20 February 2008

Barleywine at Mahaffey's tomorrow, Smuttynose Scotch Ale tonight

First, tomorrow's news, clipped from the weekly dispatch from Mahaffey's of Canton:

"Join us tomorrow night upstairs for the Great Barleywine Challenge. This will be a blind bracket tournament-style tasting to come up with your favorite American barleywine. Plenty of cheese, pretzels and crackers for palate cleansing and alcohol up-soaking. Warning: This is not for the faint of heart. These beers are big. Seating is whenever you want to arrive. Will begin at 6 and end at 9:30. $16 a head. Also, a prize package will be awarded to the person who guesses the most right."

Hmmm, sounds like a plan. Dunno whether I'll be able to update from it live; I don't think Mahaffey's has WiFi, but I continue to be surprised by the amount of free/unsecured wifi to be found around Baltimore.

Meanwhile, for tonight, Smuttynose Scotch Ale, a 22-oz. bomber picked up somewhere along the way (probably Wells or The Wine Source): Bottled 2007, no alcohol level given, pours bright and porter brown (darker than all those "stouts" from Belgium last weekend!), medium head retention, nicely peaty/smoky nose, not overdone--but then we actually taste the beer, and it's frankly a rauchbier, as smoky as a BBQ shack, and though balanced with plenty of malt, the dryness of the flavor accentuates the smokiness to an almost preposterous degree. Do NOT get this beer unless you really, REALLY like smoky beer! On the other hand, it's reminiscent of the late, lamented Baltimore Brewing Co.'s Rauchbock, though a bit drier. As the glass drains, however, the tongue acclimates to the smoke and more malt profile slips in. Or maybe the taste buds are slowly dying off from smoke-induced cancer?

I wrote an article for a somewhat recent Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, "How Scottish is your Scottish Ale?" Suffice it to say that in Scotland, this beer would be a novelty act, not a regular quaffer.

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