This one is one of my favorites. not just in terms of history but in terms of taste and smell too. Rauchbier is German lager brewed with smoked (Rauch, in German) malt. But how can malt be smoked ?
In the old days, before the invention of smoking malts using the drum kiln drying method that firstly appeared in brewing during the 18th and 19th centuries, malt was smoked simply by being exposed over open fire. This procedure offered an intense complexity to beer taste and smell that resulted in a smokey flavor that could nicely accompany the well known German pork dishes.
After the invention of the patented method of drum kiln drying, which made thing a lot easier for brewers that wanted to brew smokey beer, some small German breweries maintained the old traditional method of smoking malt over open fire. Some of them are still pretty famous, with the Bamberg-based breweries Schlenkerla and Spezial being among them. These breweries continued to produce the all time classic “Rauchbier” with the traditional smoking method over fire of beachwood logs.
The intensity, the aroma and the flavor of a Rauchbier is defined by many variables such as the time that the malts were exposed to smoke over fire, the materials that were burned (mainly wood or straw, but in the past coal was used too) and of course, the temperature.
Rauchbier pair well with smokey meats, German sausages and of course with what I like to call “strong” cheese varieties such as Cheddar and Gouda.