I’ve never really been a big fan of smoked beers. I had one in college from a local unnamed brewery and it tasted like I licked the ashes of a fire pit. My friend who was with me at the time remarked that it tasted like band aids. Since that time I have had a few good smoked beers that fall into the smoked porter world. Boston Beer Company a.k.a Sam Adams released a Rauchbier with their fall pack this year. If you don’t know a Rauchbier is a German style beer where some of the malt has been dried by flame instead of normal heat. The flame imparts a smokey flavor to the grain, which in turn gives a smokey flavor to the beer.
Bonfire Rauchbier pours a nice amber color and is accompanied by a white head. Certainly not what you would expect from something that promises smokey flavors, but that is what a Rauchbier normally looks like. The nose is what I will describe as a “meaty” smoke. There was some real body and depth to the smoke, like it had been put into a butchers smokehouse.
On the first taste I got (you guessed it) some smokey flavor. Behind the smoke was some really nice caramel and toffee notes that added a nice layer of complexity to the beer. Just like a lot of Sam Adams beers I find this one to be an approachable version of the style. There are more aggressively smoked beers out there, but this one is nice. It wasn’t too heavy on the smoke and allowed some other flavors to come through. I enjoyed it and my taste buds are warming up to the idea of exploring more smoked beers.