By Guest Writer Arlette Drahos
What in the heck is SMOKED BEER? (Rauchbier)
Sounds like one of those new fangled craft beers, right? In actuality, it’s medieval! It’s the way beer had always been made. By drying the wheat over a fire, it created that smokey flavor. That was before the drum kiln was invented So, as part of our day trip to Bamberg, we learned about this beer and had the opportunity to drink some, albeit at 11:00 in the morning! But hey, we’re on vacation, right? I had to convince Steve, my husband, it was OK, lol.
Found in Bamberg, Germany, a beautiful little Village on the river Regnitz (a tributary of the Main River). The town hall is in the middle of the River Regnitz (they couldn’t agree on which side of the river to build…so they built in the middle of it!)
A bit of background…I generally do not care for beer. When I was younger, I preferred the darker, real beers. Never did develop a taste for it though…besides most of them gave me a headache. I know, I know…some German I am, right?
You do know I HAD to try this, though, right? Some people said it tasted “bacony”; some said it tasted like licking an ashtray (although not sure I’d trust anyone who’d know what that tasted like!)
Since the weather was beautiful, we sat outside at the Hofbraeu… one thing Europeans love to do is eat outside when the sun is out…even if it’s still cool. They will have heaters for the evening and blankets on all the chairs. It’s that “Frische Luft” thing again!
We agreed to “share” a beer, as a) Steve didn’t want to drink that early and b) I usually do not like beer. The first taste was not bad at all. I did not notice bacon or ashtray…but then I had a slight cold. Steve tasted the smokey; but LIKED IT! I could drink more than a sip…a miracle. Now the real test would come later to see whether or not I developed a headache (I did not!)
During medieval times, the alcohol content of beer was not what is is today. It was between 0.5% to 2.8% compared to the 5% nowadays. They drank beer mostly because the water was bad. I guess it wouldn’t be too good if you were drunk all the time!
Hint: you do NOT have to buy a bottle of this to bring home to someone (like I did). It is available in the US at Total Wine and More (Sarasota); but, not at ABC Liquor (locally anyway). I’m sure you can find it online too.
So, if you ever find yourself in Bamberg, take in the beauty and stop for a beer break, If for nothing else, to say you got to try it in the town it was created in! It’s really is good.
Picture courtesy Arlette Drahos
More on Bamberg here Bamberg, a little Venice
I highly recommend getting a Rick Steves “Germany” book. It helped me greatly to find things while traveling I would’ve never thought of . You can purchase them right here