Coals to Newcastle — Aussie rauchbier earns German gong

A note from Helen Hollyoak, of Redoak Beer Café, Sydney, tells a coal-to-Newcastle story.
Siblings Janet and David Hollyoak established their Clarence Street brew café in 2004. And, as reported in this column some months back, produced what they claim to be Australia’s first rauch bier. (In fact, Canberra’s Wig & Pen brewed Wobbly Boot Smoked Hefeweizen several years back).

Rauchbier’s an idiosyncratic style that originated centuries ago in Bamberg, Germany. ‘Rauch’ means ‘smoked’ and refers to beechwood smoking of barley during the malting process.

The smoked barley gives the beer a distinct, smoked-meat character, reminiscent, to me, of the wonderful German-style garlic metwurst still made in the Barossa Valley. It sounds peculiar, but consumed with local food in Bamberg, it’s delicious.

It’s a niche style, of course. So the Germans may have been surprised when Aussie upstart, Redoak Rauch, earned a silver medal at the European Beer Star Awards, held in Nuremberg in November.

Redoak Rauch’s German silver medal came on top of gold medals won in the beer World Cup 2006 and Australian International Beer Awards 2005.

Brewer David Hollyoak described his beer as, ‘a rich copper colour lager with a dense caramel head and a sweet, smoked malt aroma and flavour… made of the finest Munich malts, beechwood smoked malt, Redoak smoked malt and subtle hopping.’

See for more information about the beer and where to find it. Or to source an original from Bamberg for comparison with the Aussie version, search ‘smoked beer’ at Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen is a fine example of the style.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007