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Beer Review: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

by Mike Lorenz on Oct 24, 2011 in Beer
Beer Review: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

Rauchbier is an old German style of ale that dates back to the 1500s, with origins in the Bavarian town of Bamberg. Unique smoky flavors are created in the brewing process by using barley malt dried over a beech wood fire (rauch is German for smoke). In most cases, smoke flavors are so prominent that one is reminded distinctly of cured meats with each sip. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen is the prototypical version of this beer – it’s the original, brewed in Bamberg in by Brauerei Heller-Trum/Schlenkerla and stored in oakwood casks in the same historical tavern it has been for centuries.

Poured from a 16.9-oz. bottle, this unique brew has a rich, murky brown color with a thin beige head. The first whiff puts you directly in front of a campfire, rounded out by a slightly sweet malt backbone. A sip brings deep smokiness, but the honey aroma and a light hop bitterness balance out the flavors, letting the smoke take center stage without oppressing your taste buds. After a whole pint of this creamy, smooth ale, a slight smoke lingers on the palate, a counter-point to an otherwise dry finish. At just over 5% ABV, it's easy to follow the first pint with a second.

With their pungent bouquet, smoke beers aren’t for everyone. However, considering this Märzen’s heritage, it is worth searching out on tap or in bottle. As is written on coasters in the Franconian former monastery that serves as Schlenkerla Tavern:

Even if the brew tastes somewhat strange at the first swallow, do not stop, because soon you will realize that your thirst will not decrease and your pleasure will visibly increase.

Photo via Flickr user George M. Groutas

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