By Iron Chef Leftovers
I sometimes really love Fremont beers and sometimes really don’t, but I do give them a fair shake and will generally try them all. I was a bit skeptical about Bonfire Ale; I have had way too many smoked beers that the smoke just overpowers everything else and made them undrinkable. At $5 for a 22 oz. bottle, I figured that it was worth the risk in trying this beer.
From the Fremont website:
Down & Dirty: 2-Row & White Wheat, Midnight Wheat, Rye, Smoked, & Chocolate Malts with Cascade and Goldings hops. 6% ABV
The beer pours deep brown in color with a dark cream head and presents heavy notes of roasted malt supported by more subtle notes of rye and spice with just a hint of smoke noticeable in the background. The beer starts off on the palate slowly with mild malt before building win to more pronounced notes of roasted grain, chocolate and very mild hops. Up to that point the beer was very enjoyable, but then things went horribly wrong. The finish was astringently smoky, almost too harsh to drink – becoming very off-putting, and felt like someone had just dumped and ashtray into the beer. There was no depth, just burnt wood and ash on the finish, killing what was shaping up to be a very balanced beer (all 3 of the other people I tasted this with had the same opinion of the beer). This beer came so close to me liking it but lost me at the end, although we did discover that it paired better with spicy/fatty food – pepperoni worked well at taming the ashtray qualities while leaving enough of the roast and malt flavors of the beer to make it enjoyable.
Fremont Bonfire Ale is carless with it matches and burn down with 2 forest fires out of 5.