Smoke & Dagger | Jack's Abby Brewing

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Smoke & DaggerSmoke & Dagger

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

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

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Reviews: 179 | Ratings: 1,015
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 illpass78
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a near black with a big two-finger tan/off-white head. Some spotty lacing. Some notes of ruby when held to the light.

Aroma: Inviting, complex aromas. Wood chips, charcoal, vague smoked meat, and definitely ash and firewood. Also some sweet malt and a molasses-type note.

Taste: Malty, smokey, and surprisingly a little sweet. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Looks stout-like but definitely isn't one.

Overall: Pretty great smoked lager. It's great that this is available in six packs at a pretty reasonable price. It's a style you tend to see more of in bigger bottles only.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a tan head. Smells of smoky, dark fruit and roasted coffee. Tastes like smoked meat and roasted coffee. As it warms it becomes more chocolatey with smoky dark roasted coffee. It feels light-medium with moderate carbonation. Overall a nice, smoky brew. Good beer with bbq.

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Photo of BranfordBound
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Barnum Publick House in Bridgeport, pours a brown color with ruby highlights, clear, nice tannish head that leaves some lacing. Great aroma on this of big, sweet malts with a backbone of smoke. Great rauchbier flavor, sweet and caramel malt middle, nice smokiness and meat flavor near the end. The smoke isn't overpowering which is great, it's honestly the perfect amount. Body is solid, filling, maybe a bit too sticky with the sweetness. A great cold weather rauchbier.

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Photo of dd43
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Wasn't very familiar with this style when I tried it. I will have to have a few more tastings to acclimate to the smoked quality. It's interesting and worth trying, and I actually found myself enjoying it, but I'm not rushing to the store to pick up a six pack.

The flavors in this beer to me were more of the roasted and smoked grain variety. Chocolate was present but in the background. I suppose I would have appreciated this beer a little more if that bittersweet chocolate note had asserted itself a little more.

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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 smakawhat
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a tall Belcher Tulip like glass.

Big cascading light tan and creamy topped four to three finger head. Ballons up nicely, and clumps with big island retention. Good uniform pinhead sized bubbles in the head as well. Body color is very dark but just barely light enough to see through suprisingly, through a dark red walnut sheen.

Real nice aroma of milk chocolate. Moderate smoke tones a little bit of ash and wood like character but just slightly. One follows the other with the sweetness of chocolate coming first.

Tangy body and a bit unexpected. Very light lager body and almost crisp but gives plenty to the palate. Surprising and unexpected amounts of flavors going on. Moderate phenols, almost getting medicinal but stays on the edge of a mild sourness, then fills with a very good light cream sweetness. Chocolate rains down on the aftertaste, from milky sweet and a nice lingering bitter darkness that turns to bitter berried fruit in a way. The chocolate flavors on the finish are very impressive, going from milk to dark, and then a very dusty dark powdered cocoa aroma. Clean finish to go with it as well.

Real interesting smoke beer seems more closer to a Schwarzbier but with a bigger chocolate Porter like presence. Real delicious either way.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours dark cola brown with ruby highlights (SRM 20-22). A short, cascading, golden brown head builds to five inches of creamy ochre that occupies a Siegl stange glass for a long time. Thick patches of sea-foam lace remain.

Subtle, yet distinct, bacon accentuates the toasted malt.

Sweet with late bitterness in the finish. This one is malt forward with bacon flavors mixing well with caramel. Some oak before a subtle, lingering finish that guilds to become bitter.

The body is medium to full with a soft texture. Crisp and clean with light alcohol and modest carbonation.

This is a relaxing beer, great for a cool, mid-summer Friday night. I imagine it would be perfect for an autumn afternoon session while leaved rustle through the yard.

This definitely resembles a porter, albeit a smoked porter. The turbidity produced by a slight roll of the stange accentuates and focuses the flavor with each sip.

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Photo of sprat1960
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: Dark chestnut dark in color; transparent if held to light but due to dark color does not appear so in the glass. Pours with a rich light tan 2+ finger head that dies down leaving a thin, uneven layer of foam on the surface of the beer.

Smell: Smoke, malt, molasses, mild hops. Appealing aroma.

Taste: Malt, smoke, molasses, mild hops. Slight bitter finish. Delicious.

Feel: Lighter body; slightly watery feel. Nice mild carbonation. Slight dry finish.

Overall: Nice, smokey, flavorful black lager. I really enjoyed this and will definitely purchase again.

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Photo of khoff5
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nitro on tap. Great look and feel, I was worried about smoke in the name as I don't typically like smokey tastes, but this smoke was very subtle, all around complex and very likeable.

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Photo of Veejuh
4.21/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow I'm really enjoying this one!

Poured gently into a wine glass, one finger tan head recedes after a minute to leave a foamy ring around the edge of the glass, Look is black with just a bit of light coming through the bottom to reveal a brownish color.

Smell is awesome, spicy smoked beef and beechwood are entangled in coffee, very inviting!

Taste is similar to smell but supported by some sweetness and toasted barley makes itself known, wrapped up in a rather heavy but perfect amount of carbonation, great feel!

This is a very unique beer and I'd recommend it to anybody!

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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.56/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black in color with about a finger of foam. Nice nose of roasted malts, wood, and smokiness. Very complex taste follows the nose with notes of smoked meat, chocolate, coffee and caramel. Ridiculously rich taste but very easy to drink because it's so well balanced. I love this beer!

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Love the nose on this. Hints of smoke with what almost seems like pork? Maybe I've had too many here. But it reminds me very much of a meat smokehouse, and on great subtle ways and not overly obnoxious. (I took these notes before seeing the beer was a rauchbier.) Very easy drinker. Superb smoked beer.

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

A - Cola brown with cranberry highlights. Beautiful light tan head with great retention and lace.

S - Soft charcoal smoke with a touch of ham. Light caramel malt background.

T - Really nice flavor profile with great balance. Caramel and brown bread blend with a bitter and woody hop. The smoke character builds throughout the drink with an ashy finish.

M - Smooth with a medium-light frame.

O - An awesome and extremely sessionable smoke beer.

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

a: the color is a mixture of deep purple and mahogany. there are some dull ruby red notes as well. 2 finger tan marshmellow-like head. looks like you could rest a coin on it

s: it has a very pleasant campfire smell up front. campfire wood ashes, meaty bacon, thick toffee, brown sugar, coriander, a hint of dark chocolate, and roasted malts. its funny how something that smells like this can make your mouth water

t: sweet malts, figs, caramel upfront. there is a roasted malt and powdered chocolate note as well. the smoke comes as a subtle aftertaste - its smokey and reminiscent of how i imagine charred wood tastes. a bit watery in the flavor as well. ends clean

m: its light, with low carbonation

o: its ok. the mouthfeel is a little watery, and i might like to see the smoke featured a tad more, BUT it is quite delicious on its own. the subtlety of the smoke is nice, and balances out the sweetness well. worth a try

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with amber hues. finger of tan head

S: aroma of smoked malt, alderwood like aromas, light lager hints. Some nuts and earthy.

T: Lightly smoked wood and porter flavors come together nicely. This is an easy drinking complicated lager that I really can enjoy even in the spring. Walnuts and earth flavors blend in the back of the mouth.

M: High carbonation levels with a light airy lagery mouthfeel.

O: Having the more malt forward flavors of a lager and the lightness of a lager is very enjoyable for me after seeing mostly IPA's and or stouts. Its lightly flavored for a Rauchbier, but I think thats the point. Its not over the top, doesnt have too much of that bacon / saltiness, and is quite refreshing.

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Photo of mnrider
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a smidgen of red tint. One finger of light tan head. Thin lacing
and the retention is also on the thin and watery side.

S: Dark chocolate and smokey coffee aromas. Strong. Dark fruits come in.

T/M: Taste is not dissimilar to the smell. Dark chocolate, malts are smokey and
roasted. Very malty. Toffee and hints of sweet caramel. Sugary. Bitterness seems
to come from the coffee taste. Medium bodied. Creamy at first, bitter and dry at
the end.

O: Complex. Seems to be a blend of a few different German styles. Nice change
from all the IPA's abound.


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Photo of justintcoons
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip pint.

Deep chestnut brown with 1+ fingers of fluffy khaki head. Great retention with lively carbonation.

Semi-sweet chocolate, caramel, roasted barley, and hints of smoke.

Roasted barley, semi-sweet bakers chocolate, and caramel. Light roasty char with hints of smoked beechwood.

Medium bodied, smooth, and semi-silky with a slight roast bitterness.

Easily one of the best Schwarzbiers or whatever it is that I've had. Well balanced and incredibly smooth.

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Photo of CoffeePorter
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown in color, kind of resembles the color of root beer.
Smells like toasted bread, some caramel like sweetness and a bit nutty.
Tastes a bit burnt, some mild bitterness and hints of bread along with a nice sweet tasting finish.
Some mild carbonation, smooth mouthfeel, light like a lager.
Definitely the best lager i've had up to this point!

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Photo of PatrickCT
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

a: Dark brown with hints of Burgundy when he's up to the light. Light tan, bubbly, rocky, one finger and a half of head that dissipates into a whispy rim. Very light lacing.

s: Cocoa, iced coffee, molasses.

t: Coffee, cocoa, pumpernickel. Slightly bitter, coppery finish.

mf: Light carbonation. Slight crispness. Refreshing like a lager. But beefy like a stout. Slick finish.

o: I am surprise how much I like this beer. Especially considering how little I like beechwood. I will definitely keep more of an eye out for this style.

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Photo of Duhast500
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Dogfish pint glass.

The color is a dark brown and almost black with some maroon highlights. There is a finger of foamy tan head and some nice webbed lacing left on the glass.

The smell is malty with a dark toasted bread aroma. There is some nutty aroma here in the nose that is slightly hazelnut with just a slight touch of bourbon or oak or both. There is some hints of caramel and toffee that is not surprising and pretty welcoming.

The taste is more of that dark malty goodness. There is some burnt toast here in the flavor as was in the nose. There is a silky toffee flavor that has a milky flavor in the far back. There is a slight bitterness that is just a tiny bit hoppy here and there before making a quick presence at the end. There is some slight dark fruit here with a slight fig flavor that hangs behind some of the touches of bread dough that go out a bit.

The feel of this beer is light but boarders a medium bodied beer. There just is a smoothness that helps this beer be very drinkable it is easy to drink it pretty fast.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got in a BIF from ZebraCakez. 12 ounce bottle into lager glass, bottled on 11/24/2014. Pours crystal clear deep reddish brown color with a 1 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, toast, dark bread, herbal, and roast/smokey earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of roast/bready malt and smoke notes; with great strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, toast, dark bread, herbal, and roast/smokey earthiness. Fair amount of roast/herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, toast, dark bread, herbal, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance and robustness of roast/bready malt and smoke flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Very clean on lager flavors with no yeast ester notes present. Medium carbonation and light-medium bodied; with a very smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly bready/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent smoked schwarzbier style. All around great balance and robustness of roast/bready malt and smoke flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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

It shouldn't be surprising that Smoke & Dagger look blackened - not entirely black, mind you, because colour can readily be made out against the light and along the trim - but its charred complexion certainly mirrors the barbecue notes. Its head, anyway, looks like a ring of smoke itself.

Let us not forget the other malts - along with the wisp of smoke, this aroma also features the more conventional notes of roasted grain and all the chocolatey, coffee-ish nuances that often accompany it. This level of balance ensures the beer is not too intimidating for initiates; notions of campfire smoke or burnt meat would be gross exaggerations.

I'm not sure how proud of this I should be, but I've tried chocolate covered bacon on a couple occasions. It is a curiously irresistible (and kind of gross and shameful) combination because it stimulates all parts of the palate: bittersweet, salty, roasty. Smoke & Dagger does the just the same; it tastes something like cocoa- or coffee cured-pork.

Neither sweet nor smoke conquers the other; they go back and forth like evenly matched tennis pros, neither becoming too dominant in the mix. I'm not sure whether the smattering of caramel was intended or not, but it's a nice way to end that roller coaster of chocolate, coffee, and cured meat. There's no knot in this rope - just smooth all the way along.

Smoke & Dagger should prove once and for all that smoked beers can be perfectly palatable and easily enjoyed by all. It is a soft, well-rounded offering that aught to have barbecue lovers, especially, trampling over one another to buy by the case full. This self-proclaimed Schwarzbier/Rauchbier hybrid may not be German-born, but it's Bundesliga caliber talent for sure.

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Smoke & Dagger from Jack's Abby Brewing
4.01 out of 5 based on 1,015 ratings.
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