Review: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

Review of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock from Brauerei Heller Bamberg (Schlenkerla) in Germany.

Beer Type: Rauchbier  ABV: 6.5%  Tried from bottle.

Their Description: “A full bodied smoked bock beer for Bamberg’s strong beer season (October through December) in fall. Brewed already in the summer time, it is matured for months in the ancient Schlenkerla rock-cellars underneath Bamberg. Tapped freshly from the oakwood cask and the Schlenkerla brewery pub. Similar to, but much bigger than the classic Marzen style.”

The Reality: This beer starts with a strong savory/smoky scent that is reminiscent of meat (no joke). The flavor has a slightly sweet heavy malt flavor, but finishes with the smoky and savory notes that the smell alluded to. It is dark brown, drinks fairly heavy but smooth and the smoke flavor isn’t as aggressive as you might expect due to the balance with the maltiness. Overall it is pretty well balanced, but very rich, so be prepared.

Final Verdict: Sometimes you’ll hear people talk about a beer like Guinness, and they’ll say “that beer drinks like a meal”. Schlenkerla Urbock certainly falls into that category. It’s not as heavy or thick as an oatmeal stout, but when you combine its dense malty base with the rich savory flavors, it does feel that way. I’ve always loved rauchbiers (smoked beers), so I view the Schlenkerla line of beers as the pillars of that community, but I also recognize that they don’t have as much widespread appeal as a hefeweizen or a Citrus IPA. However, if you know that you like rauchbiers you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t try Schlenkerla Urbock at some point, because it is their boldest and most full flavored beer (at least from all the ones I’ve tried). If it is too intense you can always ease back to the Marzen, Wheat Smokebeer or Lager. Much like the comedy stylings of Dane Cook, if his live act is a bit too intense for you, you can always scale back to comedians like Louis C.K. or Andy Kindler.

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