Some insight from co-Director Scott Owen:
By the pictures posted on this blog of our crew sitting around drinking beer, it seems a miracle that we ever actually filmed anything about beer - let alone produced the feature length documentary Beers of Joy. I assure you we did work hard which made the reward of beer that much sweeter. Much of what you might have discovered by reading some of the earlier posts on the blog are that one must, in life, live in the moment. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matt. 6:34. Being in the moment is biblical. Boom - Microphone - Drop.
It's funny how you can have your mind blown by something that you initially thought might be too strange, too out of the box for you, altogether too different, too... well gross. There I said it. Yes, gross. I think of oysters. Nobody in their right mind would eat an oyster by the looks of them. Am I right? They pretty much look like someone two hundred years ago hocked up the biggest loogey they could cough up and spat it into a clam shell, then let it sit in a dark moist cellar for the next 200 hundred years. I might be exaggerating a little here but the idea of a "smokey beer" just doesn't sound enticing to me. Can I get a good ol' Baptist "Amen"? And so, once again I must bare my judgmental self to all of you. I think we can all see a pattern emerging in my life, I judge before I try. Here I go again... Rauchbier or German smoke beer doesn't sound like my idea of a good time.
You see the passing of time and history are a great measure of quality. Being American we can't go sample a recipe that is hundreds of years old or anywhere close to a millennia. In the scope of empires, countries, and cultures ours is young, really young, pretty much a toddler. We don't have the rich, culture born, time perfected recipes that many other cultures have. So, I often found myself on this beer journey trying something new to me but has been perfected over many centuries by masters of craft. Rauchbier is definitely one of those experiences. Maybe I shouldn't have been all that worried, I have had beer and cigars on numerous occasions which seems similar. Yes and No. Rauchbier's smoky flavor is achieved by letting the smoke of burning beech-wood logs mix with the malt. Then the beer matures in 600 year old cellars, under the hills of Bamberg. You have not been to Bamberg if you haven't had a Rauchbier.
A quote from one of the oldest breweries in Bamberg says it better than I could, "Even if the brew tastes somewhat strange at the first swallow, do not stop, because soon you will realize that your thirst will not decrease and your pleasure will visibly increase." Quote from Schlenkerla Brewery. I concur, like the oyster, most people don't suddenly fall in love with them, it takes a few attempts, then you realize the subtle sweetness playing off the salty. Or coffee... one of my favorite things in life - good black coffee - straight up. But it's something as a little kid you look at your parents and other adults with disgust, "how can you drink that nasty stuff?" Rauchbier, for me, was like that, try some, then try some more, you will begin to recognize the subtle smoky flavor and the sweetness of the malt. Delicious!
The Rauchbier is an acquired taste but like I'm learning from my many stops along the road to making Beers of Joy perfection comes from the hands of masters and is defined by time, much like a sharp stone tumbled over sands for millennia until it is smooth as silk, so also are the many beers found around the world that on the surface don't sound appealing yet at the end of a long hard day, the friends, the food, and sharing that same beer are responsible for some of my best memories.