Quick Take: Mac FannyBaw is brewed as a 750ml monument to smoke and tangy malts. Pushing the smoke cloud to the side, regular beer drinkers will find a fine, but unremarkable ale. Unfortunately, this is a niche beer that probably won’t satisfy that niche. I appreciated it for being different and find it to be an ok beer, but it can’t live up to the high cost of entry.
Brew Facts: Against the Grain doesn’t brew anything safe and that rebel spirit extends to their beer names as well. While Mac FannyBaw may seem innocuous enough, it essentially translates to Son of Vagina Testicle. So just live with that for a moment… The beer is brewed with Peat smoked malt to lend a flavor of earthy Scotch and smoked salt to provide a “sea air” style brininess. The barrels used were from Angel’s Envy.
Appearance: This one poured an amber orange with red hues. I immediately took a moment to stare at the glass and back at the bottle. For some reason, I got it in my head that this was a smoked bourbon stout and as you can see, that is far from the case. No real head to speak of, but there was a slowly swirling galaxy of bubbles on the surface. Certainly a nice looking beer, but given I don’t see the height of German rauch brewers for me, Aecht Schlenkerla, on the label, it continues to give me pause.
Aroma: I don’t think I need to be in the same room with this beer to take in what it has to offer. Simply breathing informed me that this beer is proud to smell like a house fire in a glass. The smokiness and bourbon barreling gives a whiff of peaty scotch with a touch of salt. There’s a tang to it that isn’t quite Lebanon Bologna if you are familiar with that wonder of PA Dutch meats. Interesting aroma, but made for the cigarette and whiskey lover that likes to be reminded of those vices even when drinking a beer.
Taste/Mouth Feel: Pushing my face through the aroma thick air above the glass, I take a cautious sip. My mouth is greeted with a mild amount of carbonation, slightly more than a cask beer, but a thin body. Given what this beer puts out, I must admit my surprise that the weight isn’t more substantial. The taste is initially dominated by smoke that lingers over the apple and toffee malt. On subsequent sips, the smoke subsides and the grain bill is pushed to the surface to mix with the whiskey/peat flavors. This beer is a strange beast that backs the smoke off as it warms, which gives way to a sweeter side that isn’t quite cloying, but brings the thought to mind. In case you are being forced to drink this beer against your will, wait for it to hit the higher temps to balance out the smoke and make for a better overall experience. Not a lot of bourbon oak here, but there is some spicy whiskey bite on the finish. Those looking for deeper flavors or complexity will have to settle for smoke and an apple-y sweet strong ale as the star of this show.
Final Thoughts: Based on my description of the aroma and taste, you may get the impression that I flat out hated this beer. That isn’t the case, but I can’t really recommend it. It is an odd one, I’d expect no less from a brewery that put together a flavor profile for a Gose that made it taste like a tangy chicken sandwich with roasted red peppers (There Gose the Neighborhood), but it hits a middle ground that may not satisfy the casual or adventurous. Mac FannyBaw is brewed as a 750ml monument to smoke and tangy malts. Smoke-heads (I guess that’s a thing?) that want a crazy intense smoke would do better to have Otto from Victory or anything from Aecht Schlenkerla. Bourbon barrel lovers will find tangy whisky qualities, but little else. Pushing the smoke cloud to the side, regular beer drinkers will find a fine, but unremarkable ale as its base. Ultimately, this is a niche beer that probably won’t satisfy that niche. I appreciated it for being different and find it to be an ok beer, but it can’t live up to the high cost of entry. Son of Vagina Testicles indeed.