In either late May or Early June I picked up Shiner’s Smokehaus Helles Lager summer seasonal. I enjoy a good Rauchbier every now and then and so I thought this would would be great when we fired up the smoker and smoked some ribs. At the time I was wrong. Very wrong. The beer was like someone poured liquid smoke into my glass or that I was standing over a smoker inhaling all of the smoke while drinking. No really. It tasted more like smoked meat than most smoked meat I’ve ever eaten. It really wasn’t that good. Somehow, after letting the beer sit in the fridge for an extra 2 months it got better. A lot better. I was hesitant to even try it after the first experience, but I did and I’m really glad. This time around it seemed more balanced. The smoke wasn’t overwhelming and it actually tasted really good. I had tried the beer the first time with some ribs fresh off the smoker hoping that would calm the flavor down but that didn’t work. This time it worked really well. The flavors had calmed enough that it made the smoke flavor of the meat pop just a little more. As in it tasted like a Helles with a hint of smoke as opposed to liquid smoke with a hint of beer. Very tasty.
The aroma was slightly sweet with a hint of mesquite smoke. The color of the head was white while the body was a yellow gold (almost straw like). The taste was light and crisp, with lots of smoke (the smoke isn’t over powering though). I didn’t think it really even had what I would call “a lot” of smoke after the two month fridge aging. It reminded me of cornbread, sweet and a little bready/grainy. I had drank a sour just before and I didn’t take notes like a good blogger though so maybe I should let Austin finish. As the beer warmed a little I did notice the smoke a little more but again it was not nearly as overwhelming as it was 2 months prior.
Note: BeerAdvocate has several reviews from readers that say the smoke is very subtle. I’m not sure if we got a bad batch or what but the first ones we had were very potent.
This beer would be great in cooking something like chili or maybe even a marinade. Some other beers similar to the Helles Lager style (minus the smoke) are:
Saranac Helles – The Matt Brewing Company
Bikini Blonde Lager – Maui Brewing Co.
Summer Lager – Schlafly Brewing Co.