Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slip Point Brewing - Smoked Scotch Ale

Hello, how is everyone? The beer I am reviewing today comes from Clallam Bay, a city located on the northernmost portion of the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle by three hours or so. I was drawn to this bottle because of it's handmade label, the almost certainly homebrewed brew contained within, and the fact that the side of the bottle read: "This handcrafted ale...has been approved by the brewer's wife and cat..." Indeed a sure sign of a true homebrewed beer. After a short chat with the clerk at 99 Bottles, my assumption was confirmed. Apparently Slip Point Brewing is nothing more than the brewer's own home; a true example of a working nano-brewery. The beer contained within (I was warned) was not a typical Scotch Style Ale; naturally my curiosity was piqued. In my opinion it is very difficult to brew a bad smoked beer.

After doing a little searching on the interwebs I soon realized the difficulty of attaining information on this brew. There is no ABV to be found on the label, no IBU, and no confirmation of which kind of smoked malt was used. It was decided I'd have to do a little bit of detection with my palate on this one. It is stated that this beer will: " across the tongue with the faint flavor of a summer campfire..." Ok let's see how much dancing on my tongue this brew does.....

Name: Beach-Fire Smoked Scotch Ale
Category/Style: Smoked Ale
ABV: Unknown
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Rauchmalt?
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 22 oz
Location Purchased: 99 Bottles, Federal Way, Washington

The Pour: Hazy cloudy golden yellow, head is white, not much retention or lacing...

The Nose: Really something astringent there initially, fruity esters of some sort, almost like an over-ripe plum or apricot, very aromatic, a little metallic. Almost smells of half-fermented fruit. A bit deeper is the Beech smoke from the rauchmalt and the two aroma's clash. It smells slightly sweet but smokey as well. As is the usual case I pick up meaty notes and some beef jerky but the over-ripe fruit notes are well dispersed throughout. Loads of driftwood and campfire as well. Tough to pick out more than that.

The Taste: Quite thin on the body. Carbonation is really light. Astrigent and a bit sour. But I reckon that's just because it tastes watered down rather than any special additives or techniques. The finish is extremely dry. A bit citrusy I might say. A little spicy. Maybe similiar to a Berliner weisse. The scotch ale side of things hasn't really come to the surface yet. I was told when I purchased the bottle that it was very different from other scotch ale's on the market (well that's quite obvious). I wonder why the brewer decided to call it a scotch ale. Notes of green apple interspersed throughout. Very very slight bitterness. But the aftertaste is not at all pleasant and leaves my tongue feeling similiar to a cotton ball. It really just tastes watered down through and through. The smoke is pleasant enough. It finishes with a lingering smokiness. I love a good smoked beer but the scotch ale title is a bit of a stretch.

The Verdict: I was naturally interested when I was informed that this beer was very different from your standard version Scotch Ale. I did a little looking around online to see what people thought of the beer. Opinions were quite diverse, quality issues perhaps? Seeing as this is a nano-brewed beer coming to us from the brewer's house, it is safe to assume that consistent this beer is not. That is exactly what it sounds like to me. Although I thought the beer had its pluses, I also felt it had its fair share of minuses. The smokiness was pleasant enough, but the accompanying flavours were not exactly complementary. The finish was not at all pleasant and I thought overall the body was rather thin and under carbonated. All-in-all perhaps the brewer is on the right track, perhaps this was more of an experiment? No idea, but I think either he should work out some kinks in the recipe or work on replicating the brew consistently. Keep brewing though, it's not like the stuff was completely undrinkable! Onward to the next beer!

Thanks for reading!


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