What’s all that smoke coming from Triple C Brewing in Charlotte?

This Saturday, Triple C Brewing will release Eyes of the World, a smoked porter aged for six months in bourbon barrels.
This Saturday, Triple C Brewing will release Eyes of the World, a smoked porter aged for six months in bourbon barrels.

Triple C Brewing will release a new beer this Saturday, but in many ways it’s just the latest in a study of smoke.

The brewery opened its doors with a Smoked Amber, which is still one of its core beers. Then it ramped things up with an Imperial Smoked Amber and aged this bigger, smokier beer in bourbon barrels. And now Triple C will once again explore the smokier side of the spectrum this Saturday when it releases Eyes of the World, a smoked porter that’s spent the last six months in barrels that once held Heaven Hill bourbon.

“I was really happy with the Imperial Smoked Amber, but basically Eyes of the World is an evolution of that,” said Scott Kimball, Triple C’s head brewer. “I just thought it would taste better and translate into the market better as a smoked porter.”

So instead of sticking with the amber theme, Kimball added more dark malts and increased the amount of cherrywood-smoked malt to create an assertive smoked porter that could stand up to some extended time in a bourbon barrel.

“It was really smoky at first, but six months in a barrel really mellowed the smoke out,” Kimball said. “It starts sweet but finishes a little dry with that smokiness. You get this really nice chocolatey sweetness that goes well with that cherrywood smoke, then some beautiful vanilla and bourbon flavors from the barrel.”

As eloquent a description as that is, selling many people on a smoked beer – whether amber or porter – can sometimes be tough. For Kimball, that often means likening the brewery’s Smoked Amber to one of this region’s most revered foods: barbecue.

“I call it barbecue in a glass or beer barbecue, and that piques their interest,” Kimball said.

And if Kimball can just get people to ditch their preconceived notions about what beer should be, he finds many actually enjoy the subtle smoke of the Smoked Amber.

“I think everybody will appreciate the smoothness,” he said. “They can get the bourbon, but it’s not too much. It’s a delicate smoke flavor where it’s not like an ashtray.”

Eyes of the World was well received last weekend when it was tapped for the first time at Charlotte Oktoberfest. If you missed it, you’ll want to head to Triple C this Saturday. When the brewery opens, it will have the beer on tap and available in bottles for $13.99 each. Several brewery employees spent a lot of time hand-dipping the 22-ounce bottles in white wax this week.

They also spent time canning a fresh batch of 3C IPA, which garnered a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo., just two weeks ago. Kimball was there to personally accept the medal, which was his first in his six years as a professional brewer. The brewery has already fielded calls since then from new accounts interested in selling the beer after hearing about the medal.

“It was a lifetime goal of mine,” Kimball said. “I think there’s so much good beer coming out right now, so it means a lot. I’m still riding that high.”

Event of the week

The Brewer’s Ball

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 17.

Where: Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St.

What: The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Charlotte chapter will host the fifth annual event, which features both beers and bites from local breweries and restaurants, with a goal of raising funds to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. General admission tickets are $75 ($25 tax deductible) and include unlimited sampling, while VIP tickets are $125 ($58 tax deductible) and include one-hour early entry, a private tasting and a commemorative pilsner glass. Details: www.charlottebrewersball15.eventscff.org.