Schlenkerla with Faust

RAUCHBIER MARZEN [5.1%] by SCHLENKERLA

paired with FAUST IV by FAUST

Spidermarzen

Despite being Scottish I’ve never had much love for whisky (to make things worse, I love gin) and I’ve had an especially difficult relationship with the smoky peaty varieties. Aside from fish, I’ve never felt that smoke has a right being involved with food and drink. This aversion meant I was never keen to try any smoked beer but like most people who enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage I can, on occasion, be easily led. A mate had been raving about the virtues of Flying Dog’s Dog Schwarz so I relented and gave it a go – I wasn’t exactly impressed but by the time I’d got to the bottom of my half pint I viewed it with a bit of grudging respect. Back home I had a couple of bottles of the BrewDog & 3 Floyds collaboration, Bitch Please! A few months earlier I’d bought three bottles but after only a couple of mouthfuls the first of the three had been chucked on the lawn but buoyed by my semi-successful experience with Dog Schwarz I decided to give it another… this time I drunk every drop and was (almost) sad to see it go. It was around this time that I decided to re-watch Michael Jackson’s Beer Hunter series and on seeing the section about Rauchbier I knew I had to take my smoke studies to the next level…

* * *

Faust IV was the first Krautrock LP in my collection. My memory tells me that I bought it the same day I bought Julian Cope’s Jehovahkill and Brian Eno’s Nerve Net… but my memory can be a bit of a scumbag liar! I know I definitely bought it in Tower Records in Glasgow and I also know that on our back to G-Rothes we visited a friend who lived in seaside holiday resort of Kinghorn. This friend had an older brother who’d been in a moderately successful band – couple of tracks played by John Peel – and consequently he’d been encouraged and inspired to develop a love of discovering new sounds. On our arrival he grabbed our bags and eagerly had a rummage. Realising that the only band he’d not heard anything by was Faust he elected that they should be the first thing we listen to… the opening track, Krautrock, can come across as a bit of  caustisc noise to those not used to such sounds and to us it didn’t sound much better but there was something about it that suggested although we perhaps weren’t quite ready for it we shouldn’t entirely dismiss it and that one day we would return to it and fall very much in love…

* * *

Rauchbier Marzen

Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen pours a nice murky brown with a decent sized smoke-tinged white head. The head does quickly drop in size be remains visible throughout the drinking.

The nose is crazy: beer isn’t meant to smell like this… the initial charge is greasy smoky bacon and baked beans  but once that assault dies down we move away from the kitchen stove and outside to be embraced by the delightful aroma of the peat-fire air of a highland village then we’re whisked back inside for a puff of a vanilla cigar and the faint funk of fireside baffies. The first time I smelt this beer I thought it was awesome but it did leave me a little reluctant to pour it into my mouth… there was no need for my fear.

The taste is nowhere as full-on as the nose suggests it is going to be: yup, there is smoke and plenty of it but it’s expertly balanced with a pleasant sweetness – almost like root beer infused with smoke… almost. Take some time to explore the smoke kick and you discover hints of honey and caramel and vanilla and a little kiss of green grass. The finish is nice and clean with a gentle smoky bitterness that lingers softly.

An exquisite beer best enjoyed on a cold Sunday afternoon while freaky sounds emmnate from the hi-fi.

* * *

FAUST IV

Faust IV opens with the 707 second sonic assault of Krautrock. As mentioned earlier, I wasn’t exactly enamoured when I first heard this track and for a long time I’d skip it and go straight to track 2… but things change and what was once abrasive can start to sound rather beautiful. It a fantastic journey that’s so immersive that it’s almost impossible to tell that it sounds identical the whole way through… give or take a few sonic flourishes and side-steps.  The Sad Skinhead is a short but great slice of Kraut-Mock-Reggae – this is the song that made me persevere with the album. It’s a joyous couple of minutes laced with howling guitars and xylophone solos – it never fails to make me smile. Jennifer is a slow-builder. It starts off as a straight-forward (for Faust) love song before we’re sucked into a claustrophobic space invader attack and then it shifts style again to morphs into Victorian Ale House musical outro. Just A Second (Starts Like That) follows on in a similar vein: more weird sound experimentations and crazy going-ons (It’s probably round about here that most people wish they hadn’t drunk that tenth beer.) But don’t panic! A new song has kicked-in and they’ve started singing again – everything will be okay if they just keep singing… Picnic On A Frozen River is the song that me sit up and go “Fucking Hell! This band is immense!” I won’t do it the injustice of describing it with my lacklustre words but suffice to say it starts off fantastic and keeps getting better and better and better until you’re busting all sorts of crazy moves while fully reclined on the sofa. Right about know you need to catch your breath and the Faust have thankfully obliged my offering up  Läuft…Heißt das es läuft oder es kommt bald…Läuft – it’s another snatch of the mellow ever-evolving brand of folk-trash that Faust do so well. Next up we’ve got the sci-fi gothic horror of Run – if the Phantom of the Opera dropped lysergic acid and listened to psychedelic mind-expanding masterpieces then this is the crazy noise that would be blasting out off the Palais Garnier. The final track of the album, It’s A Bit Pain, starts out as a lovely and gentle acoustic number but it’s intermittently interrupted by a jarring alarm-like sound that suggests all is not going well down at the nuclear reactor. After the second alarm blast a female voice begins to talk to us – I’ve no idea what she says but I’ve always been deeply in love with her… and then album begins to fade out as the greatest guitar solo of all-time screeches away…

Yeah, it’s a bit of an acquired taste but take the time to acquire that taste and you just might find that it becomes one of your favourite ways to pass three quarters of an hour… especially when savoured alongside a bottle of Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen.

* * *

… all photography by landells except Faust IV …

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~ by landells on February 4, 2012.

One Response to “Schlenkerla with Faust”

  1. […] Raging Bitch [8.3%] before Chris took a very interesting left turn by rocking up with a couple of Rauchbier Marzens [5.1%] from Schlenkerla, which was impeccably served in it’s very own branded glass. Time was very much against me […]

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