Holy Shit – Smoked Beer

Posted on 01.04.09 11:56AM under All-Grain, Brewing, Tasting

I made a smoked beer about a month ago. It was a request from a friend. I would never have made it if I weren’t put up to it. I’d had that German one, the classic example of a Rauchbier. It was horrible. Like a BBQ rib in a glass. Give me an IPA any day over that nonsense. So I was a bit skeptical about making a smoked beer. I mean, five gallons is a lot of beer.

Well I kegged it the other day, and I pulled a testing pint last night. Damn, that is one hell of a beer! The smoke is present in the aroma, but not over the top. The smoke comes through in the flavor, but still not overly smoky. There is a subdued hop bitterness, with a unique smoky bitterness. Its pleasant brown color is perfect for its flavor, which also has just a hint of malty sweetness and character. This beer is still a little young, so there’s still some unwanted yeasty taste in there for me, which will subside with time in the keg.

Here’s the recipe:
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.064 SG
Estimated FG: 1.012 SG
Estimated Color: 17.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 20.5 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount     Item                                    Type         % or IBU
1.500 lb   Pilsner Dry Extract (2.0 SRM)           Dry Extract  12.00 %
4.500 lb   Base Malt (2.0 SRM)                     Grain        36.00 %
3.500 lb   Smoked Malt (Rauchmalz) (9.0 SRM)       Grain        28.00 %
1.870 lb   Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM)                 Grain        14.96 %
0.750 lb   Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)              Grain        6.00 %
0.250 lb   Peat Smoked Malt (2.8 SRM)              Grain        2.00 %
0.125 lb   Black (Patent) Malt (478.0 SRM)         Grain        1.04 %
1.50 oz    Williamette 4.6 [4.60 %] (60 min)       Hops         20.5 IBU
1.00 tsp   Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 min)              Misc
1 Pkgs     SafAle American Ale (Fermentis #US-05)  Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: Mash
Total Grain Weight: 11.00 lb
Step Time   Name          Description                        Step Temp
60 min      Mash In 3:1   Add 15.84 qt of water at 167.6 F   155.0 F

I suspect you could use any low alpha hop here, or really any bittering hop you like. The key is low bitterness, so it doesn’t compete too much with the smoke. I used extract just to boost the gravity based on my current limitations for mash size. If you have better efficiency or a bigger mash tun, you can simply add more base malt to make up for the gravity of the extract.

For my next attempt at a smoked beer, I’m going to up the Rauchmalz to 5 pounds, and the Peat Smoked to 0.50 pounds, for a more intense smoky experience. I’m also adding a half ounce of Willamette at flameout next time. I’ll try to remember to report on that one when it’s ready in about a month.

A smoked beer is a great change of pace from IPAs, Stouts, Belgians, or whatever else you’re making. Besides that, they’re not that common on the market, which is another good reason to make one.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Boak on 01.05.09 10:20 AM

    Looks great. We’ve got some Rauch malt and some peat smoked malt in, but haven’t got round to trying them yet, aside from a miniscule amount of the peat stuff in an autumn ale we made (we didn’t notice it)

    Might nick this recipe this winter…

  2. Posted by Keith Brainard on 01.05.09 8:22 PM

    So how much is a miniscule amount? I am wanting to put some smoke as an accent in more beers, but I’m not sure how much is just enough… I mean, I thought a quarter pound was a pretty small amount.

  3. Posted by Boak on 01.25.09 6:28 AM

    We added 2oz. I’m going to up it to 4oz in this Rauchbock we’re making today.

  4. Posted by Keith Brainard on 01.25.09 7:05 AM

    I used 8 oz of Peat Smoked along with 5 pounds of Rauchmalz in my second smoky beer, and it still leaves room for even more smokiness. Though I still recommend working your way up in smokiness.

    If you under smoke, you just end up with a normal beer, but if you over smoke, you end up with an ash tray.

    Have fun brewing!