Smoked Beer

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Smoked Beer

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:03 pm

I was at the Great British Beer Festival this weekend, but as it was Saturday and the final day of the festival, all the good British beers had already been finished, and the scene was mostly a series of clogged clumps of redfaced people bumping and jostling in front of any outlet pouring anything.

At that point I decided (with my German girlfriend) to visit the Foreign Beer table, where I managed to suck down a Rausch Weisse (smoked wheat) beer, which was a genre I had not heard of before.

The aroma was quite pungent as soon as it was poured (so much so I thought surely I was standing next to one of the grill stands) and it only got smokier and more cheap butcher-y in the mouth. I guess this wasn't one of the best examples of the style (although I forget the producer, so...) but I was wondering if the style is one that is generally respected? And if so, at what point does something (what exactly?) get smoked?
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:31 pm

Rahsaan wrote: And if so, at what point does something (what exactly?) get smoked?


At some point in the production of beer the malt (barley) has to be dried to stop it from germinating. Today they have enclosed dryers to do the job, but back in the day when Ostrogoths were Ostrogoths and Visigoths were Visigoths and the Kaiser was not a roll, they either had to sun-dry the malt or dry it over open fires. In the latter case, the malt gets that smokey touch and you end up with Rauchbier which, by the way, I really don't care for.
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:44 pm

which, by the way, I really don't care for


Thanks.

Quite funky stuff, huh..
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:03 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
which, by the way, I really don't care for


Thanks.

Quite funky stuff, huh..


Yup, I spent over 17 years in the Vaterland and never met a beer I didn't like ... except for that Rauchbier. It was always kind of like someone had spiked my beer with Liquid Smoke or had forgotten to clean the grill or something.
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Paul B. » Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:12 pm

Given that I tend to gravitate to pungent wines and foods (e.g. I love smoky buckwheat) I'm really curious as to whether I'd like it - never tried it yet. Though I did try smoked black tea, and it wasn't too much to my taste. That said, I do enjoy that smokehouse/butcher-shop/cured-meat aroma in wine; Pinotage is a great example of where I love it most.

I guess my jury is out on the Rauchbier for now.
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Mark Willstatter » Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:06 pm

I first ran into Rauchbier about twenty years ago in Bamberg, which I understand to be the traditional home of the genre. As Gary wrote, the smoke is introduced via the malt, in essentially the same fashion as peat smoke makes its way into whiskies: something is (or traditionally was) burned to make heat to stop germination of the grain during malt-making. I heard a story about the origins of Rauchbier involving the burning of the Rathaus in Bamberg but I assumed that to be apocryphal. I was told that beech is the fuel of choice for Rauchbier but other woods might be used, too. I think Rauchbier is one of those things best enjoyed near its origin but even in Bamberg it probably belongs for most in the category of acquired tastes.
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Otto » Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:10 pm

I love Rauchbier...... but: It has to be fresh. It is a bit like Fino Sherry in that it deteriorates in bottle very fast. (Though it sounds like you had it from keg - but I guess it's the same there, if the beer was stored in it too long, it won't be good). It will be funky (yes, I'm a funkoholinc, I admit), but it should also be balanced by a freshness. If you can, try a recently bottled Aecht Schlenkerla. Drink it with some artisanal sausages (I've always preferred Alsatian with this beer). If you still don't like it, then it's the style. But this is a style which often gets spoiled by keeping it in bottle too long and drinking it without food (I would think that any greasy food will suit it well).

But also keep in mind that I love the aroma of smoke: smoked fish is a special love for me. And in fact I came to alcohol through Islay malts (much peat and smoke).

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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Eric Ifune » Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:35 pm

I like rauchbier also and agree that Aecht Schlenkerla is the best. I also think it an acquired taste. It really needs to go with food in my opinion especially pork based.
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:47 pm

Though it sounds like you had it from keg


It was in bottle, although I don't know much about the storage conditions, especially because the bottle was whisked away from me immediately after pouring. Part of their whole "don't let any bottles leave the table" policy.

Still, thanks for all the input, sounds like a beer eligible for spoofing and gimmicks, but worth trying again..
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Re: Smoked Beer

Postby Ruth B » Wed Aug 09, 2006 11:23 am

I love the Caol Ila which I tried in Edinburgh in January for the very first time. I was delighted to find out that we can sometimes buy it here in Western Canada!

Somehow, while I love smoke on a single malt, I doubt I would share that affection with beer. If I see it though I might bring some home for my fine suds loving husband.

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