8 Wired – The Big Smoke

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As a lifetime non-smoker the idea of a smoked beer isn’t overly appealing.  However as a lover of beer, I can’t help but see the appeal of almost any beer style.  I have limited experiences with smoked beers – there have been a couple, such as the Coal Harbour Smoke & Mirrors, and my takeaway has been that they are interesting but not something I’d reach for very often.  8 Wired tends to have a bit of a unique twist on any style they produce so I felt it was definitely worth a re-visit by grabbing a bottle of The Big Smoke, a smoked porter than weighs in at 6.2%.

So, 8 Wired is from New Zealand and isn’t terribly hard to find around Vancouver – all of the noteworthy private stores tend to stock their stuff.  My first experience with 8 Wired brews was their trendily named iStout, which I loved.  They also produce a noteworthy IPA and saison, among other things.   They tend to run just north of $10 for a 500mL bottle, which isn’t cheap but for the occasional splurge they are worth it.

This beer pours a blackish brown, like, well, tobacco.  It smells of barbequed dark fruits, if that makes sense.  There is definitely some chocolate sweetness in there, as well.  Maybe a little black licorice.  The smoke notes seem to be accompanied by a prickly earthiness that I’d wager is the hops (one thing I’ve learned about 8 Wired is they use a healthy dose of hops in all their brews – which is a very good thing I feel).

The taste is strongly smoked, not quite to the extent that Smoke & Mirrors was but there is still a significant sense of being cigar-infused.   The smoke also comes across as charred, dry wood but only subtly.  Those chocolate notes I smelled aren’t apparent anymore, but the smoke isn’t over the top despite being front and center.  There is a creamy malt texture as well with some caramel.

I don’t think I’d buy this again but only because I’m not a big smoke-guy.  The execution is very palatable and I would imagine for a cigar lover, this would probably hit home really well – or cross some wires, at least.

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