I got smoke on my mind

I’ve been dreaming about a red, clear, fresh, sparkling….. and smoky beer of late.

Ever since I had myself a tankard of Spezial Rauchbier (aus Bamberg) at Akkurat this spring I’ve totally changed my view on rauchbier. It wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy smoky beers before just that Spezial was so high quality. It was gravity fed from a keg, it was clear, it was refreshing as f*ck and the drinkability was through the roof.

During the past week I’ve had myself two smoky beers: SMÖF 2013  and Kissmeyer Smokey October.

They may not be living up to my memory of Spezial but both of them have that freshness I enjoy! That’s is what I’m hoping to get from my upcoming smoke brew.


I will be using beechwood smoked malt from Weyermann. It’s pretty mild and ca be used up to 100% of the grain bill without too smokey! In the planning of my recipe I used the two commercial examples above to pin down what I wanted in my beer.

The SMÖF had a great colour, clearness and was very fresh. One thing it was lacking was a good frothy head, something I want. I couldn’t find anything about them using more than smoke and munich malt in their grist. The Kissmeyer on the other hand had a great head, it also had both rye and oats. They undoubtedly added some proteins to the beer. That’s why I’m going to add some wheat in mine to add the extra proteins needed for a great head!

If using munich malt in a recipe for a rauchbier, it would give you some color. Since I wanted to use almost all smoke malt I wont have room the amount of munich needed to give me the right color for this beer. Instead I’m going with 3% Carafa II that will be enough to give me that deep red color.

Traditionally a rauchbier is fermented with a lager yeast. That is the main reason for it’s crisp and fresh profile – one of which I love. Unfortunately my homebrewing equipment doesn’t include any means of adding pure oxygen to the wort. I believe that without pure oxygen it’s hard to make a lager that is that crisp. My experience brewing with lager yeast strains are also not that grand. So I’m going pseudo lager this brew.

For a pseudo lager you need a clean ale strain that wont have the big fruity ester profile of some of the British ale yeast strains. For my recipe I’m going with a dry yeast, fermentis US-05. It’s like a chico yeast strain similar to 1056 and wlp001.

For hops I’m just adding some healthy 60 and 30 minute additions of hallertauer mittelfrüh for a traditional noble hop profile. The 30 minute may be a bit unnecessary but I felt I wanted to go with some more punch since this beer will be sitting in a keg for a while.

OG: 1.050 Mash temp: 64°c
 Beechwood Smoked Malt (Weyermann) 94%
 Wheat malt (Weyermann) 3%
 Carafa II Special (Weyermann) 3%
IBU: 25
 Hallertauer Mittelfrüh @ 60 min / 19 IBUs
 Hallertauer Mittelfrüh @ 30 min / 20 gr / 6 IBUs
Fermentation temperature: 15°c
 2 pkg of Fermentis US-05 (rehydrate)

Recap: oven roasted malt porter-ish.

So I thought it would be good time to give you guys an update on the results of my roasted porter. I have to confess I haven’t done a great job of reviewing it while it was still existing. It had a short life span. Mostly due to a very successful wedding.

Since I can’t really write as I’m drinking it i’ll just do a all in one reflection.

Before mashing the grain had a very burnt scent to them comparing with commercial brown malt. The wet version was a bit sweeter, still a bit charcoaly tough. This carried through into the beer in some degree, it got a comment along the line: ”It’s has a very burnt flavor”. At first I was afraid it wouldn’t settle enough and be to overwhelming but it did in fact become very drinkable since it was so light in alcohol.

Sessionable yes, but it could have benefited from some more residual sweetness to balance the roastiness. I think it finished at 1.014 which isn’t that low but still not high for a beer whit a lot of roast character. So I would go a bit crazy with some light crystal if I’d do it again.

The color was light brown, similar to new castle, but did not match in flavor. It was packing more dark grain punch than what it looked like.

I probably won’t roast my own grains again, it’s not worth the time if you ask me. I have yet to master the commercially available malts. But for you brewers out there still interested in roasting your grains: go for it! My only advice would be, try to use them in smaller proportions.

My recipe was: 1.9 kg each of the two roast, 2 kg marris otter and 400 grams of caramunich I.
For hops I used just some First Goldings at 60, 10 and 5 minutes – around 25 IBUs.

Here’s some pics from the wedding party…