Rauchbier

I like smoked foods, when I went vegan that love of smoked foods didn’t go away, but the foods I smoked did. So it should come as little surprise that I like smoked beers as well. I know many a beer geek who turns their taste buds away at the notion of smoked beers, but there’s something wonderful about rauchbiers. They’ve got a little bit of malt sweetness, a solid backbone of smoke, and a touch of bitterness to bring it all together. All the traditional rauchbiers I’ve had are super drinkable and surprisingly refreshing.

The base of the rauchbier (if you remove the smoked malt) comes across as a nice quaffable bock. The longer boil helps build some of those distinct bock characteristics and I really like how those flavors mingle with the smoke.

 Solid advice, no one likes crushed fingers in their mash.

Solid advice, no one likes crushed fingers in their mash.

Rauchbier recipe, batch size 5.5 gallons:

Grains

  • 6 lbs Beechwood Smoked Malt
  • 2 lbs Vienna Malt
  • 1 lbs Munich Malt
  • 1 lbs Pilsner Malt
  • 4 oz Carafa III

Start by doing a protein rest for 15 minutes at 118F with a 0.9 quart/lb water ratio. Bring temp up to 150F by adding boiling water, rest for 30 minutes. Add more boiling water to hit 162F for another 30 minutes. Finally mash out at 170F, drain and sparge.

Boil additions (120 minute boil):

  • 1.5 oz Tettnang  @ First Wort Hopping (15IBUs)
  • 0.5 oz Tettnang @ 30 minutes
  • 1 oz  Hallertauer @ 10 minutes

Fermentation Plan:

  • I used Saflager 34/70 dried yeast for this beer, using 2 packages that were rehydrated in warm water prior to addition. I like the smooth, round flavor you get from this yeast with this beer.
  •  Ferment at 54F for 7 days, remove probe from side of carboy and set chamber to 70F and hold at 70F for 1 week, the cold crash down to 32F and hold for 2 weeks before kegging.

I recently switched which side of the house I brew on. Now that winter is over, the wood we had on our back patio is mostly gone, so I can set up and be a bit more protected from the wind that blows through our breezeway. It’s nice, the burner works more efficiently, the sun isn’t beating down on me at the end of the brew day, and it’s a bit more private so my neighbors don’t have to speculate what the heck I’m cooking up in the front of my house.

 Pretend there's a second picture just like this with a thermometer that says 162.

Pretend there's a second picture just like this with a thermometer that says 162.

I had originally planned to make this into a new style of breakfast beer. Instead of the standard thick, sweet, stout that goes well with donuts, I wanted to make a smoky base beer and finish it with maple and orange. After the beer finished fermentation, I took a bit to play with, added a touch of maple syrup and some orange infused vodka (1 ounce of fresh zest into half a cup of vodka) and wasn’t blown away by it. I really didn’t like the maple component, but the orange worked really well. It melds well with the backend sweet malt finish and rounds out the smoke profile a bit. Instead of adding all the orange to the keg, I add about a teaspoon of the vodka to a pint glass and then fill it up from the keg when I’m feeling like it.

I did a similar thing last year with this base recipe, adding star anise to it by making a anise infused vodka, but I added that all straight to the keg. It was a beer brewed to honor a friend; he likes cigars and Jagermeister…so I thought a smoked beer with licorice notes would do well by him. And it really did.

I really enjoy this base, but after brewing it twice, I do think a few things can change. I think the smoke level might be just a touch muted, it’s well balanced as is, but I think the maltiness of the beer could hold up to some more smoke. That means I can drop the pilsner malt completely and do 7 pounds of smoked malt. Along with that, I’ll do 1.5 pounds each of the Vienna and Munich, which will bump up that melanoidin component a touch. One of the reasons I do a 120 minute boil on this is to build those melanoidin compounds, which play super well with the smokiness. I figure if I bump up the smoked malt from ~60% to ~70%, I’ll want that extra layer of complexity to sing with the smoke.

 Love these new glasses from  Long Live Beerworks .

Love these new glasses from Long Live Beerworks.

Final numbers for my Rauchbier:

  • Batch Size: 5.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.057
  • Final Gravity: 1.012
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • IBU: 22
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