Mixed feelings abound when I come across a low-alcohol variety in the Craft Beer Advent Calendar. On the one hand, when I drink a beer, I like to feel like I've drank a beer afterwards. On the other had, it's a school night, the weekend was pretty tiring, so perhaps this 3 percenter (abv) is just some sensible programming undertaken on my behalf by the calendar crew.
Then I saw that Pukki is a Polish/Finnish collaboration, then I saw that it has had spruce added, and then I saw that it is a smoked beer (sometimes called a rauchbier), and my acceptance turns very swiftly to anticipation.
After supper tonight, I poured the beer and was greeted by a cloudy and pale gold beer, with a crisp white head that left a nice ring of pearls around the edge of the glass. The scent of smoke is easily discernible but not overpowering, and you can smell the fresh, biting scent of spruce needles behind it.
The beer-taste itself is very mild, owing to the fact that Pukki is made from malted wheat, not barley, and its subtlety serves as an ideal delivery vehicle for the smokey warhead. It is a tremendously smooth -drinking beer, with the acrid and tangy taste of the spruce coming through at the very end, and providing a brilliant finish to the beer.
There is more information about this "Grodziskie" style of beer on the Browar Wasosz website, including the difficulty in brewing this 'Polish champagne' and the nature of the Finnish contribution.
An absolute delight to discover, Pukki (Finnish for Santa) is exclusive to the Advent Beer Calendar for now, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy this beer if I came across it again. Daring in some ways, comforting in others, I think it would make a fantastic complement to just about any sort of grilled meats, especially salmon or a pork tenderloin cooked on a cedar plank.