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Smoke & Dagger | Jack's Abby Brewing

very good
164 Reviews
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Smoke & DaggerSmoke & Dagger

Brewed by:
Jack's Abby Brewing
Massachusetts, United States | website

Style: Rauchbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Cloaked in mystery, this dark black beer skirts the line between a schwarzbier and smoked porter. The use of a small percentage of traditional Beechwood smoked malt adds complexity and balances the liberal use of chocolate malt. Notes of roasted grains, beechwood smoke,and coffee accompany a full bodied-and sweet chocolately malt character. Smoke & Dagger uses locally grown unmalted barley from MA.

25 IBU

Added by mduncan on 07-29-2011

User Reviews
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Reviews: 164 | Ratings: 966
Photo of EGM1105
1.1/5  rDev -72.6%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I don't know why people thought it was a good idea to mix chocolate flavor with beer... Picked up a 6 pack yesterday in the mood to try something new. I didn't read the bottle, only the name. Had I known it was a chocolate beer I would've never bought it. There are 2 left. This will be the 2nd beer I ever pour down the drain. The first one was Chocolate Bock. Ugh. If beer and chocolate sounds like a good mix to you then by all means try it. It's not for me. I'd rather have a Jack's Abby Leisure Time Lager. Now that is a damn good beer.

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Photo of argock
2.45/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served on-tap in a 13oz tulip at Sunset Bar and Grill (Boston, MA). Reviewed from notes.

A: Dark brown to black with short cap of dark beige head with a thin line of lacing.

S: Smells like burned dirt

T: Tastes like burned dirt and rubber tires. Herbal hops are too earthy and there is some problem with the blending of the dark malts, the smoked malts, and the hops as this beer just tastes like dirt, ash, and rubber.

M: Medium-full body with low carbonation makes this hard to drink beer even tougher to drink.

O: Maybe not my cup of tea, definitely made me wish I had a sample before ordering this. Live and learn...

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Photo of chugalug06
2.56/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Four-finger foamy head pours milk chocolate in color. Brew is thin black. nice lacing too.

Tons of heavy campfire smoke. Raisin. Milk Chocolate. Char. Leather.

Very bitter. Licorice. Good carbonation. Leathery smoke.

Not smooth or refreshing. I figured it'd be great for a hot summer day, but it didn't quite hit the spot. Good, but not memorable.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

My second Jack's Abby beer. Acquired from ICCULIS in a trade; thanks again, buddy! Per the label description, it's somewhere between a schwarzbier and a smoked porter. I'm reviewing it as a schwarzbier (not a rauchbier as currently classified on the site) because I trust the brewer over some guy who clicked a style. 5.8% ABV confirmed. 25 IBUs. 14.5 plato. 500ml brown glass bottle with standard silver unbranded pressure cap served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery's reputation (though I was underwhelmed by their biere de garde).

Served cold, straight from the fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger light khaki colour head. Slight cream. Nice thickness. Above average (~3 minute) retention. No lacing as the head recedes. Body colour is an extremely dark brown; not quite a black but seemingly so if you don't look carefully. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Opaque (nontransparent and nontranslucent). Par for the style. Not unique or special.

Sm: Light oak catches my attention, actually. A light hint of vanilla. Has my broken nose steered me wrong? Dark malts. Chocolate malt. Very very light smoked malts - not the pork/meat or heavy smoke you get from most smoked beers, but rather a subtle backgrounded smokiness. It's extremely restrained and not at all dominant. This is definitely not a rauchbier as is currently classified. No bacon notes. Light indistinct coffee. Mild woodiness. Lacks sufficient roast. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. Interesting for a schwarzbier. I can see where one could claim it's a borderline smoked porter. A mild strength aroma. I'm looking forward to trying it.

T: Smokiness is present throughout, but lurks as an undertone rather than surfacing as an isolated note. It lends the beer a guided cohesive feel. Dark malts and chocolate malt comprise the foundation, which is unobtrusive and somewhat generic. Any hopping is minimal; I don't notice any evocative character in terms of hops. Coffee is rather restrained; it's barely present. Tends towards the slightly sweeter side of the sweet/bitter balance, but the smokiness keeps it in check. No yeast character or alcohol comes through. I do like it, but while well balanced, it doesn't provide any unique or special features. It may be one of the better scharzbiers/black lagers I've had, but that isn't saying much in my personal case. Well put together, but I suppose an ideal beer in the style would bring far more complexity and subtlety to the table. I nitpick only because I respect the quality that's there.

Mf: Nice thickness. Interesting coarseness/smoothness interplay; it varies throughout but hits either end at just the right points in my opinion. Slight overcarbonation. Decent presence on the palate. Lackluster depth of flavour. Not very soft at all. Unrefreshing.

Dr: A solid schwarzbier from Jack's Abby, but there's definite room for improvement. I think in terms of adherence to style this is a far better effort than their biere de garde. Of course, style be damned here. It's a schwarzbier-come-smoked porter and so much the better; I think it's better for its experimentation and I like what it's trying to do. Hides its ABV pretty well. Drinkable for a schwarzbier. I think the smoked character is very well implemented; this is the only subtlety I detect in the beer. Jack's Abby still has yet to truly wow me, but this is only my second beer of theirs. A solid sporting effort that gives me renewed interest in trying more of their beers. Still, it leaves much to be desired.

High C+

12/17/15: 2nd impression from a bottle purchased in Denver, CO during GABF:

High C+

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Photo of crisis1290
3.34/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Jack's Abby Brewing Smoke and Dagger was different for sure ! Jet black on the pour. Not a lot of carbonation or head. This beer has many layered flavors. Not a big fan of smoke beers but it was worth the try . But..I am a huge fan of this brewery. Nice amount of carbonation. the nose follows the taste for sure !Very well balanced .

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.39/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Another amazing extra from bramsdell (cheers buddy!) enjoyed from a beer hunter taster glass.

a - brew pours a pewter black with ruby brown highlights. thin head is gone quick leaving nary a skin of bubbles on the surface.

s - smell is really nice chocolate with some burnt firewood char. kind of like a smokey milk stout.

t - taste is big roasted char...kind of like a watery porter.

m - soft porter like char...fizzy.

o - overall a decent smoke beer, but fairly watered down.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep brown, almost black. A little transparent. Medium collar.

Smell - Smokey and a little meaty. Coffee. Deep caramel and toffee.

Taste - Smokey. Coffee roasted malt. Some sweetness. A bit of maltiness. Caramel.

Mouthfeel - Medium low carbonation. Some bitterness.

Overall - Tasty, but after the Fire in the Ham, not quite as good.

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Photo of titvs
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Review based on the BJCP2008 guidelines (style 22B). AROMA: background sweet and roasted malts from the base beer with coffe and chocolate notes. faint smoke notes with balance towards the base beer. some DMS is present. APPEARANCE: dark with a ruby color tint. average tanned head with good retention. TASTE: roasted coffe-like notes with a touch of pleasant and balanced smokiness. some sweet chocolate notes also present. low bitterness with a dry finish. PALATE: medium-low with medium-low carbonation. OVERALL: a good marriage between a dark lager and smoked malts, that would benefit with a bit more smokiness.

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Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is smokey, meaty. Taste is very smokey up front, firewood, meats, some malts. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a different and pretty good beer.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark cola brown with a thin, tan blanket.

Smokey nose, but not an ash tray, more like a fireplace, which at times can be too much for me, other times not.

Flavors of frothy bacon with nutty caramel and faint chocolate.

Not the most complex or surprising brew given the name and expectation, but I've had worse smoked beers that are downright undrinkable. While not offensive, I'm not on the bacon and chocolate bandwagon, and this didn't stand out as a repeater for me.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was graciously given a growler from a friend who made a visit to the brewery last weekend. He knew my affinity for dark beers. Poured into a tall beer glass. Super dark black body. Great looking white head forms with a vigorous pour, but that soon fades. The body looks a bit undercarbonated once the beer has sat for a bit. The smell is a wonderful aroma of campfire smoke. The taste is great too. Love the earthy, peaty aroma. But I get less smoke flavor as I drink, and more of a burnt-end brisket taste. While BBQ is not a bad thing, it's more charcoal flavor than smoke. Mouthfeel was a bit thin, but that's what I expected from a smoked lager. Overall it's a decent beer, and I liked it better than the Red Lager or the IPL. This one just seemed more unique. A nice intro the brewery and I wish them well.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz bottle. No bottle dating information. Poured into Deschutes tulip

A: Pours a very deep, reddish brown color. It's nearly opaque. I got about a finger of light tan head. It fades quite quickly. Leaves some lacing bits. On a second pour, I get tons of head and it had a cool two-tone light tan/dark tan split head. Very neat.

S: I certainly a smoked porter nose in this guy. Really deep roasted malt character and then underneath you pull some chocolate, both milk and dark.

T: I see exactly how they were try mesh these two style: schwarzbier and smoked porter. You get the deep roasted grains and smoky notes of a porter, and the smoothness of the schwarzbier. You don't get the bitterness that you might get from a porter. Its very smooth. I am pulling a good amount of chocolate from the drink and not much else. Maybe some mild coffee hints after I drink a while.

M: Medium bodied.

O: B

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Photo of FosterJM
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1252nd Review on BA
Bottle to English Pint

Thanks to Twstandley for this one

App- A dark cola brown with a medium clarity to it. A bit thicker than I was thinking/expecting. A huge khaki three finger head opened and then left fairly quick. Good amount of cling to it.

Smell- A small and subdued aromatic note to this one. Had a bit of Roast with a slight bit of liquid smoke. As it warmed it was chocolate, a bit ashy with some malty thickness behind it.

Taste- At 1st I didn't like it. I just dont like smoke beers but I wanted to give it a go. Maybe this will be the one. As it warmed it because more more enjoyable and on the level of Stone Smoked Porter with a great layered flavor of malts, chocolate and smoke. Wasnt the best but close.

Mouth- A lighter-medium body with a fairly medium carbonation. A bit of roasty and creamy smoky chocolate.

Drink- Overall it was pretty good, wasnt the best nor the worst. Great layered flavors but doesnt punch you in the face.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle served in a Reissdorf stange. Pours the color and clarity of cola with a loose, 2.5 inch, khaki-colored head that sizzles and pops as it slowly fizzes down to an 1/8th inch cap. Thick, textured swaths of lacing are revealed during the tasting. Nose expresses hints of chocolate and roast with the merest suggestion of smoke towards the back end. Taste follows nose; however, it all comes off a bit watery and closer to a Schwartzbier than a Rauchbier in my opinion. Mouthfeel is light in body and starts off with an almost silky feel at the tip of the tongue, but quickly yields to a more watery consistency. Carbonation is assertive without being prickly or gassy. Overall, this beer is lacking in the smokiness I've come to associate with the style, and I'm actually okay with that - I didn't realize this was a Rauchbier when I purchased it. That said, a decent brew, but definitely closer to a Schwartzbier than a Rauchbier and there are better examples of Schwartzbiers out there if that is what you are looking for.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.69/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: deep brown with garnet accents; 1 finger tan head that receded quickly to a thin collar; nice lacing;

S: deeply roasted grains, but quickly overtaken by smoke;

T: an initial hit of sweetness followed by coffee and smoke; the finish is lightly bitter and long with the smoke sticking around;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation;

O: the smoke is nicely done, not overwhelming; I would have like a little more hop flavor, but it's still really nice;

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml undated bottle.

Pours nearly opaque dark brown with a tan head of an inch-plus. A partial skim coat and streaky lacing for the duration.

Light smoke, caramel, chocolate, and mild char in the nose. A hint of nougat follows.

Medium bodied with an almost creamy mouthfeel.

Roasted malts, light chocolate, and smokey char start the palate. Hints of coffee and vanilla step forward.

Finishes with quickly fading smoke and roast.

A balanced beer with very light smoke and a bit thin for my tastes. I would just like more of all aspects of this beer.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

fun beer from jacks abby, sort of a cross between a schwarz and a rauchbier, being a darker smoked lager type. medium brown color to this with great carbonation, a one inch off white head, and picture perfect ring lacing as it drinks. the nose is not as smoked as I anticipated, more spiced than smoked really, with some chocolate malt and a range of other well toasted grains. lager yeast abounds. the flavor is still only lightly smoked, subtle, especially in a rauchbier context. darker malt gives some earthy character without a ton of sweetness, and there is an astonishing lack of body for the color, a really nice feature lending to drinkability. well carbonated and the finish is light smoke and wintery spice, a nice combination. not much hops though, but they aren't really missed. I like that complexity of this, especially for a lager. jacks abby has really redefined what it means to be a lager, and beers like this are a perfect example of their crusade against convention.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a clear dark brown appearing black in the glass with a slightly tanned head on top. The head is fairly quick to fizzle away, not leaving much lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: The beechwood smoked malts are the first thing I notice. Chocolate malts bring up the rear adding a touch of dark fruit to the aroma as well. Touch of nuttiness.

T: Not as powerful of a flavor as i expected based on the aroma. Instead it is a finely tuned balanced blend. Smoked malts are much lighter giving way to the sweet chocolatier notes. Lager qualities add some bready and cracker depth.

M: Light body with a mild carbonation. Perhaps a tad thin or watery.

Overall this is a tasty brew with smoke quality that pairs nicely with the roasted malts.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour is a dark amber color with an off-white head. Strong smoke aroma to this, but still plenty of malt sweetness. Good caramel, toffee, and toasted bread aromas. A light woodiness to it. The flavor is sweet and malty with a nice smokiness. Light wood and salt notes, plenty of toast and caramel malts. A light chocolate flavor to it as well.

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Photo of nataku00
3.81/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a dark cola brown, bordering on black, with a finger and a half of tan loose foam head. Head dissipates after a few minutes to a slick of bubbles and a collar of foam, leaving some light lacing. Decent carbonation visible at the edges of the glass.

Nose is smoked malt, roasted malt, coffee.

Taking a sip, typical rauchbier flavors of smoked and roasted malt. A touch of coffee and chocolate as well. Finish is all smoke.

Light body with some decent soft carbonation. Easier to drink rauchbier, with the smoke being subtle but flavorful and not in your face.

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Photo of breadwinner
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not a bad little lager, though I was hoping for a little bit more a smoky punch (a la Schlenkerla). This one is lager first, smoked beer second, to be sure. I definitely get a little chocolate/coffee character, but the feel is a touch watery, and that lessens the impact of those notes, or at least makes them less appealing. Love the idea here, and it's not poorly done, but I think it could be fine tuned a bit more.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 1.5" cappucino head with long life. The body pours dark but clear but in masstone it's a deep umber brown verging on coffee. The smell is very mild and mainly roasted malt. Taste is much weaker than I was expecting but has the crispness of a lager, a touch of smoke, and a little roasted malt. And easy drinking enjoyable and not boring lager.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle opened on 5.25.13
Dated 03.07.13

A - Pours a brown with a dark tan soapy head with good retention.

S - Smoke, fishy, malty, toasted malts.

T - Smokey and roasted malts, very similar to the nose.

D - Good carbonation with a light body.

O - Smoke and lots of lager yeast.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pour is dark black with a tan head and some larger bubbles. Nose is light malt and chocolate notes with a light grain and herbal hop. Taste is a good, full flavored dark chocolate and light roast to it. Stout like favors with a lighter body and grainy hoppy finish. Dry clean finish and well carbonated.

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Photo of Durge
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A dark, murky brown colored brew with a modest but stubborn light tan colored cover and decent lacing, this brew served chilled in a pint glass is looking pretty inviting. The aroma brings a deep toasted brown bread and chocolate malt medley with a bit of a juniper bite over the top. Very appealing. The flavor comes on with a fairly sharp grassy hop tang which is immediately followed by a charcoal malt idea. This is definitely a bit brighter and more bitter than I anticipated with subtle smokey qualities. It's a tad thin in feel but offers a brisk carbonation in what otherwise is a medium-light bodied beer. There's a vague chalkiness but nothing negative. This generally strikes me as a grassy, vegetable sort of brew with a good smokey-malt theme that makes for a decent overall result. A bit too grassy for my tastes, but not bad at all.

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Smoke & Dagger from Jack's Abby Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 164 ratings.