Goodtimes Craft Beverages

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Tag: Smoke Beer

RETURN OF THE MUMME

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Thirty minutes north of Perth, Indian Ocean Brewing Co has been quietly evolving over the past six months. With plans underway for a re-branding Goodtimes shared a beer with Head Brewer Mal Secourable and Assistant Brewer Joel Nash to find out more.

Before getting into the future we reached into the past as the beer we shared was the Indian Ocean Brewing Co’s Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) entry for 2015. I say the past because the Mumme (prounced Moo-meh) beer is a style of beer that is considered to be extinct or with extremely few modern examples. On the beer family tree it’s a parent of the German Altbier style and was popular in the Middles Ages, being allegedly first brewed in 1492.

Traditional recipes do vary however most include a laundry list of herbs, berries, wild flowers, different types of tree bark and spices like cardamon. Some records show that this was then barrel aged for up to two years creating a strong and high ABV beer.  The guys at Indian Ocean Brewing Co. have taken a more restrained approach to the style.  Their modern version is brilliantly autumnal in colour and smoked beechwood aromas that is perfect for a chilly afternoon.

“It’s not an out of the box beer in the sense that it’s really ‘out there’. It’s still meant to be sessionable in it’s own way. Its malt driven and the smoke is really obvious. We’re huge fans of Schlenkerla (famous German Smoked Beer Brewery) and there are elements of that but its obviously more mild” Mal said.

The Smoked Beechwood is the first noticeable aroma along with a malt focused scents. There is a dryness that rounds off the finish that stops this from being to cloying. The 6.2% ABV isn’t noticeable which makes this a different but very drinkable beer.

“A traditional Mumme style may have be a lessor ABV. There are varying records of the attenuation levels but what was very much a part of the traditional beer was significant and quite varied spicing and literally herbing. A lot of different stuff thrown at it. We kind of stayed away from messing with that too much and really tried create a modern version of it” said Mal.

Joel explains the beer design further. “We took elements of what they were saying it was like and thought about how we could do that through other processes or other ingredients. For example we mashed really high that gave body in the beer because they said it was really worty (sweet unfermented beer). The original version was under-fermented, under attenuated so we mashed high for that. We chose a few spicey, peppery hops to give it a little bit of the traditional character.” Joel said.

Mal added  “Staying with the Germanic, Teutonic that suits the style we used very traditional, predominantly German hops. Earth driven ones like Spalt and Tettnager and a little bit of Hallerteau for clean bittering. Tettnager for a  bit of pepper, Spalt for that earthy character”

“Because the malts would have originally been floor malted we used Maris Otter which is an English floor malted malt, one of the only ones that’s still available. Its about building the body underneath it to hang everything else off it because it was originally a very malt driven beer and the herbs were used to try to balance that. That’s where my original love of it all came because I love Altbier”

Indian Ocean Brewing Co logo

The current Indian Ocean Brewing Co. logo looks set to change.

The Mumme release looks to be the start of change at Indian Ocean Brewing as Joel notes.

“It started as a GABS beer but we are looking at where we can have it around Perth. It fits into a lot of things at the moment. We are going through a re-branding exercise at the moment, regenerating the brand. We are trying to create a new future for the Indi brand and a marketing brief has been given to some agency’s”

The team are looking at the whole core range as well as the branding with a relaunch in the next few months to drive the brand beyond it’s home in Mindarie.

“We are definitely hanging on to the Lager. It’s a Dortmunder style and suits our core market at the brewery. The American Pale will stay.
The Kolsch is going to part of that somehow. We’re looking at single dry-hopping the beer to take it through a sequence of different hops over a period of time to shows the hops and for us to experiment”.

“The Wit beer will stay for the moment but it would be good to change that through the winter months with a Robust Porter. The Robust Porter has just been brewed with a subtle smoke malt being thrown at that. We’re hoping for it to be rich and full with that slight hop bitterness and roast character to carry the sweetness. Outside of that there is a whole range of ideas that we’ve been throwing around including sake based beers, extinct beers, a barrel aged  old ale and sours. The thing with this range is to keep us away from the really hop driven beers, the Black IPA’s and all that sort of stuff” said Mal.

Joel  also noted “We don’t want to do what everyone is doing. It’s no offense but everyone is doing a variation of an IPA. Double IPA’s, Imperial IPA’s, Belgian IPA’s and then it’s thrown in a barrel. I wouldn’t mind doing that but I think there’s also room to do something else”.

It’s clear the Indian Ocean Brewing Co. team have a vision for the future and one which will bring something unique to West Coast beer drinkers.

Indian Ocean Brewing Co.

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ALL FIRED UP: Gettin’ smokey with Rauchbier’s

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I will always remember my first Smoke Beer experience.

I stood in a bottle shop with a pint sized brown bottle & starred at a Gothic scripted label, devoid of any English.

“What’s this like?” I asked

The attendant, laughing to his mate replied

“Do you like Bacon & Eggs?”

Puzzled, I bought the beer & descended down a smokey rabbit hole.

That is where my Smoke Beer, or more correctly Rauchbier, fascination started.

 

For me these beers have aromas that drag out long forgotten memories & are also just plain tasty.

As the weather cools my thoughts always go to Rauchbier’s. Classics like Aecht Schlenkerla’s “Märzen” seem to bridge the beer gap  before Winter  moves towards darker beers.

 

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More than 250 years ago all beer was smoked. Historically forest wood was used for fires to dry green Brewers Malt that would be used in beer production. This imparted a smokey character to the beer.

During the 18th Century improvements in kilning techniques meant Malt could be produced without a smoke character. These improvements saw Smoke beers disappear nearly everywhere except in the Northern Bavaria, Germany.

It’s from this region that we get the name Rauchbier.

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The German Beer Institute provides this explanation of pronunciation:

“row-ch-beer” (pronounce “row” like “cow” and “ch” like “x” in “Mexico” when the country’s name is pronounced by a native speaker.)

I’m not sure if that clears that up entirely but you get the idea.
In Bramburg and its surrounds artisans have been making this style of beer for hundreds of years.

Traditionally, Smoked Malt can be used in a variety of beer styles. Usually a different style would be brewed for each season. For example, spring would see a “Fastenbier” Doppelbock.

Modern brewers are using Smoked Malts for an even wider range of styles. Although many use these Smoked Malts for Porters & Stouts there are examples of Smoked Pilsners that are excellent for food matching.

TASTING NOTES

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There are a number of Rauchbiers that are currently available. These are some tasting notes for some of them.

Keep in mind it’s the type of Malt that is used not the style that links all of these beers.

 

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AECHT SCHLERNKERLA – Märzen
5.1% ABV
Unmistakable campfire and bacon aromas hit first with some background green notes.
Light to Medium mouth feel with some Cola flavours. A mild dryness finishes this delicious beer.
You expect this to be a bigger than it is. The dark, ruby tinged brown colour is telling you this should be larger than the 5.1% ABV but it’s really very sessionable.
If you should find yourself in Germany you could easily enjoy a few pints of this.
Satisfying!

 

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NAIL – Rauchbier
6% ABV
Inviting smoke aromas. Maybe some Cola-like notes in the background.
The first sip yields more smoke, initially sweet malt that moves quickly to a mild dark chocolate bitterness.
Medium mouthfeel with a light carbonation is welcomed with this beer.
Over carbonation wouldn’t allow this or any other “Session” Smoke beer room for subtleties.
This is a welcome addition to Perth / Australian Craft beers & an ideal entry point to Rauchbiers for newcomers.

 

BEAVERTOWN - Smog Rocket

BEAVERTOWN – Smog Rocket
Smoked Porter
5.4% ABV
I love the detailed nostalgic label on this new world English Smoked Porter.
What’s inside the bottle starts with a sweet smokiness & chocolate aromas.
A persistent carbonation buoy’s more dark chocolate & a dry finish.
A very accessible Smoked Porter.

 

 

YEASTIE BOYS - xeRRex

YEASTIE BOYS – xeRRex
Imperial Peat Smoked Beer
10% ABV
BOOM! Blindfolded you would think this is a wee dram of Laphroaig Scotch!
This is a powerful aroma & the most challenging beer tasted here.
Tasting yields plenty of charred wood, an apple cider note & fruity honey.
Carbonation is low & there is little evidence of the 10% ABV.
The Malt base is sweeter than you first expect. It’s almost like a Smoked Strong Belgian Golden Ale at some points.
This is a one-off Imperial version of the 2011 one-off Rex Attitude.
Not something for everyday; this is an unusual, delicious beer that’s probably best shared so you can compare notes.

 

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EVIL TWIN BREWING – Ashtray Heart
Smoked Porter
8.9% ABV
Subtle smoke on the nose.
Full mouthfeel with dry dark chocolate flavours.
This is a rich, warming beer that could benefit from more Smoke character.

 

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EVIL TWIN – The Cowboy
Smoked Pilsner
5.5% ABV
The light smokiness in this beer makes it excellent for food matching.
In this case a Smoked Salmon Bagel.
Light, delicate smoke aromas preempt a dry, Pilsner.
A lovely, balanced hop bitterness shines making this almost like a dry-hopped Pale Ale.
The smokiness returns as a subtle flourish at the end of the palette.

 

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FERAL – Smoked Porter
4.9% ABV
Sweet smoke scents with subtle caramel & chocolate notes.
Toffee & molasses with a mild bitterness. Coffee flavours come through as it warms.
Thin for a Porter but approachable.

 

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BEATEN TRACK – Smokehouse
Smoked Ale
9% ABV
“Smokehouse” delivers a strong but not heavy Smoke aroma.
The mouthfeel is thin with a dry finish. I wish this had a larger body.
Smoke characters are dominant which masks some of the caramel background notes.
The 9% ABV is well hidden.

 

In summary, when I buy one of these again it will be the classic, AECHT SCHLERNKERLA – Märzen. It just ticks all the boxes.

 

That said I would love to try “xeRRex” again. Truly one of a kind, even in this usual Smoked beer space!

 

Drink Better. Be Good.

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