Firstly, I must apologize. I’ve been an exceedingly lazy blogger recently, resulting from a combination of work commitments and a strict training regime that has severely restricted my beer intake. But that’s all about to change. Today is the first day of summer, and to celebrate I’m officially falling off the wagon again!
Those playing at home might realise that I stopped my blogging in the middle of my Little Creatures Single Batch series. So today I’m opening my summer celebration with their latest release: the Puffing Billy.
Note: really keen observers will notice that I missed the Single Batch ‘The Day of the Long Shadow’. Fear not – since it’s a winter spiced ale, I’m going to save it as part of my official Christmas celebrations.
What’s in the name?
Another clever name, Puffing Billy is almost a direct translation of this beers style: a smoked bock. ‘Puffing’ = smoked, which is what has happened to some of the malt used in this beer. ‘Billy’ = bock …ok it’s hard to see the link to ‘bock’ initially, but a short history lesson reveals that ‘bock’ in German loosely translates into ‘goat’ (hence the reason why many bock beers have pictures of goats on them). ‘Billy’ in this instance, is a shortened version of billy goat. The picture on the label also shows this link, with a goat standing on the top of the Single Batch shed, and a steel drum puffing smoke to the side.
What’s in the bottle?
Initially there is just a hint of smoke in the aroma behind the malt sweetness. Big biscuit and caramel is the first hit, which is slowly replaced by a like savoury smoked flavour that piggy backs onto some hop bitterness. The smoke is the only thing really left in the aftertaste; it’s all pretty light, balanced, and acceptable…
That’s initially. Then it warms up.
Admittedly there’s no huge changes; the aroma and the initial malt flavours are all the same. But smoke that was once a light passenger has now taken over. It dominates the aftertaste and fills your mouth, almost as if there are beechwood embers in the back of your throat creating the persistent smoke. I even feel like I should be puffing out really awesome smoke rings.
I’m in two minds about this beer. On one hand, I really enjoy smoked beers, and while this one isn’t a smoke bomb like the Norwegian Wood, it’s still tasty and intriguing. I quite enjoy the way the aftertaste stays with you, allowing you to sit and contemplate the joys of life while the smoke continues to mix with your tastebuds…the same pleasures you get from smoking a fine cigar. On the other hand, this is a summer release – I don’t know that smoke is what I want in my beer on a hot summer day. But that’s a small gripe, and one that is cancelled out by cellaring some for the colder months. This beer has a wonderful balance that should be enjoyed by anyone who manages to find a bottle (it’s on the shelves at Dan Murphys, so everyone should have the opportunity to try it).
I wonder how well it’d go with bacon and eggs?…