The Mad Scientist series is back with another nearly forgotten style—the German Lichtenhainer. Reminiscent of the Grätzer, but more of a combination of a Berliner Weiss and Rauchbier, the Lichtenhainer is a sour smoked ale style from villages around Jena, Germany. The brew reached the height of its popularity in the 19th century, before petering out to near extinction in recent times.
A few historical records exist for the Lichtenhainer, but there are conflicting reports as to recipe specifications. Some call for an all-barley recipe, some for a generous addition of wheat, and some fall in between. The souring method and timing also has a number of contentions. But one thing is clear, the Lichtenhainer is one wild, smoky and sour brew.
Rather than achieving bitter-sweet harmony, in the Lichtenhainer, sour and smoke coalesce to push and pull on your palate in dizzying fashion. Big smoke on the nose, puckering sour at the finish. Savory and satisfying, sour and refreshing.
Our Lichtenhainer interpretation is part barley, part wheat, with a smoky and funky the nose. The taste is different– mostly clean and sour, with a touch of grungy funk and smoke. A light to medium, wheaty body and clean finish make it a suprisingly quaffable brew with massive complexity.
The Lichtenhainer is a supremely elusive style, only produced commercially by a few breweries across the globe. Get your hands on one while you can.