Smoking gets a bad rap these days. I think it's a little unfair. It's a great thing, something that should be celebrated! If more people were into smoking the world would be a better place.
....I am of course talking about smoking malt.
I say that, but actually the beer I'm drinking tonight has no smoked malt in it, but you wouldn't know that from drinking it! It's called Querkus from Ridgeway brewery, and it's a smoked oaked porter. To get that pleasant smokiness in the beer they use Scottish peated whisky malts, mixed with a dose of English pale malts. The beer is then cold matured over pieces of old French oak barrels to give it a bit of extra umph.
The beer is very pleasant, light in body (4.5%) but big in flavour. Does exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak. Smokey in flavour with good woody hints shining through the slight roasty-ness of the dark malts. Lots of nice dried fruits lingering on the tongue as well to give a good bitterness.
The reason I write about this beer was, basically, I had a big craving to get stuck into it! I was asked at the shop a couple of days ago: "Do you have any black IPAs in at the moment?" Unfortunately my answer was a simple but disappointing NO. We did have a black IPA from St Austell, but it was out of stock. This got me thinking about the Querkus, because like a black IPA, it's a very specific style, but a style that at the moment we only have one of. Even in a shop that sells over 600 different types of beer like we do, we only sell one smoked oaked porter :( (I'm not counting the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier we sell because it's not a smoked oaked porter)
It seems to me, when funky styles of beer come out, (not that they're new) 95% of them are mainly destined to be put in casks. Won't some breweries start putting their specials in bottles? Please??? Just for the awesome beer sellers like Beer Ritz?
(.... I am fully aware that some breweries are very good at bottling their specials, but others aren't so good.)