You gotta respect a beer that makes you want to eat a cow. Okay, if you’re a vegetarian, you may not respect that beer, but for the rest of us, it’s pretty impressive. I recently had the chance to try Starr Hill Smoke Out, a German-style smoke beer that comes off malty and sweet with a strong smoke flavor. You also get a big hit of bacon in there. Put it all together and Smoke Out is a hardy, rich experience of a beer, which is exactly what you want from a Rauchbier (“rauch” is German for “smoke”). Smoked beers aren’t for everyone, and they’re not for every occasion.
I wouldn’t go so far as to put Smoke Out in the novelty beer category (you know, those inexplicably strange beers that employ habanero peppers, chocolate, and the wood chips collected from National Park campfire rings), but I have a hard time imagining putting six of these back in a single sitting. Actually, I can’t imagine having more than one. But that’s okay, the Smoke Out isn’t a session beer. It’s a complex beer that’s meant to be enjoyed sparingly. You pop the top of a Smoke Out and pair it with a cheeseburger, for example, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.
Fullsteam Brewing, out of North Carolina, makes something similar with their Hogwash!, a hickory-smoked porter that’s brewed specifically to be consumed while eating barbecue.
You gotta respect a beer that’s made specifically for a certain kind of food. If that’s not the hallmark of a thoughtful artisan, then I don’t know what is. And I love Starr Hill’s Smoke Out because it pulls on those primal, cow-eating strings so effectively. I don’t typically dig on the burger, but a couple of sips into Smoke Out, and the cow craving was overwhelming.
Smoke Out hit the stores in July as part of the brewery’s new “All Access” series of limited release beers. Find it in stores in 22 ounce bottles. Even though it’s part of the new series of beer, Smoke Out already has a storied history with a couple of Great American Beer Festival awards under its belt.
Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.com