Beer Fact Friday: Rauchbier
Quick German lesson: “Rauchbier” translates to “smoked beer.” It’s a designation given to any brew imbued with the campfire-like flavor of smoked malt. Unlike most malted barley, which is dried and toasted to differing degrees through the circulation of hot air, smoked malt is set above an open fire of dried wood (usually beechwood). As the smoke rises from the burning lumber, it permeates the barley husks, imbuing the malt with the flavor of *rauch*.
Brewers have been using this kind of smoked malt in their beers for centuries. (In fact, before new malting and kilning technologies were invented in the 19th century, it’s likely that most beers contained some degree of smoky character.) Smoked beer is considerably less common today, but interested parties can still find it—especially if they search in Bamberg, Germany, an ancient town located near the center of Deutschland and known as the world capital of rauchbier brewing.
“Rauchbier” can really be any beer style. Brewers can (and do) create smoked versions of Helles, Porter, IPA—even some sour ales. Most commonly, however, Rauchbier is a copper-colored lager close in flavor to a German Märzen.
Want to try it out? We just tapped a small keg of experimental rauchbier at 8th Street. Ask for it by name—it’s called Bamberger, of course.