Earlier in 2015, Napoleone Brewers invited the Ale Stars from the Local Taphouse in St Kilda to join them for a brew day. Typically, these events end up producing something heaving with hops. But, given that's not really the way brewer Ben at the Yarra Valley brewery rolls, instead they went in a completely different direction and ended up brewing a Rauchbier, AKA a smoked beer of the sort popularised by the brewers of Germany's Bamberg region.
The beer got a lot of love at Good Beer Week and GABS and thus has been brewed again, to the point that it's now also been released in bottle. The smoked malt used in the beer doesn't come from Bamberg, however, but popular specialty malt supplier Gladfield of NZ, who supplied some of their Manuka Smoke variety for the lager-based brew.
While the brewer's notes talk of "ham hock and smoked bacon sweetness", we get less of that meaty side of things found in some rauchbiers and instead characters that lean towards sweet, woody smoke, backed up by soft, spicy hops both on the nose and to taste. It pours an enticing, bright rusty copper colour and, following the smoke and soft, sweet malts, has a drying, almost tannic finish.