How to make homebrewed beer with a smoked flavor

If you’re looking to brew a unique beer with a flavor that isn’t often found in beers available in the US, try smoked beer. Below is an excerpt from The Home Brewer’s Answer Book by Ashton Lewis with tips for smoking your beer.

Smoking Your Beer

There are three common methods to make smoked beer. One is to use peated malt as one of the grains. Peated malt is used to make Scotch whiskey and has a powerful medicinal-phenolic aroma. I don’t like peated malt in beer, but if you do use it, be careful! More than 1 percent peated malt is usually too much.

Another method is to use liquid smoke. This product is intended for cooking. I can’t stand its nasty flavor in food, but I have heard that it can be used successfully in beer.

The most famous smoked beer is the German rauchbier (rauch means smoked). It is principally brewed in Bamberg and is made using a very lightly smoked Munich-style malt. Rauch malt is smoked over beechwood and has a wonderful smoked meat flavor. Because the smoking process is relatively cool, enzymes are not destroyed and rauch malt is used as a high proportion of the malt in the mash. Most rauchbiers contain well above 75 percent rauch malt. Aside from the ingredients, rauchbier is brewed like other lagers.

The key to rauchbier is obtaining the malt. One German maltster, Weyermann, exports rauch malt to the United States. If you want to try this style of beer, buy some Weyermann rauch malt and go for it! You may want to taste a rauchbier before brewing it; Schlenkerla Rauchbier is available in the States.

For a recipe for an American Pale Ale and more about homebrewing, read yesterday’s post

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