Podcast Episode 305: Matthias Trum of Schlenkerla Isn't Preserving the Ashes, He's Keeping the Rauchbier Fire Burning

Recorded among the wood-paneled walls of the centuries-old Schlenkerla pub in Bamberg, Germany, sixth-generation brewmaster Matthias Trum shares his deep insights into smoke, balance, and history.

Jamie Bogner May 26, 2023 - 7 min read

Podcast Episode 305: Matthias Trum of Schlenkerla Isn't Preserving the Ashes, He's Keeping the Rauchbier Fire Burning Primary Image

Photo: Joe Stange

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Matthias Trum is the sixth-generation brewer at Bamberg’s Heller-Trum Bräu—better known as Schlenkerla—and he is as obsessed with local history as he is with producing world-class smoked lagers via their old-fashioned methods.

Bamberg has a long history of brewing, and Trum is a great student of that history—and his family has played an important role in it. In this episode, he immerses us in that story, discussing:

  • old family brewing logs that detail strong beers as well as lower-strength ones made from second runnings
  • the true story of rauchbier, and Schlenkerla’s role in preserving its legacy
  • details on Schlenkerla’s own wood-fired malting process, and the old practice of using different types of wood
  • the non-linear intensity of the smoky character in Schlenkerla’s beers
  • the importance of decoction to fermentation and flavor
  • the flavor contribution of their direct-fire copper kettles
  • the trick of balancing smoke and malt with evident hop bitterness
  • experimenting with malts smoked by different woods and paired with different aroma hops
  • balancing the non-smoked yet subtly smoky Helles Lagerbier
  • how hyper-inflation led to the development of the Helles

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].