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On Smoked Beer

  • Guest :Sam Cruz of Against the Grain
  • Duration :20 min
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By Sarah Freeman, May 25, 2017

Where there’s smoke there’s fire. If you’re lucky, there’s also BBQ, maybe some s’mores. But are you really expecting to find smoke in your beer?

Smoked beer is not so much a style but a seldom-used technique. Popular in the 18th century, a time before the Industrial Revolution, wood-cured malts were the grain of choice. Smoke was not so much a desired characteristic in beers brewed from these malts, but rather a consequence of wood fire being the only way to dry grains.

Rauchbier is a style that came out of this time and has also survived the test of time. Although it has taken its fair share of scrutiny: It’s too overpowering, it’s not drinkable, and the ever-so-popular claim that it taste like meat. Correctly smoked beers offer a subtle smoke flavor and hint of dryness that allows other flavors to shine, though. 

Against the Grain Brewery in Louisville Kentucky has staked its claim on perfecting the art of smoked beer. From stouts to sours, an in-house smoker has allowed them push the boundaries of this technique. Co-owner Sam Cruz joins us today to shine light on the misunderstood style.


Thanks to Remo Remoquillo for the header illustration.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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