Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Smokebeer and rustic bread

Two of my favourite beers in the whole world are the Rauchbier from the breweries Spezial and Schlenkerla in Bamberg. They have a lovely smokey-bacon aroma and taste, but this isn't a novelty; the underlying beer is a great lager in its own right. So when I got into homebrewing it was only a matter of time before I would attempt to make a beer from smoked malt too.

I did an experimental brew with 100% Rauchmalz. The shop only had 1kg available when I popped in, so it was a very small brew. People are always warning you not to use more than 10 or 20 % Rauchmalz, but Schlenkerla and Spezial use almost all Rauchmalz in their beer and I don't find it overpowering. I read that they also use a little Munich malt, which makes sense - the Bamberg beers are very dark.

Brewing didn't go too well, and I thought this was a complete write-off. When I filled it into the fermentation vessel I managed to pour about half of it all over the floor and what did make it in was so full of trub and hop gunk that it didn't look like it would ever settle. It has settled further but the layer of trub at the bottom is growing thicker day by day.

More importantly, when I was brewing with it I didn't detect the smokiness at all. I'd already decided that the Rauchmalz I can get here was rubbish and resolved not to buy any more.

I tried some of it today. The smoke has magically appeared. This is shaping up to be good beer. Pity I'll be lucky to get a litre of it.

The bread in front is mostly white flour with a little spelt, made with the yeast left over from my DMS disaster. I like this yeast better in bread than I do in beer. I am really loving baking with the beer yeast. I'm making some of the tastiest white bread I've ever done. I just slap it in the oven and it rises beautifully. I don't bother shaping or slashing it so it turns out an irregular squarish lump, but you can get away with that if you call it "rustic".

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