Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Three Skulls Brewing Co: Buccaneer Bacon Lager

Hello hello! Yes I am doing another review. Quite spread out from the last, but can you cut me some slack since I am currently traveling through Europe? Ok so this next beer is a little bit out there in terms of style and ingredients, a lager flavored with bacon. I planned ahead, and had this review written out ahead of time (tasted it mid-January), since I have just found a bit of free time, I can review it, and keep my readers (I know there are a few out there) happy. Ok so, let's get down to business...Three Skulls Brewing Company...

Where are they? How long have they been there? What else do they brew? A bacon lager, really? All good questions; in time my friends, in time....so Three Skulls Brewing Co (I have never been to the brewery or brewpub, but I have tasted several of their beers) is located northwest of Green Lake and three blocks west of Greenwood Park (Greenwood is north of Seattle, on the other side of I-5 from University of Washington for all you non-seattleites out there). Three Skulls Ales just happens to be the side project of one: Baron Brewing Company. Maybe you have heard of them or run across their beer in the Seattle area? Baron Brewing Company has been in service for the better part of nine years, and just three years ago decided they wanted to create an alter-ego that would allow them to brew northwest (pirate-themed) style beers, as opposed to the german-style beers they were brewing at Baron. So voila, here we are, Three Skulls Ales. And aren't we all happy they decided to branch out? I think so. As far as selection is concerned, they have a nice unique variety, which includes this mysterious Buccaneer Bacon Lager, a blood orange Belgian-style Witbier, Hop the Plank IPA, Yellowbeard Pils, Blackbeard Dark Lager, and their winter warmer: the Three Skulls Poison (which sounds delicious by the way). Personally, I have only tasted the Bacon Lager, and the Blood Orange Wit, but all of the others sound quite interesting. Go find their beers in Seattle, currently on tap at these locations.

Ok so, this Bacon Lager...how do they brew it? Is there really bacon in the beer? From the name we gather that this beer is a lager, which means the yeast rests on the bottom and ferments at cooler temperatures than that of ales. We learned from the last review that lagers can be all colors, strengths, and flavors, but many of the mass produced big name breweries out there, brew pale lagers. This example is a pale lager as well. I have seen a couple of other bacon beers in the Seattle area, but most are dark in color and full in body and the flavor of bacon is not very well represented. When I saw this was a lighter bodied lager I was excited because I figured the flavor of the bacon would be more dominant. Now the next question: is there really bacon in the beer? On their website they claim there is. I don't doubt it, but from a brewing standpoint, lipids (fats) in a beer is not a good thing because they become solid at cooler temps (take butter for example, or the thick white solidified grease in your pan after you cook bacon). So is there a fair amount of bacon in this beer? Probably not. But there is some. And how they add it, I have no idea, but they claim it must be added at exactly the right moment. Aside from the bacon in the beer, the lager recieves another splash of smoke from Birchwood smoked malt used during the brewing process. Birchwood smoked malt will lend a mellow campfire-like quality, as well as meat-like and sometimes cheese/butter-like notes to a beer. Ok so let's move onto the actual review of this beer since most of you are probably quite intrigued at this point.....

Name: Buccaneer Bacon Lager
Category/Style: Smoked Lager
ABV: 5%
IBU: 25
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Birchwood Smoked Malt
Hop Types: Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Bacon
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 22 oz

The Pour: Golden, pale orange hue. Slightly hazy and cloudy. The head is fluffy and white, slight lacing, weak retention.

The Nose: Dominated by bacon and smoke, whoa! Really lots of smoke and bacon, maybe some meaty notes and a definite citrus presence. Meat and cheese, slight woody notes, reminds me of a German Rauchbier. Kind of funky nose-wise. Lots of meaty, buttery, woody, cheesy notes floating around in there...

The Taste: Really citrusy initially. Lots of smoke, definite bacon-like notes, but very much dominated by citrus and lemon. Bacon lingers, lots of smoke in your nose. Light tingly carbonation, body is light, very slight bitterness on the finish.

The Verdict: I hate when people do this, but I can't help but say that this beer is very much a hybrid of a Berliner Weisse and a German Rauchbier. If you have ever had either one, I would say that you will know what I mean when you try it. I will also say that I have no idea how long this bottle was sitting. Was not told if it is preferable to drink this beer fresh or let it sit for awhile, but assuming the light nature and low alcohol, I would say it is most likely meant to be consumed fresh. Given this fact, the beer spent considerable time outside of the refrigerator and inside, so that may have altered the taste. But regardless, given these circumstances, I rather liked the beer. I thought it was quite a unique offering. And even though it had notes of meat and cheese (like I said, very similar to a Rauchbier) I enjoyed the odd combination of refreshing citrus-like qualities in the flavor (again, not sure if that was intended). I also am not sure where you might be able to find a bottle. Maybe bottleworks down in Wallingford or another specialty beer store, this bottle was given to me by a friend. Ok that's that. Good luck tracking down a sample of this, and if you do, let me know what you think! Until next time, toodles!

Thanks for reading!


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