Smokey beer is on the rise in Canada, here’s what to look for, and what to pair with rauchbier

My first time with a smoked beer was one of the most memorable sips of my life.

It was a Schlenkerla Rauchbier cracked around 5 p.m. on a porch, just as we were about to barbeque. As I wrote in yesterday’s Globe and Mail story on the smoked beer trend in Canada — it was a bit like taking a bite of a double bacon and smoked-meat sandwich on rye and washing it down with a swig of cola.

And boy was it divine with barbequed German sausage.

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My story listed a few great smoked brews available in Canada, but I couldn’t fit them all in — so I wanted to mention some others I discovered here:

Central City Rauchbier
This German-style rauchbier is a big, bold Bamburg-inspired version, there’s still a little of the bacon-like spring seasonal on tap at the Surrey brewpub. $6.25/pint
Central City Brewing, 13450 102nd Avenue – Suite 190, Surrey, BC

Amsterdam & Utopia Smoked Peppercorn Wit
This collaboration brew from Utopia & Amsterdam Brewery was made by curing malt and tellicherry peppercorns over Utopia’s applewood smoker, lending this easy-drinking, citrusy Belgian-style witbier added depth.

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I sipped this while drafting my bracket for the Ontario Brewmaster’s Cup contest — vote for your favourite Ontario brew at ontariobrewmasterscup.com

At Half Pints Brewery in Winnipeg, brewmaster David Rudge makes Smoktoberfest, a German-style rauch, made with over 90 percent smoked malt, every fall. He says this year’s batch should be available at the brewery by mid-September and at MLCC Liquor Marts in later that month. The brewery is also bringing a batch with them to Toronto in October, I would guess that’s for Cask Days.

Food Pairings with Smoked Beer

I also wrangled some food pairing tips from the brewmasters I spoke to which I couldn’t always make room for, so here is some more of their widsom:

Matthias Trum, Schlenkerla‘s 6th generation-owner

“The traditional combination is hearty Franconian food, so Bamberg-style onions, sausages, beer knuckles — all the stuff you’d get at a Hofbräuhaus. It’s also interesting to combine it with smoked cheeses, venison, smoked fish, anything that has a strong flavour, you don’t want to have a mild flavour with Schlenkerla.

“One interesting recipe I’ve heard of is like an American beer-can chicken, only people are doing it by putting Schlenkerla party kegs inside a turkey — I’m told if you put that in the smoker it’s the perfect combination.”

Stephan Ostiguy, president at Dieu du Ciel! on pairing his Charbonniere (Coalwoman) rauchbier:

“Any red meat works, and it’s interesting with strong cheeses.”

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Stephane Ostiguy and I at Dieu du Ciel!’s Montreal brewpub

John Graham owner and brewmaster at Church-Key Brewing on pairing his Holy Smoke, peat-smoked Scotch Ale:

“Pairings for this beer follows same rules as for others, it’s a versatile tipple, so you can serve it with smoked ham hocks or sausages to compliment the smoke, or juxtapose it by serving it with something fishy. I have a great recipe using Holy Smoke as the liquid to cook mussels in, and crumble blue cheese or gorgonzola in there to match the bold flavours of the brew.”

Greg Nash, brewmaster and BBQ-fiend, shared his recipe for Smoked Balticus Porter-marinated barbequed pork ribs:

“I will not tell a lie — I’ve taken home a couple of growlers before and marinated some pork in it over night and served it with Balticus. I  fortified Balticus Smoked Porter into a marinade with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, fresh-minced ginger, garlic and chillis. I marinated the ribs in that for 24 hours and it was almost a shocker when I tasted them cooked the next day, because the smoked Balticus notes were so intense. But once I had a sip of the porter, it all came together. A 24-hour marinade made it super-Balticy, for those who don’t want as intense a flavour, 10 to 12 hours should do.”

David Rudge at Half Pints Brewing, Winnipeg, says:

“In my experience, there is a huge range of smoked beers in the world and there is a huge range of bbq.  Saying that smoked beer goes well with bbq is like saying white wine goes well with fish – a completely nonsensical observation when one takes into account the vast array and availability of both (good and bad).

“I’ve really enjoyed the standard Shlenkerla Rauchbier with a mole poblano before.

“There was a lovely Gratzer (oak smoked Polish Wheat Beer) we had at last year’s national homebrewing competition that would have paired beautifully with the white poplar smoked kielbasa from the Ukrainian Co-Op in Regina.

“I find our own Smoktoberfest to go very well with a simple grilled brats and sauerkraut with lots juniper berries and bacon.”

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2 Comments

Filed under thrifty

2 responses to “Smokey beer is on the rise in Canada, here’s what to look for, and what to pair with rauchbier

  1. Ben

    Greg Nash’s porter-marinated pork ribs sound amazing.

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