Game Day Beer Review: Brauerei Heller-Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen
(5.50% ABV) And now for something completely different.... While perusing Beer Connoisseur's current issue, I saw this smoky German classic listed as one of 2011's best beers. And while perusing the aisles at my local liquor store, I happened to see it on the shelf. When opportunity knocks, you've got to answer the call.... This is not a beer for everyone -- I'll start right there. It's a classic German Rauchbier, with its smoky aroma immediately apparent before it's even poured out of the bottle. In the glass, Aecht Schlenkerla is dark black, with just a glimpse of ruby red noticeable in the sunlight, and a full, tan head that leaves behind fairly decent lacing before saying goodbye. It smells deeply and intensely smoky, like the aftermath of a slow burning fire, the beech wood incredibly aromatic. If you close your eyes and let your imagination run free, a campfire has got to be located nearby.
Aecht Scherlenka is smoky on the taste, too, although the smoke is by no means overwhelming, because the beer also has that beautiful marzen drinkability to it. The aftertaste lasts a very long time -- I feel like I just smoked a fine cigar. It's a surprisingly smooth beer, one that cries out for food -- a German sausage, or some good ol' American barbecue, would be the ideal accompaniment. It's got a crisp, carbonated mouthfeel, and is eminently drinkable -- this beer really grows on you. In fact, the marriage between the smokiness and the marzen is so good, that one begins to forget about the former, and instead you'll find yourself focusing appreciatively on the malty smoothness of this masterpiece from Bamberg. A+