Tonight’s selection is a bit out of left field: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen by Brauerei Heller in Bamberg, Germany. This one is absolutely unique among beers I’ve tried. ‘Smoke beer’ is not just a marketing term. The barley malt grains are actually smoked over a fire of beech wood logs then brewed in copper kettles and matured in the cellars of the brewery in Bavaria.
The nose on this beer shows they’re serious about the name. I can most closely compare it to the smell of a campfire that’s been doused with water and the smell has permeated your clothes. The charred smokey wood is unmistakable. As you might expect, smoke also dominates the flavors you get from this Märzen (a dark lager), but there’s also some caramel, and a bit of a bitter aftertaste towards the middle and end but it’s not off-putting. There’s an overall cleanness to this lager which is actually pretty refreshing.
The beer stands nicely on its own, but this would absolutely be a great choice to pair with food. I’m thinking a nice smokey sausage and maybe even some strong cheese. A little Google work also yields recommendations for pairing it with pulled pork. The descriptions of the tastes and smells associated with this Bavarian Märzen might scare you off at first. Don’t let them.
As a beer to mix it up, this is a great choice, and to pair with the right food, I bet it’d be even better. Highly recommend you give this one a try.
Drinkability: B- (you probably wouldn’t want more than one or two of these, good though they are).
Vitals: 5.40% ABV, 1 Pint, 0.9 oz bottle served at about 45 degrees F.