Bacon. Campfire. Barbeque. These are just some of the words you might hear describing the Rauchbier that is now on draft at the Tap Room. So, what in the world is a Rauchbier?? In the simplest terms, Rauchbier is a smoked beer.
To get smoke flavor and aroma into a beer, brewers will use a percentage (sometimes up to 100%) of smoked malt in their grain recipe. This smoke character from the malt will then carry through into the finished beer. The character of the smoked malt is directly related to the material that is used to smoke the malt. Each smoke source will contribute its own characteristic flavor and aroma to the malt and eventually to the beer brewed with that malt. Some common variations are peat smoked malt (think Scotch whisky), cherry wood smoked malt, alder wood smoked malt (alder is used to smoke salmon), oak smoked malt, and beechwood smoked malt.
Rauchbier is actually a traditional style of German lager with the city of Bamberg being most noted for this style. It is fairly easy to find imported bottles of Rauchbier in the US from Schlenkerla and Spezial (both breweries are located in Bamberg). Traditional German Rauchbiers use beechwood smoked malt to attain their sometimes very smokey nature.
For our Rauchbier, we stayed traditional to the German roots of the style and used beechwood smoked malt. We used a fairly conservative amount of 60% smoked malt in our recipe. The balance of the grain was made up of Munich-type malts and a small amount of caramel-type malt to provide some malt backbone to the beer. Just enough hops are used to provide a slight bitterness to balance the overall beer, and a German-style lager yeast is used to provide a clean fermentation profile. The focus of the beer is definitely on the smoke and the malt.
I hope you will come by the Tap Room and give this unique beer a try. We are really happy with how it turned out!