Smoked beer

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. While Rauchbier can be seen as an idiosyncratic curio, it’s absolutely delicious enjoyed with local Bamberg food, like noodle soup with rich liver dumplings – an experience we’ve enjoyed but once.

These days smoked beer finds many expressions beyond Bamberg, including some made in the past or currently by Australian breweries. These include 3 Ravens Dark, Melbourne, Matso’s Smokey Bishop, Broome, and a memorable Wig and Pen, Canberra, Wobbly Boot Smoked Hefeweizen.

Two particularly interesting styles discovered recently at Plonk, were the opulent De Molen Belgian imperial stout – made using peated malt from Scotland’s Bruichladdich distillery; and HaandByrggeriet Royk Uten Ild, a dark but subtle version from Norway.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011