So it has come to this- the final Dungeons and Dragons beer pairing. We’ve matched barbarians with sahtis, druids with saisons, rogues with stouts, and everything in between. We’ve learned horrible truths about every D&D class, ourselves, and so many styles of beer. But now that all others are done and dusted, we’ve got just one left: the warlock.
That’s right, we’re taking on the relative new comer. Only first appearing as a core class in 2008, the warlock is a bit more idiosyncratic. The flavor of the warlock is entirely up to the player, so I’ve brought in an expert in flavors. We’ve got licensed cicerone Jessica Clare with us today to finish off this series.
Me: Alright, what are your thoughts on the warlock? After all these weeks, if you cop out and say something like ‘lite beer,’ I’m gonna be mad.
Jessica: For the final class and beer pairing, we’re going to dig into my favorite family of beers and my favorite fiendish class: rauchbiers and warlocks.
Me: The name of this beer both frightens and intrigues me, so it seems like you’re on the money so far.
Jessica: Warlocks are part cleric, part sorcerer, part paladin. Their power comes from a relationship with a patron that could be a demon, elder god, or some legendary magical being. The patron of rauchbiers is smoke. “Rauch” is German for smoke, and for rauchbiers this refers to both process and flavor. Rauchbiers are brewed with smoked malt–instead of going into a kiln, barley is dried over burning wood. The type of wood makes a notable flavor difference, just like when you smoke food. It’s a very old process, kept alive by some breweries in Bamburg and Scandinavia and revived by some maltsters in the US.
Me: Having ‘smoke’ as a patron sounds awesome, but how does that turn out taste-wise?
Jessica: “Rauchbier” isn’t a term specific to one style, so a lot of types of beer can fall under the rauchbier umbrella. Historically, they were lagers, but today there are smoked porters, stouts, pale ales, sours, and everything in between available.
Me: So basically any beer plus smoke flavor? What’s to stop me from selling my own brand of Bud Light plus a shot of Liquid Smoke?
Jessica: Like warlocks are driven by an insatiable need for knowledge, to brew rauchbiers takes dedication and some charisma. To brew a smoked beer that isn’t a disaster is an exercise in balance and marketing savvy. Beer nerds tend to hate rauchbiers, but for real human beings, they makes sense. We’re a bacon and BBQ loving people. Smoke plays if you hit the right flavors and balance. I’ve made smoked beers with fruit, sour smoked beers, and barrel aged sour smoked fruit beers. Each one seemed like it might be too weird, but when you find the food comparisons, people are intrigued to drink a beer that tastes like bacon and pancakes.
Me: I can’t recall ever having seen one of these in the wild. What would you recommend for our warlock players?
Jessica: Aecht Schlenkerla is the standard for rauchbiers. This brewery has been around since 1405, brewing lagers with beechwood smoked malt. Their märzen is pretty much everyone’s reference point for rauchbiers, and I’m a big fan of their smoked doppelbock (it reminds me of smoked gouda). As far as American versions go, Fort Point makes Manzanita, a dark lager brewed with malt smoked over beechwood and manzanita. Alaskan Brewing makes a killer smoked porter that was one of the first US-born rauchbiers. Not all smoked beers are dark–LA-based lager house Enegren Brewing makes a super crushable smoked helles.
Me: You’ve permanently destroyed my spell check with that last paragraph, but it’s a small price to pay. We’ve done it. All D&D base classes have been paired with beers. It’s like finishing Curse of Strahd or Storm King’s Thunder. I think we’re at least level 10 now.
To complete your experience, please check the previous entries.