Friday 3 April 2009

The Session 26: Rauchbier: A Smokin’ Story

It’s Session time again, this month it’s hosted by Lew Bryson and the topic is Rauchbier. Let me tell you a little story about Bert and Ernie on Smokin’ Sunday...

They enter the bar, Ernie more excited than Bert. A fug of smoke stings their eyes and fills their lungs, causing Bert to cough and Ernie to inhale deeply.
“What you having?” asks Bert.
“Schlenkerla, of course, that’s why we’re here isn’t it?” Ernie replies, rubbing his hands together in excitement. “What they got?” He purses his lips as he stands on his toes to see what the bar has to offer. “Oh yes, they got the Weizen, Marzen and the Bock!” He yelps like an excited child.
“Yippie” says Bert, less than enthusiastically, trying to hide his disinterest, hoping to see a tasty IPA. “Have they got anything else on?”
Ernie turns, incredulous, mouth open wide. “Are you kidding me?! It’s Smokin’ Sunday dude. They got Schlenkerla, Schlenkerla, Schlenkerla and smoked meat and cigars.”
“It’s just… Doesn’t matter. I’ll have what you’re having.”
“Sweet! We’ll do a tasting tray!”
Bert looks around the bar, trying to see through the fog. The air is thick with smoke, roasted meat and a little musky sweat. It’s busy, mainly men. Quite a lot of beards on big men, sturdy you’d say if you were being polite. Some of them dressed in lederhosen and drinking from hefty steins as if the night asked for themed clothing. This made him kind of uncomfortable.
Ernie orders, leering the busty barmaid who chews gum visibly.
“Two smokin’ trays.” His smile wide, full of excitement.
“You want the smokin’ platter too.” Her voice is droll and completely disinterested as she begins to pour.
“What’s on it?” he asks.
She breathes out a long sigh, clearly having repeated this damn list over and over: “Smoked meat, ham, roast pork, ribs, smoky hot sauces, smoked cheese.”
“Holy smokes, yeah gimme two of them!” He skips up and down at the bar while Bert still looks around the room. A table comes free and he darts over, sitting down just before another guy can claim it. He coughs under the heavy air which is making his eyes water. He doesn’t mind cigarette smoke but he bloody hates cigars with a passion.
“Choo choo, coming through big guy!” calls Ernie, a tray of beer in each hand which he slides onto the table. “You are gonna shit when you see what I got us!” Bert looks down at the three beers in front of him, all a similar murky brown shade.
“Plus the meat platter.”
“Great,” says Ernie. He tips his nose down and the overwhelming smokiness fills him, this time it is from the beer, not the bar. Ernie is opposite, dipping his nose into each glass, sighing loudly and pleasurably with each inhalation.
“Good, huh?” sings Ernie.
“Yeah, sure,” replies Bert, picking up the first glass.
What ya got first?” Ernie looks over. “Oh, that’s the Bock. So we’re starting at the top and working back. Watch out, it’s a smoky brute. 6.6%.” Ernie grabs the same glass, swirls it and sucks in all the aromas. “Oh baby, that’s the stuff.” He takes a gulp which swallows half the glass. “Oh boy, that’s goood, so much sweet smoke, so smooth, caramels, and some, like, crackling firewood.” He reclines back on his chair, a content smile on his face as he waits for Bert to go.
He lifts the glass to his nose. He gets bonfires and burnt wood and an overwhelming urge to shout out ‘bacon’. Why would anyone want to drink this, he asks himself, gazing back at Ernie’s wide smile. He takes a gulp, swallowing it straight down, almost coughing the way you do after your first drag on a cigarette.
“Oh man… Why would anyone want to drink a beer that tastes of burnt meat?!” he asks his smoke-loving drinking buddy.
“Dude you ain’t getting it. It ain’t meat, it’s SMOKE!”
“Tastes like meat to me. And it looks like coke.” He replies before lifting the Marzen, hoping for something better, something less, meaty.
“Good call. That’s the Marzen. Like 5% or something. BIG smoke.”
“Oh great.” Ernie says under his breath, sniffing the glass full of firewood and ham. He takes a mouthful as Bert watches on, nodding slightly in encouragement. “Nope. That’s meat too. Smoked sausage with, if I’m not mistaken, actual pieces of charcoal.”
“Ah man, what’s with you? These are classic brewskis! The Marzen is sweet and the smoke just wraps around your mouth, warming you up, and it’s sweet too, treacle and toffee and bread. It kicks ass.” He takes another gulp, a big satisfied ‘ahhh’. “Try the Weizen. That one you’ll love, I just know it.”
Bert lifts up the glass which Ernie points at. It’s an orangy colour, like fire he thinks to himself. He doesn’t even bother sniffing this one, he just takes a sip then replaces his glass, forming his opinion which Ernie waits for with baited breath.
“That’s like licking rusty copper pipes! Why would you drink that?!”
Ernie necks the entire glass in one satisfied gulp. “Woah yeah!” hollers Ernie, his face a wave of contemplation. “Holy. Shit. That’s. Amazing!” Bert stares back, unable to ‘get it’.
“Duuude, what’s wrong with you? It’s lighter, softer, more delicate.”
“It’s like what’s left over from a campfire that’s been smoking a pig, man. That ain’t beer.”
“Oh jeez. Campfire is good! Try the bock again.” Bert lifts the glass, sips. A mouthful of burning hell.
The food arrives just in time, thrust down on their table by the feisty barmaid.
“You guys want drinks?” she asks, hoping they’ll say no.
“I need an IPA, stout, hell I’ll even have a lager, just something without smoke!” says Bert. Ernie looks back disapprovingly, shaking his head before getting into the meat platter.
“We got an IPA tray, you want that?”
“I would love that, thank you.”
“I want another smokin’ tray please, and two cigars” calls Ernie, ripping the meat from a rib slathered in thick hot sauce. “Mmm, good ribs!”
The barmaid turns away and disappears into the smoke which fills the bar.


  1. Excellent post! I was wondering what to have with this beer... RIBS... brilliant.

  2. Great post there indeed! I always knew that Bert was evil, but Ernie a beer geek? Sesame Street will never be the same!

    It is true though, rauch really is an acquired taste, especially the big boys from Bamberg.

  3. Those muppets won't get that smoke out of their felt for months!