Smoked meat is one of God’s greatest creations, but few people realize that smoked beer is not far behind. In fact, few people realize that smoked beer is even a real thing.
Oh yes, it is. You’re welcome.
The smoked part refers to the malt, so basically any type of beer can be “smoked” if it’s brewed with the correct malt. This also isn’t some weird new trend – in fact, smoked beer goes back more than two centuries. Malt needed to be air-dried or dried over an open flame before it could be used for brewing, but as kiln drying quickly became the norm, smoked beer became a distant memory for most drinkers.
Today, Germany is the most known for continuing the smoked beer tradition. Schlenkerla and Spezial, both Germany brewpubs, have kept their smoked beer production going for almost 200 years. Other European countries have a few smoked beers on their repertoire, but Germany is king.
So what about in the United States? Where can you get yourself some smoked brew?
- Alaskan Brewing Co.: These guys are sort of credited with bringing smoked beers to the U.S. in the late 80s. They produce their Alaskan Smoked Porter in limited “vintages” every year on November 1 and its one of the most award-winning beers in the history of the Great American Beer Festival.
- Witch’s Hat Brewing Co.: Their smoked ale, 1908, was created in remembrance of a historic fire that took place in South Lyon, Michigan (where their brewery is) in (you guessed it) 1908. It’s an amber colored wheat ale brewed with crystal and smoke malt and it’s one of the more popular smoked beers on the market.
- Hill Farmstead Brewery: The malts in this robust, brown ale are smoked over Beech wood. It’s ranked as the #2 best smoked beer on Beeradvocate and drinkers feel it is perfectly well-balanced.
We’ll admit that it’s an acquired taste. But it could be your acquired taste, so don’t knock it ’til you try it. Fall is the perfect time to crack open a smoked brew, so let us know when you’ve tried one and what you think.