Arlington, Va: While I've had friends give me the "bacon" reaction from the Schlenkerla smoked beers, it's not really fair. Both bacon and Rauchbeer are smoked so they have a similar character. This vegetarian loves smoked beer but doesn't really associate it with bacon.
I also love other smoked beers like Alaskan Brewing Co. smoked porter, Special's beers (also from Bamberg), the smoked porter at Bullfrog Brewing in Williamsport Pa., and so on. Wish a local brewery made some so it'd be easier to find...
Greg Kitsock: Actually, brewer Chris Rafferty of the Rock Bottom in Ballston did offer a very good version of a Bamberger Rauchbier last November.
That was part of an on-line exchange on Monday at WashingtonPost.com between Beer Columnist Greg Kitsock and Sunday Source Editor Joe Heim—the organizers of the Post's March Beer Madness Competition—and on-line participants.
There were several interesting topics, such as an enumeration of local watering holes, why the beers that were chosen were chosen, etc. Heim addressed the second this way:
the controversy mostly boils down to complaints about beers that weren't included in the contest and about some that were. Here's our rationale which I hope will nip this in the bud: We didn't want this to be a beer snob contest, so we included a number of mainstream (or, as snobs refer to them, swill)brews in the mix to see how they would stack up against higher end beers. We make absolutely no apologies for doing this as we think it adds to the fun of the whole thing. And, really people, shouldn't beer drinking be fun?
As to why some beers weren't chosen, Kitsock added this ... specifically about Great Lakes (Cleveland, Ohio) and Three Floyds (Munster, Indiana):
Great Lakes doesn't distribute in our area; I've occasionally seen Three Floyds beers, but their availability is very sporadic. Both are first-class breweries, and I wish we could have included a representative from each.
And, I do remember my first Aecht Schlenkerla Ur-bock. In fact, I was a late convert, perhaps 1990 or 1991.
One autumn evening, I was tasting unfamiliar beers at the Brickskeller in Washington, DC with a female companion and Jim Dorsch. Jim was then a contributor to the BarleyCorn, predecessor to the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.
Both my friend and I at first turned up our noses at Jim's proffer of his smoky, meaty Rauchbier.
But we both, eventually, trepidatiously, sipped. And when we went to sip again, Jim politely suggested that we buy our own. We did, and were hooked.
She went on to sell gourmet foods in Washington, DC; and I, beer—including, for awhile, Schlenkerla.
Many Baltimore/DC-ers also have fond if bittersweet (or would that be smoky) memories of the late DeGroen's pungent and malty Rauchbier, since it is, alas, no longer brewed.