Monday, March 1, 2010

244. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen

This classic example of a Rauchbier comes from Brauerei Heller-Trum/Schlenkerla in Bamberg, Germany. Rauchbier Märzen pours a rich and clear deep brown with a minimal white head and some orange highlights; the nose is smoky and woody—it reminds us of breakfast and yummy bacon. This beer has a lot of smoky flavor front to back—it starts with a smooth malt sweetness mixed with smokiness, and moves into a dry smokiness mixed with rich malt flavor in the middle before finishing clean. Rauchbier Märzen is medium bodied with a dry and crisp mouthfeel; while smoke flavor dominates, it is certainly a German style beer hiding underneath it. The carbonation is soft, helping round the beer more than defining its mouthfeel, which works well, since the smoke has already dried out the beer quite a bit across the profile. As the beer warms, more sweetness emerges in the front and middle. The smokiness balances well with the Marzen style and profile—this beer is good drinking and worth trying again. And I do recall that I saw a mini-keg of this down at the Party Source in Newport, KY—that might make the basis of a good Sunday brunch party one upcoming weekend.

From the Schlenkerla website: “Bamberg’s speciality, a dark, bottom fermented smokebeer, brewed with Original Schlenkerla Smokemalt from the Schlenkerla maltings and tapped according to old tradition directly from the gravity-fed oakwood cask in the historical brewery tavern.”

And, because I know you all love historical anecdotes: “Bamberg and Smokebeer (the Germans call it ‘Rauchbier’) belong together, a liaison which was not without consequences. The greatest of which is the Schlenkerla: the most productive, most visited and most traditional Smokebeer source in Bamberg. It originates in the middle of the old town, directly underneath the mighty cathedral, from a half-timbered house on which the geraniums effusively glow in the summer. Anyone who did not come here and try the strong, unmistakable taste of Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer (in German: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier) cannot claim to have been to Bamberg. Schlenkerla has become a magic word for a long time, but many do not know where this word originated. Its roots lie within the Frankish vernacular, in which ‘schlenkern’ is an expression for walking not straight - just like a drunken person does. Allegedly one of the former brewers had a funny way of walking due to an accident, or maybe due to the beer, and so he was called the ‘Schlenkerla’ - the little dangler. The ending -la is the typical diminutive for the Frankish dialect. After a while, the residents of Bamberg also called the tavern Schlenkerla, and even though the sixth generation of brewers now taps the beer, the name has remained. Even in the phone book and the internet you can find the brewery under the name Schlenkerla. Today it stands for the tavern, the brewery and, most importantly, for the Smokebeer.”

ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 30
OG: 13.2° P


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