Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fort Collins Brewery Out of the Ashes Smoked Märzen review

There's nothing like the memories you get when you go camping and at night gathering around a smokey campfire. The smell of that campfire evokes memories of campouts past. And memories of beers past will be brought back with this new offering from The Fort Collins Brewery (FCB). They've recently brewed up a 4th edition from their Out of the Ashes series of beers called Fort Collins Brewery Out of the Ashes Smoked Märzen.

Out of the Ashes is part of a series of beers that FCB brews that uses malt that was smoked over wood-burning fires. The malt absorbs some of the smoke characteristic and brings that along in both aroma and flavor of the beer it is brewed in. FCB took a Märzen (Oktoberfest-like) recipe and substituted some of the regular malt for smoked malt. The result is a 5.6% ABV, 21 IBU and 9 SRM beer that is like few others. FCB has packaged this beer in 22oz bottles.

FCB describes this beer as having a "rich caramel and molasses sweetness with a touch of nuttiness. A classic German style brewed with American boldness." So how will a classic German recipe hold up to some smoke? Fermentedly Challenged gave this beer a full review.

Appearance: FCB's Smoked Märzen poured out a rusty copper color. The beer appeared to have good clarity with just the smallest traces of particulates in it. It had a nearly white head to it, just 1-2 fingers tall. There was just a slight lacing along the edge of the glass, however whatever lacing was there was quite slick and did not stick to the glass. After a few minutes, there was still a slight white ring of foam around the glass. There was a slight hiss when the cap came off and it appeared to be modestly carbonated.

Aroma: Close your eyes when you smell this beer for the first time. What will it remind you of? How about a smokey campfire with a bit of sweetness in the background. There was no mistaking this aroma for anything but a smoked beer. The smoke is really the dominant feature here. The smell reminded me slightly of smoked meat with a hint of sharp spice. With a regular Märzen, the malt takes most of the attention, but in this case the smoke plays the main role in the aroma. You have to search hard for the malt in the nose. If you serve this beer cold, it will tend to mask a bit of the smoke. So I would recommend to let this beer warm up a bit and the smoke character really comes out front and center.

Taste: While there is a hint of sweetness in the background, the smoke flavor tried to cover the sweeter malt. The taste of the smoke lingers a bit after the sip is done. The smoke flavor was not overpowering, but added a sense of mystery to this malty beer. I could pick up a touch of hop bitterness in the flavor as well. As the beer warmed a bit, the smoke flavor changes a bit and the malts start coming out a bit more.

One thing I liked about FCB's Smoked Märzen is that the malts were not dark and roasty, but rather lighter and sweeter. Expect to have the taste of smoke linger on your palate for a while. It certainly did with me. And because of that, I would highly recommend that you pair this beer with food. I'd suggest some BBQ meat with a sweet sauce or even a sharp cheese. Just by itself, the beer was fine, but with food it is much, much better.

Overall: It's not often that a smoked beer is available and if you are not accustomed to that style of beer then I would suggest having a small glass and sharing this beer with 1-2 other friends. You'll want to sip this beer slower than others to get the full smoked experience. Granted, this is probably not the type of beer that you'll want seconds of as it is meant to be savored as the occasional treat. Enjoy it for what it is - a beer that not many breweries make and one that will evoke aroma memories. Savor this one slowly and you'll enjoy it even more.

Disclosure: This bottle of beer was given to me directly by the brewery as a sample for review. I was not paid for this review and the contents of this review was strictly my own opinion.

Related articles:
- Grimm Brothers Sooty Brother Grätzer Ale review.
- Great Divide 2011 Smoked Baltic Porter review.
- Elevation Prostator Smoked Doppelbock review.

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