Best smoky beers


Nothing screams wintertime more than warm fire in the hearth or casual conversation under the stars on blankets around a bonfire. But one thing is for sure—if you spent any time around a fire, the smell will linger on you. It’s a unique scent, one that imparts flavor to fish and meats alike. It also can be found in beer. Here are several with varying degrees of smoky intensity.

Caldera Rauch beer

Caldera Brewing Co. Rauch Ür Bock
This smoked lager is a go intro into the style as it isn’t overly smoky. The quaffable amber—with a sweet malty body and a soft-pretzel-accentuated finish—probably won’t scare any novices away.

Mystery Brewing Company Thornfield’s End Smoked Rye Stout
This beer, from a small brewery in Hillsborough, NC, is all about malt: cherry smoked malt and the chocolate rye malt. This stout has a grassy, dry rye mouthfeel; you can taste the grain. There’s a Sanders dark chocolate cherry cordial candy and burnt toast-accentuated finish with a slightly medicinal (cherry Sucrets).

Aecht Schlenkeria Rauchbier Märzen
The pride and joy of Bamberg, rauchbier literally means “smoke beer” in German. It’s made using the ancient tradition of kilning the malt using beechwood, which gives this beer its unique taste and smell: It reeks like a campfire when freshly uncapped and poured into a glass. As dark and smoky as it is, it has a decidedly thin mouthfeel. As a märzen, you’ll find a sweet malty backbone beneath those campfire notes.

Old Guardian

Stone Brewing Co. Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Barleywine
This is a big beer— a very big beer, weighing in at 11.4 percent ABV. Oak aging imparts vanilla notes to this smoky barleywine. There’s a sweet, caramel mouthfeel and a boozy burn-in-the-chest finish.

Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter
Developed in 1988, Alaskan Brewing Company’s American craft beer take on a smoked porter owes more to the tradition of their location than being inspired from Germany. Smoking salmon is a longstanding tradition in those parts. So taking some alder wood and smoking your beer doesn’t seem like such a stretch. The company also smokes its own malts. It’s an award-winning, limited edition beer for a reason: It kicks ass.

Evil Twin Cowboy Smoked Pilsner
A pilsner might seem like an odd choice of a beer to get smoked. But Evil Twin’s concoctions know no boundaries: they make a biscotti beer for chrissakes. Cowboy smells like a rauchbier but tastes like a pils in that it has a prickly, carbonated mouthfeel and peppery Noble hops finish. Cowboys love campfires and cowboys love beer. So what’s not to like a brew that brings them both together?