Every so often, along comes a beer that takes me far outside my comfort zone. This is just such a beer, and I have very little idea what to expect.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier hails from Bavaria, Germany and is a smoked beer. Smoked beers are made much like any other, except that the barley malt is infused with smoke from wood fires prior to mashing.
I’ve very little experience with this style of beer, beyond having once accidentally ordered a pint of Anarchy’s Smoke Bomb, which was so over the top as to be rather charming, and Beavertown’s much more subtle, and remarkably smooth, Smog Rocket.
Let’s see how this rather authentic looking beer compares to those two upstarts.
On cracking open the bottle, there’s an instant, ominous smoky aroma, and I’m reminded strongly of Lapsang Souchong tea. The beer pours a sinister and not entirely appetising dark greyish brown colour.
It tastes absolutely awful, of course. The use of smoke is in no way restrained, providing an unpleasantly bitter taste that sticks in your mouth and nose for hours afterwards. You can’t taste the underlying beer, as its flavour is completely obscured by the smoke. Apparently this one started life as a Märzen, but there’s no way of knowing that without reading the label.
The experience is reminiscent of sucking on charcoal or a burnt log, which is not my idea of a good time. The brewers have tried to tame the smokiness a little by upping the sweetness, but it just muddies the flavours and makes the beer sickly and cloying.
I’m sure there’s a lot of love and craft goes into Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, and the brewers are no doubt extremely proud of it, but it isn’t to my tastes. To be frank, if it weren’t for my dedication to the 300 Beers challenge, and to both of my readers, this one would be going down the sink.
Facts and Figures
|Brauerei Schlenkerla, Bamberg, Germany
|Utobeer, Borough Market, London SE1