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The Beers of Autumn: Rauchbier by Brauerei Spezial

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Smoked beer isn't a natural go-to for American drinkers, but it's got a certain charm, particularly in this season once famed for (and practically defined by) the practice of raking leaves into piles and then setting those piles on fire.

The German practice of smoking beer isn't well known in the US, which makes Brauerei Spezial's Rauchbier an exotic treat. Typically made with malted barley dried over an open flame, rauchbiers boast a smokey, peaty flavor. Spezial's version has a smokey edge, but it's mild, to say the least; nothing compared to a Highland or Island Scotch single malt, for example. The beer itself is otherwise quite light and drinkable, a blank canvas for the smoked aftertaste. Not a tour de force, but pleasant and novel, for certain.

Also: It goes well with smoked gouda.

Rauchbier Brauerei Spezial 17 oz. bottle Purchased at The Four Firkins for $5.09 Overall Grade (scale of 10): 6 Autumness: 65% (Smoke conjures up autumn, most definitely; otherwise lacks seasonal characteristics)