character. Sounds like a great capped second beer.

Glad you enjoyed the Scandinavian Imperial Porter, I’m down to my last bottle of it.

Andy said...

I was way off base on that previous comment. After another week the subtle smokey flavor and aroma really popped. I think I got anxious with this one because it is really in balance. I did put it back on 20 psi for about 4 days to see if a bit more carbonation could help, and it's possible that played a part in the improved flavor....but it could just be time working its magic.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Excellent! Glad to hear, smoke often comes through a bit more as a beer cleans up a bit (before fading again).