Rauchbier (And Winter Lagering Tips)


The frost giant Surtur.

Winter is great time for many homebrewers to try brewing a lager. The fundamentals of brewing lager beer do not vary with the seasons. However, for homebrewers without an actively-cooled fermentation chamber, colder outside temperatures may provide a seasonal opportunity.

If you look around your house, you may find places — such as a basement or attic — that are significantly cooler than the rest of the house. Depending on where you live, an unheated garage or outdoor shed may also fall within a usable temperature range for a period of time.  [Read more…]

Partial Mash Rauchbier


Surtr (from Old Norse mythology) and his flaming sword. (Picture in the public domain.)

Partial mashing is a great method for making beer. The biggest benefit is that you can add the aroma of base malts to your beer. (See my article, “Why Partial Mash?” for all the benefits of partial mashing.)

One beer style that you can’t make with the usual malt-extract-and-steeping-grains method is rauchbier, or smoked beer. (The word “rauch” means smoke in German.) Although some smoked malt extract is made, it is usually hard to find. Smoked malt — also called rauchmalz — on the other hand, is not hard to find. Partial mashing is a great way for a stovetop extract brewer to brew a smoked beer, and get the wonderful flavor and aroma from smoked malt in his or her beer.

Rauchmalz is a base malt and so it must be mashed, not simpley steeped. In this recipe — that is adapted from my all-grain rauchbier recipe — the smoke flavor is fairly mellow.  In my all-grain recipe, I use nearly 100% rauchmalz, and it is intensely smoky — more smoky than most people like it.

You can also ferment this beer with ale yeast to make a smoked altbier (although no such beer exists commercially). And, to change the smoke character, you can also smoke your own malt with the hardwood of your choice.

The lager version requires a fairly large yeast starter. One option is make the starter in your fermenter. Once the starter is done fermenting, pour the starter beer out and rack the fresh wort onto the yeast.

As you might expect, this beer goes great with barbecue.


Surtur’s Sword

Rauchbier (or smoked alt)

by Chris Colby

Countertop partial mash; English units



A smoky lager that goes great with barbecue.

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