Five on Five: Smoked Beer

When it comes to building big flavor into smaller, session-strength beers, smoke is fire. These five picks from the pros are sure to make sparks fly.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff May 26, 2024 - 3 min read

Five on Five: Smoked Beer Primary Image

Spezial Rauchbier

Kevin Templin, owner/brewmaster, Templin Family Brewing in Salt Lake City
“Spezial is one of my very favorite places in Bamberg, and the tavern feels like stepping back in time. Their traditional beechwood-fired malthouse brings the beer to a whole different level. The house märzen is a classic in all the senses—smooth and well-rounded, yet assertively smoky in the aroma and on the palate, without losing its balance.”

Mayne Island Smoked Oat Stout

David Dayco, head brewer, Container Brewing in Vancouver, British Columbia
“You might imagine that a tasting glass is enough smoked stout, but Mayne Island’s can go pint after pint. It’s not overly complex, but the pleasing campfire aroma complements the light maple-syrup sweetness and subtle notes of toffee and espresso. It’s fairly light in body, with a clean finish that contributes to its unexpected sessionability. Overall, a pleasing well-balanced smoked beer that doesn’t overpower.”

KC Bier Rauchbier Helles

Courtney Servaes, owner/brewer, Servaes Brewing in Shawnee, Kansas
“I recently had a few smoked beers at a bottle share and spent a pretty good period of time talking about this beer. It is a great example of a smoked beer that uses restraint. It is incredibly approachable, despite having a fair amount of smoke present. You still get the crispness and drinkability that you’d expect from a helles, but with just the right amount of savory smoke flavor from the smoked malt.”

Kundmüller Weiherer Rauch

Matt Cole, brewmaster, Fat Head’s Brewery in Middleburg Heights, Ohio
“Brauerei Kundmüller, just outside of Bamberg, produces an excellent example of the style with their Weiherer Rauch. Unlike many examples that are darker in color due to a higher percentage of kilned malts, Weiherer Rauch is pale in color, slightly toasted, with a subtle smoke character that makes it extremely drinkable.”

Live Oak Grodziskie

Tom Beckmann, owner/brewer, Goldfinger in Downers Grove, Illinois
“Our first foray into brewing smoked beers was motivated by our Polish brewing roots and inspired by the beautiful Grodziskie from Live Oak, which also received the stamp of approval from Browar Grodzisk in Poland. The lager yeast they use to ferment this Polish smoked beer provides a clean and neutral canvas for the purest expression of oak-smoked wheat malt and lemon-forward Polish hops I’ve yet to taste.”