Meet the lager family: Rauchbier

Adrian Tierney-Jones

Adrian Tierney-Jones

03 December 2019

The epitome of lad culture, lager is sometimes seen as a one-dimensional beer style. But there are more characters and personalities in the world of lager than you and your customers might think. Adrian Tierney-Jones introduces us to them in this six-part series


Rauchbier

Family member: The mysterious niece

The mysterious niece might be in Peru backpacking, or studying tarot and tantra in Brighton; but when she does appear, there is a sense of mystery about her, a bit like Rauchbier, which has its origins in the Franconian city of Bamberg. It’s a beer that can divide drinkers. Some love its assertive smokiness, while others flinch and mutter about smoked herrings and bonfires.

Some of the mysterious niece’s friends

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen
One of those beers to try before you die, if only to experience its extraordinarily unusual smoky character.
5.2% abv, POA, Nectar

Torrside Brewing Franconia
Brewed in Derbyshire, this is Torrside’s terrific tribute to Bamberg’s rauchbiers.
5.2% abv, £97/30l keg, Eebria Trade

Keeping it in the family

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is the pioneer, the archetype, the mysterious niece who doesn’t really say too much about her background. It is amber-brown in colour, has a balanced smokiness, some bitterness, an aromatically malt-tinged mid palate and a dry finish. Bamberg’s Brauerei Spezial also produces a rauchbier.

Favourite story

The tale is told that Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier dates back to the 15th century, as does the origin of its makers Brauerei Heller. A tale is also told of how its singular smokiness comes from malted barley being dried over a beechwood fire as brewers used to do in ancient times.

Gets on well with

Pork is the winner here: A massive knuckle of pork with dumplings, though some suggest that it works just as well with Chinese and Thai food. Or you might just do what the locals do – drink it in the pub chatting with friends.

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