The Rauchbier is a dark smoked beer that can be both bottom or top-fermented, made with exclusively smoked malt. Rauchbier takes its name from the smoky flavor, which literally means smoked beer. Figuratively speaking, describes the term “liquid bacon” probably the best taste of a smoked beer. The reason for this smoky flavor is the smoked malt used in brewing. Although a smoked beer might seem different today, it was pretty much normal a few hundred years ago. In that time the pervasive use of direct fire in the malting process imparted smoky flavors to malted grain, which carried over into the resulting beer. As malting processes evolved, the vast majority of brewers and maltsters moved away from direct fire to indirect heating methods.
Smoked malt in beer can be traced back more than two centuries. Until the mid-17th century it wasn′t possible to make smoked malt in Central and Northern Europe.The climatic conditions allowed it rarely to air dry, as it was quite common in warmer climates. The only way to generate the necessary for the drying hot gases was fire, which is of course always associated with smoke.
In the 1700’s, at the dawn of the industrial age, kilning malt over coal fed fires became popular and pale malt was born, giving us pale malt and the smoke free flavor beer drinkers enjoy today. Smoke flavoured beers (which included the original Porters) largely died out in the 1800’s, being replaced by paler ales and continental lagers. However a few breweries, notably the Franconian city of Bamberg in Northern Bavaria, clung to the tradition of their smoky beers.
Rauchbier has a medium to dark brown color with a slightly reddish touch. The flavor is full-bodied, slightly malty and bitter; primarily remains a mild to significant smoke flavor on the palate.