Nothing evokes fall better than smell of burning leaves — or perhaps a sip of Sam Adams’s latest seasonal beer. The new entry in the Harvest Collection 12-pack is a strangely satisfying brew. It’s well-named too. Bonfire Rauchbier tastes like a bonfire, as though the beer has been left all day in a hot smokehouse. It’s hard to believe a beer can contain this much smokiness, but that quality is due to the specialty smoked malts. Rauchbiers, which date to the 16th century, were made with malts that had been dried for days over beechwood fires. It’s typically of dark color and has some similarities to Oktoberfest ales. My 12-ounce bottle of Bonfire pours perfectly into a chilled pint glass. This beer has a rich, dark garnet red color with a lumpy, brownish, one-finger head. Lacing is thick and lingers for a good while. Definitely smoky. I also smell peat and fruity smoke that stands out over a slight hint of apple. Very little hop character comes to me. Not overly strong yet balanced with some sweetness. It’s actually more muted than in some other Rauchbiers I’ve had, but still smells delicious. The taste is mostly — you guessed it — smoky, but sweet flavors burst forth, coating the palate in a manner that is reminiscent of chocolate melting in my mouth. There is virtually no hop character, but definitely hints of caramel and toffee sweetness that blend well into the malt creaminess. I must add that it’s pretty smooth. Bonfire’s mouthfeel has a decent lingering smokiness on the tongue. A sneaky bit of the noble Spalt Spalter hop character comes thorough toward the end. I can taste a slight bitterness at the back of my tongue. A pretty nice finish with nothing harsh. Theabove average alcohol content of 5.7% doesn’t overpower either. I like this Sam Adams Bonfire brew for its simple smokiness that’s not an aggressive smoked-meat taste. In my opinion, too much smoke ruins a beer, but this selection retains the smooth and sweet flavors you find in a good amber. It’s an excellent brew and perfect for the beginner to this style. A very nice change from the other brews I typically drink around this season and one I will drink again before fall comes to an end.