If you’ve never tasted a Rauchbier, you’re missing out. This is especially true if you’re a fan of Islay Scotches like Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Like many beer styles, the Rauchbier originated in Germany. It’s known for its smoky flavor. It gets this unique taste from the use of malted barley that is dried over a fire, thus imparting a dose of smoke. If you want to get your foot in the door of this style, look no further than these great options. Here are 7 beers smokier than a campfire.
If you’re listing Rauchbiers, no list would be complete without Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier. This German brew is an “unfliltered smokebeer” and was brewed according to the strict rules of the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. This bottom-fermented beer is full of hoppy, smoky flavor with a subtle hint of bitterness at the end. It would be hard to find a better example of the style.
Like many Rauchbiers, this 5.8% offering from Jack’s Abby is almost a smoked porter. The malts used for this beer were smoked using Beechwood. This and the addition of chocolate malts gives it a smoky, sweet flavor that is perfect for mid-winter sipping.
Although more on the Baltic porter side than the Rauchbier side, this German-style lager from Surly is the perfect way to ease into smoky beer. It was brewed using malts that were smoked (like other beers on this list) and is aged in oak barrels to smooth it out. You’ll find a wide array of flavors, including chocolate, coffee, licorice and smoke.
The folks at Jack’s Abby really seem to appreciate smoke. That’s why they took up two spots on this list. If you’ve already tried Smoke & Dagger, now is the time to step it up to this brew. This is definitely not for a Rauchbier novice, as the smoke flavor is pretty potent. They get this from drying the malt over Beechwood. This is pretty much a campfire in a pint.
This beers name is a pretty good indication of what you are in for when you drink it. Not only is this beer made with smoked malt, it is also aged in barrels for a short time to impart some of the oak, smoky flavors into the beer. It’s listed as an imperial smoked porter, but it could just as easily be a Rauchbier because of its smooth, caramel, toffee and smoky flavors. This version has a little bit of extra spice because it’s aged in rye barrels.
Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing pays homage to those who risk their lives to jump out of airplanes to fight fires with their Smoke Jumper beer. This imperial porter is made with barley that was smoked by hand at the brewery. Due to this, it has flavors of caramel, molasses, licorice and toasted sweetness and a subtle smoky flavor.
Evil Twin has really made a name for itself in the last few years because of its well made and boundary-pushing beers. The Cowboy is no exception. The idea for this beer was to literally make a beer that a cowboy would enjoy. They did this by making a pilsner, using smoked malts to give it a campfire flavor worthy of an outlaw.