First up in BiR is a collaboration from New Belgium Brewing Company. This isn't a collab with another brewery, but the latest New Belgium beer to incorporate Ben and Jerry's ice cream! This Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale utilizes a blonde ale base and incorporates the key ingredients from the ice cream into the ale. Those ingredients, the chocolate chip pieces and cookie dough, are very much present as flavor notes, but they generate a surprisingly low amount of sweetness. To be frank, I expected a beer bordering on the sickly-sweet side, and was pleasantly surprised to find such a low level of sweetness present. The chocolate did become more prevalent and just a hint sweeter as the beer warmed, but still nowhere near the point of intolerance. The beer pours a mostly clear, pale yellow color, and has an ABV of 6%. In addition to the ice cream flavor notes, the beer is fairly grainy and light, and thanks to the low sweetness, I found it to be an easy drinker.
Next up is a Rauchbier, or smoked beer, from the local German-style brewers, Bierkeller Columbia. The beer had a deep red hue, and the smoke note ("smoked beer" IS literal) was quite prominent, and got a tad overpowering for me over the course of the glass. Toasty malt notes are also present, along with a mesquite/grilled meat feeling generated by the smoke. Sadly, this beer is not for me. I have greatly enjoyed some of Bierkeller's other offerings, and despite past experiences, I occasionally give Rauchbiers another try. But I just couldn't get into this. I can respect Bierkeller's efforts--I'm sure they nailed exactly for what they were aiming. That target is just not for me. I look forward to my next Bierkeller Braunbier or Kellerbier.