When writing for LouisvilleBeer.com, I try to spread my reviews around the metro area as well as neighboring cities. I also like to explore some of the stalwarts of the local craft beer scene, not just the new or hyped beers, but also some of the ones we may take for granted. Bonfire of the Valkyries by the New Albanian Brewing Company is one of those often overlooked beers.
I poured this undated 22 oz. bottle into an etched tulip pint glass. The very dark brown/black body supported a modest tan head that receded to a film.
The smell is primarily smoked grains. A bit vegetal, but inviting. It smells like stepping into a BBQ restaurant – sweet and smoky. Faintly reminiscent of peppercorns and campfires.
The texture of this beer is creamier than I expected from a lager, however, this is a big lager. Medium to full bodied with adequate carbonation, smooth in the mouth.
The taste reflects the aroma. Restrained smoke with a welcome snap of lager crispness. The smoke is definitely the main character in this beer, but it does not assault you. The middle is a bit sweet but it finishes with a light, roasted grain bitterness. The IBUs are low at 20. There are some dark sweet chocolate notes as well as a light nuttiness. Very well hidden alcohol – this one weighs in at a hefty 8% ABV, but it is difficult to taste it here.
I suspect this beer is homage to Roger Baylor’s well-known love of smoked Franconian rauchbiers. I find this to be a well-balanced and easily drinkable smoked beer. It is so drinkable that it would be easy to gloss over the subtle, yet present, layers of this enjoyable beer. I am confident this would pair well with anything from your grill or smoker this summer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s my take on this beer a couple years ago in our old “60 Second Beer Review” series that was too short-lived.