Today's Advent beer is a strange mix, in that it is a style (rauchbier) that originated in Germany, but here created by a 'gypsy brewer' from Denmark, then brewed in the Eastern U.S. and named after a Western-American institution, The Cowboy.
Evil Twin Brewing has no brewery or premises of their own, relying on other microbreweries to let them rent or contract out their facilities in order to produce their line of beers. They have a reputation for a lot of hop-forward IPAs as well as a number of Imperial Stouts and Porters and the like. Given the average ABV of recent offerings, I was actually okay with seeing The Cowboy presenting a far more moderate 5.5%.
The Cowboy pours out a hazy golden-orange, with a generous, lingering and lacy head. I got more citrus notes from the hops when I took a whiff, but Glory said it reminded her more of a forest, so the aromatic hops are clearly a subjective element.
In terms of taste, I get more of the piney notes from the hops, but they are backed up almost immediately by a pleasantly mild smokey flavour. I've had far more aggressive rauchbiers (notably Mikkeller's Black, which is like drinking a 20 proof campfire), but the subtlety here is a far better complement to the lighter Pilsner style and works splendidly.
It cries out for an accompaniment of smoked meat, which, regrettably, I am unable to provide, but hopefully it will pair well with the 'Boston butt' pork roast we are having for supper. It's nice to be able to enjoy the Advent beer with supper for once!