Smoko Signals

By Greig McGill

How often have you sat around at the pub debating the differences between one batch and another of your favourite craft beer? OK, maybe it's just me, Phil and our friends, and our lives are deeply sad. Anyway, it's one of those great things about craft beer - batches do vary, and so long as quality remains consistent, I think that's a pretty cool thing. Something I've always wanted was to see brewers talk about these differences. It's happened. Some have done it, and I love them for it. Well, now I'm a real live grown up brewer too, I'm going to do that sometimes as well!

Smoko was quite the baby phenomenon. We released it because I've always loved the smoked beers of Bamberg, even before I visited the place and drank my way through just about every one there was available. Oh my head... I had no idea it would be as popular with others as it was with me. I just thought some people would love it, some would hate it, and a few would be indifferent. Well, it seems like almost everyone who had something to say about it liked it! That's great... and bad. It's only bad because being a lager, it takes us around two months to brew more! Well, lucky for us, we did manage to brew some more just in time for Beervana. There are also 50 cases on their way to our distributor BeerNZ in Christchurch as I type this, so there will be more soon!

Meanwhile, we took the opportunity to do a side-by-side tasting between a "warm aged" bottle from batch one we'd set aside for quality control and a freshly bottled batch two specimen. First up, visually. The most obvious change is that we fixed the mis-spelling of Bamberg on the label! I'm surprised nobody called us out for this. Phil has been beaten (he smiled a little. It was creepy), and I self-flaggelated for missing it in proofing. The next visual change is that we dialled the colour back a little (for the brewers out there, just a little less black malt) to edge back from reddish-brown to brownish-red! The bitterness has been "goosed" a little, as it seemed to fall off fairly quickly after it left the brewery in the previous batch. Finally, the carbonation has been dropped just a tad due to some reports of over-foaming when pouring.

Those were the intentions. In practice, it all seems to have worked. The colour change is noticeable without being dramatic. The bitterness wice nice and firm, and it still felt zesty with enough CO2. It still tastes like the same beer, just with a few tiny tweaks for the better. We're happy with it, and we really hope you will be too!

Try it on tap at Beervana, or in bottles at a quality retailer near you.