There is beer and then there is beer concocted by genius mad scientists who proudly boast having no fixed address (insofar as to the lab / brewing facility in which their creations are brought into being goes). The genius mad scientist in question here is Evil Twin brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø - twin brother to Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller - who has come up trumps once more with a phenomenally good smoked porter, lovingly dubbed Ashtray Heart. Given that Mr. Bjergsø will be in town for Melbourne's Good Beer Week festival in May 2015 I thought it highly appropriate that I should reacquaint myself with the results of his brewing experimentations.
White I am certain that Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø himself is no creature of pure malevolence, Ashtray Heart is one almighty beast of a smoked beer. The end result of a laboratory experiment gone horribly right, Ashtray Heart pours a very dark brown - bordering on black - with a thin tan head that slowly dissipates to almost nothing. Some smoked porters leave me wanting in the carbonation department - not so with this specimen. Ashtray Heart's carbonation is low to medium but enough to ensure that the brew is refreshingly drinkable.
As the name strongly suggests, peaty smoke dominates the aroma, however there is an underlying waft of toffee and Bourbon booziness as well. Giving the glass a gentle swirl and allowing the beer to warm slightly are recommended for full effect. What follows through onto the palate delivers on the promises made - and then some!
Further to Ashtray Heart's immensely smoky flavour there are notes and nuances that range from an initial bitter entry (most noticeable when the beer is at its coldest temperature); slightly sweet toffee, caramel; coffee, cacao, mocha; charred woods and hints of Bourbon. The Bourbon character is especially pronounced given the beer's booziness - Ashtray Heart quite deliberately does little to hide its relatively high ABV of 8.9%. All considered, the boozy quality is superbly well weighted so as to compliment rather than dominate the experience.
Yes indeed, this is one masterfully created marvel of brewing science that delivered on everything its name promised. One cannot help but ponder Ashtray Heart's malt bill and the methods used to create its immense smokiness. I imagine that the ingredients and techniques employed herein shall forever remain the sort of closely guarded scientific secret that commands an exorbitant amount of hush money - such as what is really governing climate change (a small hint may or may not lay in the photo above).