Review: Smoke Lager, TAPS Brewery

Smoke Lager
TAPS Brewery — Istanbul, Turkey

  • Style:  Lager, Rauchbier
  • Bitterness:  Medium
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Malts:  Smoked malts
  • Hops:  Hallertauer, Perle
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description:  "Light amber in color, this beer has a unique blend of hop flavor with medium full body and exhibits smoke taste reflective from the use of specialty beechwood smoked malt." — TAPs Brewery

Random thoughts:   This is my first review of an import. I received Smoke Lager as part of my Beer of the Month Club gift subscription. TAPs opened as Turkey's first brewpub in 2002.  They make over twenty full-time and seasonal beers. This is a German-style rauchbier (which means "smoke beer").   

The tasting:  Golden straw in color (hazy) with a white head that dissipated slowly.  Aroma of wet smoky firewood (think campfire doused in water), and light bready malt. Flavor is very smoky and woody—maybe oak?  Light bodied with a crisp mouth feel.  It finishes with smoky malt, but doesn't leave a burnt or bitter aftertaste.  I have to admit, the smoky flavor made the first few sips challenging.  But towards the middle of the drink, it started to grow on me.      

I usually don't pair beer with food, but since we're doing the smoked thing here, I think this would pair beautifully with smoked salmon.  Add goat cheese and a crostini, and voila!  Barbecue or other smoked meats would be great, as well.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this if someone gave it to me.  I read about rauchbiers a few months ago, and was excited to see it included as part of my Beer of the Month Club shipment.  I haven't found this style in my local bottle shops and am glad I had the chance to sample this unique style.

Have you tried TAPs Smoke Lager or any other rauchbiers?

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