10 Great California Smoke Beers

Top 10 California

Food GPS beer editor Sean Inman chooses 10 great California beers by style.

The German name is Rauch. In English it can mean to reek or fume, but for craft beer purposes, the word we are looking for is Smoke.  Sometimes that smoke is a background note and other times it is like breathing in a campfire, then tasting it.  Many of the beers on this list are seasonal and will be harder to find so let me know if you have your own suggestions. For each beer, I note what ingredient supplies the smoke that you will smell and taste (if I have the information). Without further ado, here are 10 great Brewed in California smoke beers to introduce you to an uncommon style.

1. The Bruery – Smoking Wood – Beechwood and Cherrywood smoked malts make this 10% ABV beer a treat. That and aging in rye whiskey barrels.

2. Highland Park Brewery – Lapsang – The famous smokey Chinese tea, Lapsang Souchong, is the ingredient behind this balanced take on their Refresh house beer.

3. Noble Ale Works – Bill Brasky – Smoked malts form this Son of  Bitch or Hurensohn from the brewing mind of Evan Noble.

4. Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits – Where There’s Smoke – Smoked Rye paired with two kinds of hot chiles make for a fiery version of a rauchbier.

5. Societe Brewing – The Bellowsman – Malts smoked with oak and cherrywood give this stout its roasted notes.



Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

Blog Comments

Rauchbiers are traditionally lagers, with beechwood-smoked malt. So Craftsman is actually respecting tradition with its Smoked Black Lager.

That said, in the primitive days of brewing, long before lagers existed, all beers were ales and all were dark, unfiltered, sour and smoky — because the only way to kiln malt then was over an open fire.

Good point. My American-centric knowledge betrayed me.

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