Today I will be staying in Germany and travelling a little southeast to Bamberg to sample a unique type of beer called a rauchbier (r-OW-sh) or smoke beer. This style was born in Bamberg in the 1500s. It is created by drying and smoking green malts over an open beech wood fire, begetting a taste that can only be described as smoked meat or bacon. Are you scrunching your nose? To me, it is delicious!
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is the quintessential smoke beer brewed at the 330-year-old brewery known as Brauerei Heller-Trum. I am resampling the Urbock. There is also a Märzen, and Weizen (wheat). The Urbock is the stronger version and the Märzen is the classic. I was lucky to find this treat at World of Beers in Orlando, a very nice bar with forty taps and over 500 beers on the menu.
Appearance: as you can see from the photo it pours a rich Coke color. Even trying her hardest not to (why?), the waitress poured a perfect three finger head that slightly domed over the lip of the glass (sorry I snapped the picture a little after it dissipated).
Smell: smoked ham and char, heaven. There is no need to have a complex aroma because the smokiness is not cloying but pleasant and intoxicating.
Taste: thick, chewy, smoky wood and underlying semisweet malts. Again, it is not a gagging smokiness but layered and savory.
This beer certainly is an acquired taste but surely enjoyable. Pair it with some smoked gouda or applewood smoked cheddar or some traditional German Kasseler (smoked salt-cured pork chops). Aecht Schlenkerla can be special ordered at any ABC but you will need to buy a full case of twelve, 16 ounce bottles, so get a bunch of bacon loving friends to pitch in. If you want a more subdued smokiness to ease into the style, try Rogue’s Smoke Ale, Fort Collins Brewery “Z-Lager”, Samuel Adams “Bon Fire Rauchbier”, or Samuel Adams “Cinder Bock.” All are available at select ABCs.
Beer Blogger Adam Shugan is the store manager of our Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala store.