Nothing's Virgin Here

Guide to Smoked Beers

Smoke beers are maintaining their popularity due to the opportunity for experimentation that captures interest from innovative brewer.

Smoked beer is different from regular beer because it has a smoky flavor that is derived from the dried barley. This style of beer is typically made with smoked malts and spices. Smoke beer has been around for a long time. While it might seem like the latest trend in craft beer, it actually dates back to the 1850s.

Smoke malts are used to create smoke beer. They are typically obtained from producers who have already smoked their malts.

Smoke beer is made by using the use of smoke malts, which are commonly obtained from local producers who have already smoked their malts. Beechwood and cherrywood are commonly used for smoking and peat moss can also be used in the process.

“Smoking the malt simply uses the process used for centuries when the hot air from a fire was passed through the malt to dry it,” “It wasn’t until indirect heating of the air was invented around 1840 that beers started being unsmoked.”

says Bill Cherry, founder and brewmaster at Switchback Brewing Co. in Burlington, Vermont.

Some brewers like to smoke the malts themselves. Some establishments still use the old-school methods of burning their malts over open flames. This method retains the smoky flavor that makes their beer stand out.

Other breweries are experimenting with different ways to smoke hops. Some use mesquite and hickory, while others use brown sugar.

“The key for us is smoking our own malts. Since 1988 we have used the same re-purposed salmon smoker to smoke a portion of our malts over Alder wood. It’s a multi-day process to get the full smoky character we want in our malts. Alder wood is fairly unique as a smoke in the brewing world, but here in Alaska it is the traditional wood used to smoke meats and salmon,”

says Communications Manager Andy Kline.

Smoke beer is a great way to add a smoky flavor to a regular beer. You can also add a little bit of smoke to the top of a 12-ounce fluted glass to collect the aroma. The temperature is also important. It’s best not to serve your smoke beer straight from the beer fridge.

Smoked Beer Styles


Rauchbier is a German-style beer that is made with smoked malt. It can be used in many different styles, but most commonly it is served as a medium-strength lager. Rauchbier (German for “smoke beer”) is quite popular in Franconia, especially in Bamberg and its surroundings. In Bamberg, it is usually brewed to märzen strength (6% abv).

They tell a story about a rauchbier that originated from a fire that destroyed a cloister. The beer was made famous after being exposed to the smoke that escaped the burning structure.

A strong smoky flavor is especially important when rauchbier is paired to food. Many local favorites, like smoked meats, are known to work well with this beer.


This style of beer was made from oak-smoked wheat malt. It has a light golden color, and it has a high carbonation level. The primary flavor components of this beer are the smoke and mineral content of the malt. The beer was nicknamed “Polish Champagne” because of its high carbonation levels, and because it was valued as a high-quality beverage to be used for special occasions.

The smokiness of the grain and the mineral profile of the water used to brew the beverage gives the style its characteristic flavor. Polish breweries historically used locally grown hops and one or two strains of brewer’s yeast in its production. Before packaging, the beer is filtered to produce a bright, clear appearance. The beer is packaged before all of the fermentable sugars have been converted to alcohol by the yeast, earlier in the process than is typical in beers. Fermentation continues after packaging, and the carbon dioxide that is produced remains dissolved in the beer, resulting in a very high level of carbonation in the final product.

The beer was originally produced in the town of Grodziski Wielkopolski. Its reputation was established by strict regulations, which helped it become a worldwide commercial success.


Lichtenhainer is a sour and smoked German wheat beer. For this historical style, smoked barley malt is added to wheat malt and fermented with lactobacillus and ale yeast. Lichtenhainer belongs to the same family as Gose, Berliner Weisse and Grodziskie.

Food Pairing (by Brewer World)

When you think of smoked beers, the first thing that comes to our mind is grilled or barbecued meats. It’s often easier to pair complementary flavours not just with the smoky aromas and taste, but with attention to the malt sweetness present in many other smoked beers, especially in the traditional smoked Märzen lager, and some of the richer barbecued sauces. Apart from this, Smoked cheddar harmoniously pairs well with smokey or bacon-like notes from a Rauchbier. With the variety of smoked beers available today, the beer and food pairing is endless.


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