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Smoked Beers

by: BeerAdvocate on 02-14-2001
Very few breweries craft a true "smoked beer," most likely due to a lack of awareness and lack of adventurous palates. The style is an old German beer style, its origins go back to the 1500's and to the district of Franconia and the town of Bamberg, where it is loving known as, Rauchbier. It's a bottom-fermenting beer (a lager), and typically of dark colour and has similarities of the Oktoberfestbier. Green malts are literally dried over an open fire of beech wood, imparting a unique smokiness ("rauch" is German for smoke), the usage of which produces beers of an acquired taste. Imagine a smokiness so robust, so assertive, that it tastes of spiced, smoked meat. At times it can be quiet a robust, even overpowering beer, more so with some American versions that use peat smoked malt which carries a cloying smoked flavour that can ruin a beer in excess. Peat smoked malts are used in many other styles, like Scotch, Scottish Ales and Porters. The flavour of peat smoke tends to be much stronger and more assertive so brewers use very modest amounts in the mash.

Examples:
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen & Ur-Bock Style, from Brauereiausschank Schlenkerla in Bamberg, Germany and imported by B. United International. These two beers are exclusively brewed with smoked malt only. This is one of the last breweries in Germany that still do their own malting, they incorporate the time honoured process of drying the malt with a forced beech wood fire.

Rogue's Smoke Ale was inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, an American rendition of the German Rauchier Style. A top fermented ale with some Munich smoked and the traditional Bamberg beech wood smoked malt as well as a healthy dose of Noble hops. Word is that those tiny 7 oz nip bottles are going to be upgraded to 22 oz bombers!

Jinx, by Magic Hat in Vermont. Though a fall seasonal it holds a better shelf life do its 6.9% alcohol by volume and the use of peat smoked whiskey malt. A close version to an American scotch ale.
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