Smoke & Dagger | Jack's Abby Brewing

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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

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Reviews: 168 | Ratings: 982
Photo of JMScowcroft
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jack's Abby Brewing - Smoke & Dagger, poured into a Lawson's tulip.

Look - Pours a thinner black and settles with a small foamy head that dissipates with little to no retention. Some lacing.

Smell - Chocolate malts and smoked malts. Touch of coffee.

Taste - Smoky with a nice rich backbone. So damn tasty.

Mouthfeel - Moderately carbonated with a full-medium body. Great drinkability. Not boozy in the least.

Overall - Best smoked lager I have had so far (I typically don't like them). This beats out their Lawson's collab for sure, that one had a little cloying to it. I could drink several of these brews.

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Photo of MarkJBurch
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark ruby brown, black in the glass. Sticky, spotty, cream colored lacing.

Roast, peat, chocolate and faint coffee make for a well composed nose.

Toast, smoke and chocolate. Faint dark fruit, tame and well balanced with a clean finish. Improves as it warms.

Light to medium bodied, carbonation is spot on. Again, a very clean aftertaste, slightly dry.

I love how easy this is to drink. I find most smoked beers difficult to drink in excess, cumbersome to the pallet, if you will. I'll be heading to the fridge for another immediately following this review, if that tells you anything.

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

Bottle purchased and drank at Acme Bar and Pizza in Rochester, NY.

Tastes more like a lightly smoky schwarzbier than a full on rauchbier, but I don't mind, because I generally don't like incredibly smoky beers.

Pours out a dark, dark brown, almost black, with a 2 inch head, and a little bit of lacing down the glass.

Smells like chocolate, mild smoke, and some mild roasted malts.

The taste is similar. Only lightly smoky, it's a good compliment to the chocolate and roasted malt flavor. No flavor is particularly brow-beating, which is nice, making this practically sessionable.

Light to medium bodied, low carbonation, creamy smooth mouthfeel.

Another good offering from the boys in Framingham.

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Photo of dheacck11
4.19/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pour is a dark brown with hints of red. No head.

Nose has lots of smoke and coffee. Some sweet molasses. Hickory.

Taste is full of nice toasty malts. Little smoke. Some cedar. Some grain. Finishes light and juicy

Feel is spot on. Medium light

Great beer. Unique style. Perfect for early fall. Kind of like a porter but different.

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Photo of canudoa9
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Jack's Abby labeling encapsulates the lameness of the Boston area better than any other brewery and I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing, though surely accurate and resonant with the locality.
The beer is murkier than most black lagers I've had from these parts. Its a dense Boston fog of a beer, again perhaps not something entirely pleasurable but it socks you in and asks you to study, to read and to think. The taste lingers like the winters and tastes damp in your mouth for a while like the spring. Overall I'm a fan. I think this is a great place-based beer.

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Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is clear but very dark garnet red in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high tan head that took a long time to die down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface, a large collar around the edge, and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Moderately strong aromas of dark chocolate malts are present in the smell along with some hints of smoke.
T: The taste more resembles that of a rauchbier and has moderate flavors of smoked malts along with notes of chocolate.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: As a hybrid between a schwartzbier and a smoked porter, this beer is very easy to drink, especially if you aren't looking for something that is dominated by smoky aromas and flavors.

Note: Manufactured on April 15, 2013

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Photo of MusicaleMike
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 3-7-13 and kept in refrigerated storage since then.
Poured into a tall pint. A deep ruddy brown body with excellent clarity and plenty of active carbonation visible through the glass little tiny bubbles, very fine, constantly and abundantly rising, supporting a two finger thick tan head. Slowly, the head collapses, but forms a dense creamy texture.

Smell of doughy malts, crisp and filled with hints of a dry, roasted quality. Subtle smoke aroma. Nothing hoppy about the aroma. Little husky/grainy smell that could be confused as metallic.

A super clean beer, with a crisp malt profile, and a flash of smoke right up front that doesn't signal "rauchbier" since it's fleeting, and hardly lingers into the aftertaste. A light malt sweetness presses against the front of the palate, but the finish is dry and lightly bitter. Just enough to be very well balanced. The carbonation is lively, and good at keeping this lager on the lighter side of the body.

It definitely feels like a bigger beer than I am used to for schwarzbier lagers but that's not a bad thing. This is their take. It's also smoky which is not quite appropriate for the style either. However it's a easy to drink beer, interesting flavor, and very satisfying.

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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 Botulizard
4.81/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the bottle into a tulip pint glass.

A: Rich, deep, dark brown. Bears a strong resemblance to black coffee. A slightly lighter color, I'd call it a very dark amber, becomes visible at the very top and bottom of the glass or when viewed in the right light. An initial head of about one half-inch dissipates fairly quickly, leaving minimal lacing (if any at all) around the edge of the glass.

S: The nose is predominantly smoky, and very pleasant. Complimentary to the smoke, the nose has an almost, I might say, meatiness to it. Reminds me very much of smoked ham or bacon.

T: Taste is very similar to the nose, with a pleasantly bitter, almost chocolatey finish.

M: Like most dark beers, there's a heavy, sort of chewy mouthfeel here.

O: This is a great beer with a lot of character and very pleasant qualities. I really enjoy the smokiness. Despite being heavy, I feel that this beer can be enjoyed any time of the year. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 25 fl. oz. bottle labeled mfg: 03-07-13. Sampled on July 19, 2013.

It is handsome to look at in the glass with a deep dark brown color that builds up to a delicate long-lasting off-white head.

The aroma does have some nice smoke as promised with a little coffee-like malted ester. Looking at it and smelling it invites me in to drink it.

The body was around medium but there was a kind of astringency too.

Like the aroma, the taste has a good smoked malty character that is lightly sweetened and finishes clean. Yes, I would have it again.

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Photo of Rippeddisc
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Flown in from my sister :)

A - deep dark brown. bit of head. quickly peetered out

S - sweet malt. bit of hickory? subtle wood smell.

T/M - mmm holy yum. nice big mouthfeel. doesnt run away like a lager might expect. roasty malts, no smoke though.

O - i'm a sucker for these beers. big on flavor, not as filling. could session this. yum.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark brown color with a decent tan head and a little lacing

S-chocolate, coffee, dark malt, hint of vanilla

T-raoasted malt, chocolate, coffee, hint of smokiness and vanilla,mild bitterness in the finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-interesting blend of styles, a little porter, a little dark lager, did not get a lot of smokiness in this

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Photo of bum732
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

S: Light coffee roast, hints of smoke, cocoa powder, light vanilla

L: Black, creamy light tan head with solid retention and lacing.

T: Sweet, creamy coffee-like malt with a hint of smoke. Low bitterness with a very creamy, coffee roastiness with some cocoa powder intermingling. Light smoke comes through near the finish, finishing dry and slightly roasty.

M: Medium full body, super creamy and soft on the palate. Medium low carbonation.

A really solid beer, simple flavors but executed nicely. Really dug it.

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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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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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Smoke & Dagger from Jack's Abby Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 168 ratings.
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