Don’t be confused, this is no traditional Märzen; this is Rauchbier. A German style dating back to the 16th century, Rauchbier is a smoked, bottom-fermenting beer that began in the Franconia district of Bamberg. To get the characteristic raw smoke flavor, green malt is dried over beech wood and then added to the mash with the rest of the grain bill. Rauchbier is not a popular style in the U.S. , and there are not many options available. Our shelf staple for September, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, the original Rauchbier, is one of the only bottles that’s readily available at any good bottle shop. I know I’ve walked past it hundreds of times before finally buying a bottle.
I will say that Rauchbier is an acquired taste. Some of the flavors may be troubling to some; medicinal and beef jerky are two that come to mind. Acquired tastes need to start somewhere though, so why not try one this tonight!
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen is brewed by Brauerei Heller-Trum and has 5.4% ABV. It has a powerful smoke aroma that brings on some notes of anise and smoked meat. The color is a beautiful dark red that is crystal clear. The head retention on this beer is fluffy and creamy, like in a Belgian style beer. As you begin to drink,, you will notice toasted bread flavors and the smoke lingering in your throat. The more you drink, the more complex you realize the beer is, with flavors of raisins and tobacco coming through as the beer develops and your palate gets used to it.
This may not be the style you clamor for, but it should be experienced. If you are heading to a party or bonfire this month, pick up a bottle or two. One thing is for sure: You will have the most unique and talked about beer.