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Smoke & Dagger - Jack's Abby Brewing

Not Rated.
Smoke & DaggerSmoke & Dagger

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

155 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 155
Hads: 931
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 25.44%
Wants: 50
Gots: 131 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Jack's Abby Brewing
Massachusetts, United States | website

Style | ABV
Rauchbier | 5.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mduncan on 07-29-2011

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
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 155 | Hads: 931
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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Photo of BostonHops
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a deep amber; sits a an opaque, borderline black tone while yielding a frothy 1" khaki colored head; middling retention and a little lacing evident in small patches. nose offers notes of chocolate, with some roasted malt and a little smoke. nice.

taste delivers the chocolate, roastiness, and smoke along with secondary notes of vanilla, caramel, and even a little oak. flavors work well together; distinct yet cohesive. there's a subdued hoppy presence notable in the finish... smooth, creamy mouthfeel - medium bodied - with average carbonation.

overall an excellent brew, sort of a beer Frankenstein, blending elements from a few styles (rauchbier, schwarzbier, and smoked porter); the finished product is a smooth, flavorful beer. proves you don't need an imperial to deliver and onslaught of character. while i wouldn't count any of the aforementioned styles among my personal favorites, smoke and dagger does work for me, and though it won't earn a spot in my regular rotation i will definitely be back for more in the future.

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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 nootch23
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - pours black with a about a fingers worth of a khaki white head. As the head recedes to the side of the glass makes a pretty presentable looking beer as expected with this style.

S - very roasty smell right up front with underlying traces of chocolate. Big maltiness to the smell.

T - for me this is all coffee and malt. No signs of sweetness to this beer, not even a little bit as expected. Has a semi-dry finish to it and a little bitterness that I attribute to the coffee aspect of this beer. Nice roastiness to it.

M - semi-dry finish to it. Leaves my mouth with the roastiness that was prevelant in the taste. Slight bitterness to it as well.

O - It's impressive that Jack's Abby only makes lagers and find ways of making lagers taste absolutely nothing like a lager. Smoke & Dagger is no different and tastes like a different style of beer. It's a pretty solid and a favorite of mine by them when the weather puts me in the mood for a black lager. Will definitely purchase this again.

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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 peensteen
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle shared by Liam

Deep brown head, decent ring of whiteish head, good amount of lace here too. Smell is of roasted malts, chocolate and smoke, a little bit of liquorice, a mild but noteable hop presence as well here, bit of a dark bread note as well. Taste is of dark malts and chocolate, well roasted malts, lightly bitter, a bit of anise as well, roast-chocolate finish and aftertaste. Lightly carbonated with a medium-full body, a bit of an oily feel as well. Awesome stuff here, great flavours and really drinkable, worthy of revisits for sure.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Served in a bottle at The Whiskey Priest in Boston, MA

A: Pours a clear dark brown in color with some moderate amounts of visible carbonation and some ruby red highlights. The beer has a finger tall sudsy light tan head that quickly redues to a medium patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of smoked malts (you can definitely pick out the fact that it was smoked with beechwood) with lighter notes of chocolate malts and coffee. Very light notes of earthy hops.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of chocolate malts and smoked malts, with just the most subtle hints of a BBQ pit. There is a light hint of nuttiness and some light caramel sweetness as well. Next come the flavors of roasted coffee and the touch of dark chocolate. There are light amounts of earthy hops in the finish which give the beer a light amount of bitterness which fades pretty quickly.

M: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of gentle carbonation. Smooth with a light amount of dryness in the finish.

O: I enjoyed this beer - the smoke flavors are quite pleasant and really add to the beer without being overwhelming or having too much of an iodine flavor. The beer was easy to drink and I had no problem putting down a 22 oz bottle on my own - in fact, I wish there was a little more of it to drink. Would pair very nicely with meats.

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Photo of Mikecap
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark brown from a 500 ml bottle into a tulip with two fingers of beige head that remains for a bit.

Smell: Smoke, toasted malt and even a bit of chocolate come out in the nose. An interesting complex aroma that begs me to taste.

Taste: Less smoke than I'd expect but I definitely get the chocolate and the sweet malted backbone behind this. A bit of roastiness and coffee flavor come through on the back of the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with very little bitterness and smooth for this style of beer. Very easy drinking brew.

Overall: I liked this more than I expected and would definitely have it again. A nice dark lager that would be perfect with barbecue.

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Photo of liamt07
4.41/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Boston Wine Exchange, 500ml into a tulip. Bottled March 7, 2013.

Dark brown, tan head. Light roast and chocolate on the nose, along with some lightly bready and doughy notes. Taste is chocolatey, roasty, lightly sweet, smoke is peripheral. Lager yeast qualities come through. Medium light body, perfectly medium light carbonation. More of a schwarzbier, and perhaps the best I've ever had.

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Photo of sommersb
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 04-22-2013
Freshness: Bottled 02-18-2013
Packaging: 500ml brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Willi Becher
Purchased: Received in a trade

Thanks to DrewShal9 for this trade!

Appearance is a clear and dark brown beer, nearly black, with red edges on the glass when held to light. The huge off-white head is frothy and has a great deal of retention, plus an excellent ring of lace.

Smells have a big dose of toasted grains, as well as smoked malts. The campfire smokiness is not as heavy as most rauchbiers - this one is more tame in the smoke, with some sweetness in the aroma. Also has some wood and vanilla notes.

Taste starts with smoked malts; meaty like most smoked beers. Also has earthy/woody characteristics, and bittersweet chocolate.

The mouthfeel is creamy with a moderate carbonation. The finish is dry and tastes of coffee-like bitterness and some unpleasant chalky textures.

Overall a curious melding of several styles; schwarzbier, porter and rauchbier. I think they all worked together very well, but this is kind of one-time beer that I wouldn't probably seek out again.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Consumed 4/16/13

Appearance: Dark, dark brown with some clarity around the edges - creamy, light tan head - keeps a solid cap and leaves some nice streaks and spots of lacing

Smell: Moderately smoky, with a nice malt base - nicely malty, with a great level of chocolate malts and caramel - some nice chocolate and roasty coffee - some hints of hops in the background

Taste: Nicely balanced with chocolate and smoke - smoky wood, roasty coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa, nuts, caramelized malts, and caramel - smoky and roasty without going overboard, very nice - some grassy hops - medium level of bitterness - clean, especially considering the smoke

Mouthfeel: Medium body, remarkably smooth, nicely carbonated, oddly clean finish

Overall: You can really taste the dagger!

I split a bottle of this with Goblinmunkey7 roughly a year ago, and this bottle is even better than I remember. There are some nice smoke and chocolate notes here, in an impressive amount of balance. Another winner from Jack's Abby.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Who says that traditional lager makers lack imagination or are passe in taste. Jack's Abby puts on a full-out display of charisma and quality in this smoky dark ale that borrows influences from German Black Beers, Rauchbiers, Dunkels and Baltic Porters for a refined taste that's highly complex for its drinkability.

The stealth-like "Smoke & Dagger" pours with the mystery-shrouded dark brown hue that's only pierced with crystal clear highlights of mahogany and chestnut. Ats it quietly releases a light khaki foam, the beer captures the eye with a frothy whipped topping that retains firmly and laces the glass with intermittent and artistic patterns.

A ton of malt and phenol complexes converge in aromas for blend that keeps speaking, "smoky chocolate". With the air of lightly scorched barley, the scent hinges on toffee, caramel and brown sugar. Grounded notes of toast, coffee, heavy whipping cream form the underpinnings of a classic dark lager.

It's smooth taste relaxes the taste buds with medium malt sweetness of the same caramel and toffee that the nose promises. More earthy and rustic notes of coffee, woodish hops, and a light alcohol & peppercorn spice ushers in a balancing bitterness to close. All this flavor is wrapped in a cocoon of heavy whipping cream and beechwood campfire.

It's creamy. It's dry, It slices; it dices- it Juliennes! The beer is a Swiss Army knife in that it starts creamy and rich, but turns roasty and powdery midway through before diving into a drinkable sensibility to close. Creamy like milkshake and bitter like coffee- the beer spans the gamut of mouthfeel descriptor en route to a grainy-sweet alcohol warmth to finish.

With a touch of confusion, I can see why the beer doesn't settle on a set style when a blend of well-tested recipes will obviously work better. Jack's Abby proves that there's a ton of imagination that if not bound by the "rules" of beer making.

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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 PicoPapa
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9oz bottle. Pours a dark cola color with very little head. Some lacing. The aroma is rich with some smoke, roasted malts, and earth. The taste is a nice mix of smoke, roasted malts with some earth and hints of chocolate . Has somewhat of a cola taste at the end. Nice roasty/smokey flavor. Heavy mouthfeel. This beer certainly does taste like a mix of a Schwarzbier and a Smoked Porter. Nicely done. Overall, a great autumn beer but it drinks just fine year round.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a slightly hazy dark mahogany color with 2 fingers of tan head

S: Roasted and smoked malts, some dark fruits, and a hint of earthy hops and coffee

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with a very light smoke and roasted malts, followed by dark fruits, earthy hops, and a hint of coffee and chocolate

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: A nice, easy-going smoked schwarzbier with a restrained smokiness that goes well with the roasted malts and dark fruits. At under 6%, this is an easy-to-drink dark beer

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Photo of tkelley
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A - really dark but not quite black, red hues. Pale, lingering head with moderate lacing.

N - woody and smoky. Chocolate roast too.

T - close to the smell. Nice and chocolatey roasted character with obvious smoke features. An appropriate level of smoke.

M - goes down easy. Medium to low carbonation. Sits easily in the mouth with being an agitator.

O - really well done. Love the combo of smoke and chocolate. Would be a great camping beer.


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Photo of AnitaBrewski
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love everything about this beer. I love that Jack's Abby makes such wonderfully unique lagers, and that it's a neighborhood brewery for those of us in the Boston area. The 1/2 liter bottle and label are beautiful, and the color and aroma are great. What's exceptional for me was the mouthfeel, so very smooth and silky, and the taste is great. Drinking this beer was a treat!

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Photo of jdhilt
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a four-finger, khaki head that fades slowly leaving some lace. Black color, hints of mahogany highlights. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is light smoke and chocolate and flavor is smooth baked chocolate with hints of smoke. $3.50 for a 500ml bottle, from Giles Fine Wine Arlington, MA.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown and sporting a friendly, pale tan head. Steady retention leaves a few worm trails of foam. Neat German influenced (I'm assuming) .5 liter bottle.

Smells like woody cocoa nibs and mild smoke. Tastes like it smells: gentle smoke wraps around smooth roast malt. A very gentle beer. The smoke is present but not overpowering and the roast malt is dark and mildly chocolatey but never acidic or charred.

I just found out that there's a peanut butter of this beer which I now must have.

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Photo of oline73
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a dark brown color with some red light coming through at the edges. There is a half finger of off white head that fades rather quickly.

Smell: Not as roasty as I would have expected, but the roast compliments everything else nicely. I'm getting bready malt sweetness along with some dark fruit. Just a bit nutty with mild smoke.

Taste: Not quite as nice as the smell, but still quite good. Some bready malt with dark chocolate and smokey notes. I'm getting mild caramel and dark fruit. The finish is slightly bitter with a nice smoke to it.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with very full carbonation and a slightly dry finish.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer. I was super easy to drink and quite interesting. I would definitely have more in the future.

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Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

4 oz pour at Jack’s Abby in a tasting glass at cellar temperature.

L – Brown color with a 2-finger frothy tan head. Great retention and really nice lacing. Clear with a good amount of bubbles as far as I can see.

S – Chocolate malt and a good amount of smokiness as well.

T – Starts off sweet with chocolate and caramel malt and gains spicy smokiness that is almost reminiscent of rye. As the spice mellows at the finish, smooth and sweet cocoa becomes apparent.

F – Light-to-medium-bodied with great prickling carbonation, a mouth-coating but crisp feel, and a sweet finish. Sweet chocolaty malt lingers nicely.

O – This is a great smoked beer. It smells nice and tastes great with much more complexity than expected from the nose. This is really tasty and very drinkable, especially for a smoky beer like this.

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Photo of LeRose
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First, I was happy to discover that this beer is not over the top with aggressive smoke or heavy with the roasted malts. Sometimes less is more.

Poured a deep brown with two fingers of rich creamy tan head that thinned quickly, but plenty of foam clung to the glass. Aroma was a whiff of smoke, maybe a little malt underneath. Not much there, really. But the flavor really popped in a nice little surprise package. Definite smokiness, definite roasted malts, some chocolate tones in the dark sweet area, nothing dominates and very well balanced. A little bitter on the finish, but carbonated well enough to brighten things up and make it lively. Crisp and clean. A very balanced, enjoyable brew.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jack's Abby Smoke & Dagger
.5L bottle, no date

Not really black, more of a dark mahogany with reddish highlights. Modest head dissipates quickly, average lacing. (3.5)

Aroma is clean, though very lagery. Some earthy notes and subtle hops, but that's it really. (3)

Rich chocolate malts and a moderate level of smoke on the palate. Not nearly as smoky as a Schlenkerla, however. Bready, light-roast coffee. Not sweet at all, with a dry, crisp finish. Smooth bitterness complements the malt character without overwhelming the subtleties. Carbonation is medium-low, with a soft, lilting mouthfeel. A very authentic and elegant lager. (4.5, 4.5)

This is one of the best American-made lagers I've had. I love the dryness combined with the malt complexities, all in a highly drinkable package. The other Jack's Abby brews I've had have been somewhat underwhelming, but Smoke & Dagger is excellent. (4.5)

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Photo of homebrew311
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade with cbeer88- thanks man! Appearance is a deep auburn with crimson highlight, layer of tan head with plenty of sticky lacing. The nose is like a campfire, heavily smoked with layers of hickory, ash, and roasted malts. The taste meets the palate with some caramel malt character which brings a little sweetness before the smoke cuts through. Roasted malts and smoke take turns as it finishes with heavy woody smoke character. This is a very flavorful and smokey rauchbier, lots of depth in the flavor. The mouthfeel is somewhat thin with moderate to high carbonation. Overall, a winner, especially if smoked beers are your thing.

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Photo of BigCheese
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased right at the brewery.

A: Pours a dark ruby brown, near black. Medium sized tan head. Some decent lacing.

S: Toasted and roasted malts, got an english nutty bready smell.

T: Caramel, Molasses, brown bread. Roasted malts. Slightly smoky/peaty and a tad salty ham flavor. Some chocolate notes too. Its got a malt bitterness to it in a robust porter kinda way. Espresso notes/dark coco mixed with smoke.

M: High carbonation, lighter mouthfeel, still got a decent creamyness to it. Definitely sessionable and has that refreshing lager character.

O: Havent had many black lagers or rauchbiers, but I like this one. Theres a smoky aspect but its not overpowering. A solid session brew that I think would be easy to like.

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Smoke & Dagger from Jack's Abby Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 155 ratings.