We've had dry beers, ice beers, ultra light beers, lime beers, and now smoked beers! A friend of mine used to say that the reason he could bounce back after a night of imbibing was"Smoke and mirrors". The new craze is smoked beer. Let's see what that's all about.

According to an article by Rachel Tepper, Associate Food Editor on yahoo.com:

"Before the technological advances of the early 19th century, all beer was smoked, which meant a meaty, barbecued flavor in every beer, at every festivity.

These days, smoked beers are all the heck over the place; several American brewers have released new ones over the last two decades.

We asked Pat Fahey, the youngest of the world’s seven master cicerones (think: sommelier, but for beer), to explain the difference between smoked and not-so-smoked beer:

"When you go through the malting process, the last step is a drying and roasting stage," Fahey explained. "Because [brewers before the 19th century] were doing that with direct heat, it would impart a smoky flavor to the malt." Brewers eventually discovered a way to roast the malt without using direct heat, using a kiln to keep the malt farther from the flames, and mainstream beer lost its smoky flavor.

Of the smoked brews currently available, Fahey digs the Smoked Porter from Stone Brewing Company*, which was at the forefront of the current revival.

He also likes a smoked rye doppelbock whimsically named “Charkoota Rye" from New Holland Brewing."

* Stone Brewing Company is one of the breweries who will be at "Utica On Tap" on March 22nd at the Stanley Theater.