Some people (including some whose opinions I greatly respect) don’t really like this beer because they think it tastes like a campfire. Well, I like it. The smoky taste makes it taste more than a bit like bacon in a glass. No one’s suggesting you polish off five of them in one night but this typical, German smoked beer is worth adding to the rotation every so often.
Also, an update on the First/Second Draught from a couple weeks ago: GLB’s 25th Anniversary Imperial Black IPA has been in LCBOs for a short while but supplies are already running low. Only 17 locations have ten or more bottles and 14 more are down into single digits.
Opening a bottle of this rauchbier is like tending a grill stacked with ribs or leaning in towards a bonfire to blow out a flaming marshmallow: there is no avoiding the powerful aroma of wood smoke.
Schlenkerla, a historic Bavarian brewery that has been operating for at least six centuries, uses malted grain that has been smoked over a beech wood fire. The dominant flavours of smoke and dark bread in this beer are each strong enough to keep the other from becoming monotonous. The smooth, slightly fatty texture only serves to reinforce the impression that the Bavarians have somehow managed to bottle smoked pork hocks. Naturally, the dark brown/red colour looks like the rind of triple-smoked bacon or a good Black Forest ham.
We should spend a bit more time than usual discussing what to eat while drinking this beer. All those great smoked pork parts — ham, ribs, barbecue from the Carolinas — seem like natural partners, but I’d worry that the different smoke flavours would clash or cancel each other out. Instead, drink this rauchbier with those foods that would be smoked in a perfect world: roasted potatoes, buttery grilled cheese sandwiches or even guacamole and corn tortilla chips.
The Schlenkerla website claims that the third pint will taste better than the two that came before, but I could never make a session out of such a strongly flavoured beer. It’s a great representation of an important style, but really, one is enough.
Don’t let the complicated German name deter you from seeking out this beer. It’s the only rauchbier at the LCBO.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen, $3.15 for a 500 ml bottle, LCBO #409110