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I was able to evaluate three smoked German beers from Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla from Bamberg, Germany. My buddy was courteous to make an authentic German feast (brats with wine-soaked sauerkraut, potato salad, and spätzle) to accompany our German beers. I have to say the beers we tried were very interesting (can’t say they were my favorite either) as they were all smoked beers. Here’s the breakout of the 3:
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (5.4% ABV). The Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer, a speciality since 1678, is considered the classic example in its category, has been brewed for centuries in the baroque town of Bamberg in Franconia. Following the most ancient malting traditions, all of its select barley malts are kilned over a fire of breech wood logs at the Schlenkerla maltings. Brewed in classic copper vessels and matured for months in historic cellars. Very smoky beer I thought, lacked substainal flavor other than smokiness and some malt. Beeradvocate: A- ; Ratebeer: 97pts; theBeerAuthority: C.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (6.6% ABV). This urbock is the complex sibiling of the classic Marzen smokebeer. Exactly like the classic, all its barley malts are smoked over beech wood logs. Its higher smokemalt concentration and longer maturation in the 700 year old cellars underneath Bamberg create a taste profile of the most intense smokiness that balances with deep malt sweetness. Beeradvocate: A-/A-; Ratebeer: 99pts; theBeerAuthority: C+.
Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche (8% ABV). While for the classic “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier” traditonally beech has been – and still is – used, the malt for “Schlenkerla Oak Smoke” is kilned with oak wood. The resulting Schlenkerla Oak Smoke Malt has a smoother and more multilayered smoky note than the intensely aromatic Beech Smoke Malt. The hence complex smokiness in “Schlenkerla Oak Smoke” is paired with the multifaced bitterness of finest Hallertau aroma hops. With 8% alcohol and amber color, it matures for months in the deep brewery cellars. Beeradvocate: A-; Ratebeer: 99pts; theBeerAuthority: C.