Literally translated as smoked beer, Rauchbier is the modern context is a specialty dark lager of the Franconian city of Bamberg. Before more controlled methods of roasting malt were invented, we imagine that the vast majority of beer might have had a smokey flavor, due to the malt being kilned by use of a direct smoke-producing heat source: fire. As smoke was definitely not a flavor most brewers wanted, as smokey beers disappeared as fast as the malt roasting devise devised by Anton Wheeler (cira 1840) could be distributed. The only place in the world where smoked beer was continually brewed into modernity is Germany, specifically Bamberg, where several breweries have dutifully continued the tradition of using beechwood logs in a direct fire kiln to impart a bacony, smokey accent that might be described as an acquired taste. A quintessential food beer, Rauchbier marries beautifully with parallel flavors such as smoked meats, and intensely flavored cheeses like aged Gruyere or Limburger.
A world class Rauchbier to try: Aecht Schlenkerla Märzen