Beer as extreme sport
Rex Attitude (beer)
Unrated: novelty value only
How did you feel when the Vic burnt down a couple years back? English doesn’t have a single word for my sentiments, so we’ll borrow from German: Schadenfruede: ‘joy at the suffering of one’s enemies’. The sweet smell of schadenfruede and ash accompanied my stroll to work for weeks after that fire.
The use of german is apt, because I relive this feeling every time I visit the Brisbane German Club. It was this grubby establishment that introduced me to one of my favourite drops: smoked beer (or Rauchbier, as some brewers still call it). By drying malt over an open fire, and then using it in the brewing process, you get BEER THAT TASTES LIKE FIRE. Or burning bogan establishments (‘victory’ indeed). The classic is ‘Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier’, which at about $10 a pint is the closest thing that a person can drink to smoky bacon that isn’t, well, bacon grease.
To my delight, I discovered that smoked beer is actually not that hard to find locally. Sunshine Coast Brewery does a really excellent smoked beer, as does the 3 Ravens Brewery – both taste less like bacon and more like proper smoke.
Twitter is a good place for beer dorks since one can talk direct to brewers. Thus, I was told by @Yeastieboys a couple months back that their ‘Rex Attitude’ Golden Ale is the smokiest stuff on the market. It’s made of peated malt: the same stuff that makes some of the world’s more potent scotch (e.g. Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask) taste like burning swampwater. Then at a recent tasting, local beer guru Matt Kirkegaard apparently described the stuff as tasting ‘like pissing on campfire’. Mmm.
Naturally, I was sold, and scurried down to Archive’s cellar to secure a bottle.
Here it is:
Exciting as it is to look at (as one friend said, “That looks like Trogdor”), Rex Attitude is a brutal experience and I’m not sure if I mean that in a good ‘let’s be heavy metal about this’ way. I have had single malt whisky straight after waking up at 5am and this was even less pleasant than that. In some ways it is still exciting as a novelty and it was drinkable, but a bottle is too much for one man.
On the pour Rex Attitude is deceptively pale and modest; unlike other smoky beers there is no visual cue for the coming devastation. However, the smell is incredible. On opening the bottle, the rich, smoky aroma is intense – very pleasantly scotchy but with a chemical hint that makes me imagine that the paint peeled on nearby walls and eyes watered around the table. One friend could smell it being opened from three metres away, and more than one guest got a bit of methane/ammonia on the nose. Yes, this may indeed be the scent of a burning pit-latrine.
On the palate it attacks ruthlessly, refusing to deliver even a hint of the malty richness that is typical in many smoke beers. It does deliver a strangely dry, intense, inorganic chemical flavour that I’ve experienced once before in old french wine. To be precise, this is the taste of oil paint, right in your mouth. We were all toddlers once, and lessons are learnt at that age.
The finish is lingering in ways that I’ve seldom experienced, too. The ashes of that burning pit-latrine linger at the back of your throat long after the surprised soldier has been carted off to hospital.
In summary: check this out for lols, if you like a challenge, but don’t even think about buying a six-pack. It is not an entirely joyous challenge, but it is much more fun than drinking bacon grease or having a toilet explode under you.