Essential Info

  • Color: Amber to dark brown
  • ABV: 5%-7%
  • Commercial Examples: Schlenkerla Rauchbier, Samuel Adams Bonfire

Like the cave storage of Oktoberfest or the wild fermentation of Lambic, Rauchbier is a style with some old school connection to beer history. And it’s a connection you can taste: smoke. While smoke isn’t a common flavor characteristic in beer today, it used to be a part of every beer—the inevitable consequence of drying green malts over an open fire. Now, thanks to our bright and shiny post-industrial technologies, we can dry our beer grains far from the smokiness of a fire, but the Rauchbier style carries on. Literally “smoke beer,” Rauchbier will have a noticeable flavor and aroma of smoke that may veer toward woody or even bacony. Depending on the brewer, it’ll be more or less balanced against some toasty, lightly sweet malt. Moderate hops may make an appearance, but the smoke factor is the undisputed king of this beer.

Schlenkerla is the only German-made style available in the U.S. as of 2015.