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The History Of Beer Poking

Beer poking is an age-old tradition which dates back more than 400 years ago. It was quite popular in the colonial era where a combination of heat and alcohol was preferred during the cold winters. When Colonial Americans were sitting by the campfires in winter, they had discovered that a fire poker, which looks like a short rod, can be used to warm up their beers.

In Europe, the process of beer poking is a heritage and usually takes place in early Spring when the bock beers hit the shelves. During the winter, people gather around bonfire for a warm beer poking session. It is a common sight in Northern Europe. It is known as ‘Bier Stacheln’ which translates to beer spiking in Germany.


The “Bierstacheln“ tradition has a historical background. Back in the day, beer was often too cold to drink directly in the winter months. Apparently, it was the blacksmiths who had come up with the idea to stir the beer with a poker and heat the beer to drinking temperature. Today, the entire process is more hygienic with purposefully made spikes. Bier Stacheln, pronounced as “beer shta-hll”, is a tiny metal stick that is heated to about 600°C and immersed into the beer for a few seconds.

Bierstacheln. Image Courtesy: Bier Entdecker

So, what exactly happens when a hot metal rod is plunged into the beer? As we all know, post fermentation, there are residual malt sugars which are leftover in the beer. The hot metal rod instantaneously caramelizes these complex sugars and brings out more concentrated malt character to the forefront. Post this, the beer is no longer cold but develops a marshmallow-like toasted character and is pleasantly soft/creamy on the palate.

Recommended Beer Styles For Hot Poker

Hot beer poker only works best with the beer styles that are malt forward. Malty rich styles such as Doppelbock, Belgian Dark Strong Ale etc., would serve to be an ideal choice. While you’re at it, It is recommended to not dip the stick for more than 4-5 seconds as it will drive-off the remaining carbon dioxide and make the beer flat and foamy. Stir slowly and smoothly in a circular motion and avoid aggressive strokes.

A hot poker plunged into a Doppelbock. Image Courtesy: Bier Entdecker

Drinking a foamy and warm beer may sound unusual but it’s a delightful experience which has been there since ages. Hot poker beer definitely serves up as a dessert after a hearty meal.