Himsburgs Braukunstkeller "Moll"
on tap @ La Cerveteca, Barcelona, ES
3.5€ / 25 cl. glass
Notes: Hazy deep amber/light russet, whichever... golden and orange highlights. Creamy bright white head. Very good head retention and excellent lacing. Aroma: caramelish malt, subtle floral hops, honey, background smoke. Flavor: Smoke is more pronounced than in the aroma but still low. Low bitterness. Still finishes dry. The smoke builds as you progress, and becomes residual in the finish along with some maltiness. Medium-light in body and crisp. Well-brewed, fairly interesting, and quite drinkable.
BOTTLE purchased at Craft Beer Store in Hamburg. Yellow label and unbranded pry-off crown cap. 33cl format. Brown glass. Best before: 15.02.16.
5.20% ABV. Label calls it a rauchbier. Collaboration beer between BrauKunstKeller and Kehrwieder.
HEAD: Pours a healthy off-white head of about ~7cm width. Somewhat creamy and frothy, with a robust enough consistency and a fair complexion. Leaves messy inconsistent lacing as it recedes, which takes a good 8ish minutes.
BODY: Murky and dull. Pale brown colour. Translucent. Weak looking, lacking a robust solid hue. I don't see any yeast within, but it's nontransparent.
It looks decent for a rauchbier. The head is better than the body.
AROMA: A hint of sourdough/Sauermalz, reticent smokiness of the classic rauchbier "meaty" character, maybe beechwood, brown malts, wood chips. I find no yeasty or hoppy notes (to style). The smokiness is quite mild, but consistent, coming in at about a 3/10 in terms of intensity. None of the harsher, ashier, or rough characteristics of smoked malt come through, at least in the aroma...
Aromatic intensity is average.
TASTE: Smoke is present throughout, and has some interesting interplay with the sourdough/sour malt character. Smoke dominates up front, but yields to the sourness at about the midpoint, though neither element is particularly pungent; each is maybe a 3/10 in terms of flavour intensity. Brown malts sit in the background, gluing it all together. It does bend bitter from the smoke, but the sourness on the back end and finish distracts from the bitterness. Maybe a bit more malty sweetness would dial in the balance.
I could go for more wood character; the aroma promised more than the taste delivers. But it's nicely if simply built, and the tame smoked malt taste will make this a nice toe-dip rauchbier for newcomers to the style. I do like it, but it lacks the pungent smokiness rauchbier fanatics crave, and there's definite room for more complexity, intricacy, subtlety, and nuance. Beechwood, applewood, roasted barley, toasty oak...these are all notes that would enhance the flavour of this brew if added.
TEXTURE: Slightly coarse, likely from the smoke. Wet, and even refreshing. Highly carbonated. Medium-bodied. Not scratchy or rough, like some beers in the style.
It's a decent enough companion to the taste, but there isn't a perfect harmony between texture and flavour.
OVERALL: Discerning drinkers and rauchbier enthusiasts will find it wanting, but those new to the rauchbier style - often an acquired taste - will find this a serviceable entry into the category. Drinkable and enjoyable, but unmemorable in terms of rauchbiere (especially those from Germany). One might hope for better given the breweries involved, but I'm just glad to see another rauchbier on the German market - especially one being sold as far North as Hamburg. Well worth trying in spite of its flaws, but don't expect a gem.