it comes to smoked beers or “rauchbiers” as they’re called in Germany,
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen is probably the king of them. I’ve
been drinking good beer for many years but for whatever reason I never
got around to this one until now. I’m sorry I did because this isn’t
just some novelty brew, it’s a legitimate, well-rounded and well-crafted
I poured a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint glass. There was no freshness date and it cost $4.99 ($0.30 per ounce).
Appearance: Seemingly dark brown but actually a pretty shade of
mahogany. Pours to a two-finger, beige, foamy head which laces and
Smell: A meaty smoke scene; similar to that of a campfire. A hint of sweetness as well.
Taste: There’s a lot going on in this palette, which is surprising for
two reasons. First of all, this is a Märzen, which is the same as an
Oktoberfest lager and that style isn’t known for being complex or full
of flavor. Secondly, it’s a rauchbier and the smoke tends to override
the rest of the palette. This is more than simply a smokey lager,
though. There’s a nice taste of dark malts throughout the first half.
Lightly confectionery-tasting and a bit nutty. Through the middle I
detect a surprisingly strong chocolate presence, which becomes stronger
on the finish. The smoke is noticeable right away, but it really emerges
on the finish. It adds a light bitterness and a bit of astringency. It
actually seems to hold all these flavors together and transition between
them very well. I’m impressed by how it all works together.
Drinkability: I’m sure plenty of newbies might have trouble getting used
to the taste of this beer, but seasoned drinkers will not. The
mouthfeel isn’t quite as crisp as I was expecting; it drinks more like a
strong ale with a full body and slightly tepid mouthfeel. The flavors
don’t linger, however, which is nice. At 5.2% ABV it’s got enough body
so that a single pint is quite satisfying.