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The 14 Most Popular German Beer Styles Online - ABK Brewer's Guide

 

(Estimated reading time 21 Minutes or 1.5 beers 🍻 

What makes German Beers So Popular 

Germany's passion for well-made, tasty beer is no secret. Yet when it comes to buying German beer online, many people have wondered why are there so many German beer names?

Well here at the ABK Brewery, we have put a descriptive list together to help you with your next beer delivery. Listed below are some of the most popular German beers available in the UK but also some underrated beers that you’ll be glad to have discovered. This beer guide is also comprehensive list of the most popular styles of german beer.

Different types of german beer ready for oktoberfest

 

Hell or ‘Helles’

Let’s start the list with Bavarian Hell Beer, one of the most famous German beers that are quickly becoming more and more popular to the rest of the world. As our ABK Hell Beer is one of the most popular in the U.K we've learnt a thing or two along the way.

What is Hell or Helles beer?

Simply put Hell beer is easy drinking, light Bavarian beer. Essentially it is a lager and very similar to a pilsner. This beer is beloved in german as a refreshing, thirst-quenching drink on a hot, summer evening. In German, Helles means ‘pale or light’, which nicely sums up the colour and taste of this type of beer.

In-depth: Unlike a classic lager, hell is more well rounded and full-bodied. Not familiar with these terms yet? This refers to the thickness or weight of a beer. For example, Hell beer is a ‘full-bodied’ beer meaning it has a thicker consistency. Hells beer differs in taste slightly to traditional lager as it fills your mouth with soft, mellow malty flavour that ever so slightly reminiscent of fresh-baked bread. Other but more subtle flavours are notes of sweetness to counterbalance the very slightly spicy and bitter taste that famously comes from german Munich hops. This is the reason that Helles beer is the perfect style of german beer for a boiling hot day as it’s light crisp and refreshing. 

Where Does Hell Beer Come from?

Compared to other German beers this style of beer is relatively new, only being created around munich in the late 1800s because bavarian brewers wanted to take on the beloved Czech pilsner. Because of this the taste is very similar, the main difference is that Hells is much maltier and breadier. 

What is the difference between Hell and a pilsner?

It is the area where they are from Hell is from Bavaria, Germany whereas pilsner was created in the Czech city of Pilsen. This also influences the taste. Hell is much maltier and hoppier whereas pilsner often has a slight spicy hoppy undertone.

Young man drinks ABK Hell Beer at home

(ABK Hell beer is one of the oldest Helles in the world)

Altbier

Like Kölsch beer, Altbier is an old-style German lager beer made by fermenting the yeast on the top rather than on the bottom. Typically found in the northwest region of Westphalia, Altbier is particularly popular in and around Düsseldorf.

What is Altbier?

Usually, a dark copper colour Altbier is a top-fermented beer that is crafted at a moderate temperature. This gives Altbier a slightly fruity flavour and a crispness when aged in cold cellars. Taste-wise, Altbier is very similar to a British pale ale. Top-fermented Altbier can strike a balance between hop, malt flavours, and aromas but can have low fruity esters and a flowery hops aroma. Before Germany had lager style beer, ales were far more prevalent. Alt, which means "old" in German, pays homage to a region of the country that was slow to embrace cold-fermented lagers.

Where does Altbier come from?

Altbier has always been associated with the lower Lower Rhine region of Germany, where it is drunk in the towns of Düsseldorf, Krefeld, and Mönchengladbach. The first brewery to use the name "Alt" was Düsseldorf's Schumacher brewery in 1838. Very little Altbier is drunk in other parts of Germany. Unlike in Bavaria, where people were limited to the time of year when they could brew beer, the colder weather in the north allowed brewers to brew all year. Thus, a separate brewing culture of top-fermented beers came about to give is Altbier in Düsseldorf and Kölsch beer in Cologne.

What is the difference between Altbier and Pilsner?

Altbier is top-fermented, while Pilsner beer is bottom-fermented. colourwise, Altbier looks like the colour of copper, while Pilsner beer has a much paler straw-like appearance. Tastewise Altbier is similar to a British pale ale and has a fruity flavour, whereas Pilsner is more bitter with a spicy hops taste.

Is altbier an ale or a lager?

Altbier is an ale but only just. Technically it is both but let me explain... Altbier is hundreds of year old, way before we had lager and ales 'classes' in fact in german it literally means 'old beer.' There are a few differences between ales and lagers, these are the main three 1. Ales are top fermented and lager bottom fermented. 2. This means a difference yeast is used depending on which you want 3. It also means a different temperature is used depending on the method. Altbier throws the rule book out the window. It is top fermenting - Ale. It uses a common ale yeast - ale. It uses colder temperatures - lager. That's 2-1 on the ale lager scoreboard. 

A glass of dark colored altbier

(A typical looking altbier)

Dunkel or ‘Dunkelweizen’

Dunkel like hell is one of the most popular beers in Germany, yet there are many misconceptions abount Dunkel. Let’s dive right into them.

What is German Dunkel Beer?

Simply put: The word “Dunkel” means “dark” in German and that is exactly what a Dunkel beer is, typically a dark German lager that is usually accompanied by smooth and malty tones with hints of caramel flavour.

In-Depth: It gets confusing because Dunkel literally means ‘dark’ so Dunkel can include all types of German beer that are dark. For example, if you ferment a dark lager with wheat it is called a Dunkelweizen  (Literally Meaning Dark Wheat). However, for centuries there was one very popular dark beer in Bavaria and this classical taste is usually what we mean when we refer to Dunkel. This classic Dunkel is also not a wheat beer, which is a common misconception.

This classic Dunkel has a dark appearance ranging from reddish mahogany to deep brown and has a malty smooth taste that is accompanied by biscuit, caramel and chocolate tone. Does that sound delicious? Shop our ABK Dunkel Online, one of the oldest in the world!

Is Dunkel A Lager?

The classic Dunkel, the one enjoyed in Germany for centuries is simply a lager, our ABK Dunkel beer is a good example of this. However, in a broader sense, Dunkel literally means ‘dark’ in german so technically you could have Dunkel ale but this would not be the classic style that people are usually referring too.

Is Dunkel a wheat beer?

No Dunkel is not a wheat beer. The classic Dunkel is simply a dark lager. However, if you add some wheat grains into the fermenting process it is easily turned into a ‘Dunkelweizen’ which literally means ‘dark wheat’ or called ‘Dunkel weissbier’ (Dark Wheat Beer.) However this is a different style altogether to the standard ‘Dunkel.’

ABK Dunkel Beer Online

(Dunkel is a dark German beer)

Marzen Beer or 'Festbier'

Marzen or Festbier as it now called (or Märzenbier in German) refers to a Bavarian lager that was originally served at the first Munich Oktoberfest. Marzen has a medium to full body and varies in colour from pale amber to dark brown. After 1952 Marzen lost its appeal and was replaced with a strong golden-coloured Hells beer or Helles, generally this new delicious german beer is now called Festbier just like our ABK Festbier. While Marzen is no longer sold during Oktoberfest in Munich, it can be found at other Oktoberfest celebrations held in the United States.

What is Marzen Beer?

Whilst Marzen is a beer with a malty taste and a balance of clean hops, its bitterness is similar in style to a Vienna lager. Originating in Germany, Marzen is known for its toasted bread-like aroma and flavour. Traditionally brewed during March, hence its name, Marzen is aged over the summer and enjoyed during the autumn.

Marzen style can be described as a full-bodied beer with a malty flavour and a clean, dry finish. In Germany, Marzen is similar to a Helles beer and has a pale amber to dark brown colour. Common names for Marzen beer include Oktoberfestbier, Festbier, Marzenbier, and Wiener Marzen, which refers to the beer brewed in Austria. Marzen's Austrian version tends to be much paler than its German counterpart and a little sweeter due to caramel malts. The beer is also brewed in the Czech Republic where it is referred to as 14° Světlé Speciální Pivo, Polotmavé Speciální Pivo, and Tmavé Speciální Pivo. Each of the three varieties refers to a light, medium, and dark beer. Polish brewery Żywiec also produces a Marzen style beer that they call "Marcowe".

Where does Marzen beer come from?

Marzen beer is believed to have originated in Bavaria before the 16th century. In 1553 a Bavarian brewing ordinance decreed that beer could only be brewed between St. Michael's Day ( 29 September) and St. Georges Day (23 April). Marzen beer was typically brewed during March, which is how it got its name. Marzen always has a slightly higher alcohol content and was brewed using more hops to age over the summer and be drunk during Oktoberfest.

What makes a beer a Marzen?

Unlike Pilsen beers that are more often a pale yellow colour and finish with a sharp snap of floral hops, whereas Marzen beer can also be much darker in colour and more malt driven. As mentioned, the Marzen ‘style’ was traditionally brewed in the spring (As “Marzen” means “March”) and left to appropriately age, or be lagered, throughout the summer months

Marzen or festbier beer is a darker colour  (Marzen or Festbier ranges in colour from pale amber to dark brown.)

Kölsch

Brewed with top-fermenting yeast and then conditioned at a cold temperature like a lager, the brewing process for Kölsch beer is similar to that of Düsseldorf's altbier.

What is Kölsch Beer?

With its strange fermentation process, Kölsch is an easy-drinking beer with a delicate fruity profile. Made from spicy German hops, Kölsch beer has a pale malt presence with about 5% ABV.

Kölsch beer is unique because it can only be brewed in the vicinity of the northern German city of Cologne and brewed according to the strict Kölsch Konvention laid down by the Cologne Brewery Association. Kölsch is a very pale looking beer with an attenuated, bright hoppy flavour that is always perfectly clear and never cloudy.

Where does Kölsch beer come from?

When bottom-fermented beer first appeared in Cologne in the early 17th century, its popularity threatened the city brewers' business interests as they only produced top-fermented beers. To help protect them from the competition in 1603, the town council forced the city's brewers to swear an oath only to make their beers using top quality ingredients and never use bottom-fermenting yeast. As bottom-fermented beers from outside the town continued to gain favor, Cologne brewers started aging the beer in cold cellars similar to how bottom-fermented beer was made.

Following World War II, many breweries managed to re-establish themselves but could still not compete with other German bottom-fermented beers. Slowly as German beer-drinking habits changed and the old corner bars could not compete, small breweries started to close, leaving just 13 breweries in and around to produce  Kölsch beer today. 

What is the difference between Kölsch beer and a Pilsner?

Despite being made using different yeasts, Kölsch beer and a Pilsner beer look very similar with a pale straw-like golden colour and frothy white head. Pilsner beers tend to be slightly on the dry side, whereas kölsches are soft and creamier. Because both beers are made using the cold lager process, they both have a nice crisp finish.

(Kölsch beer has delicate fruit profile with a pale malt appearance.)

Kellerbier

Translated into English, Kellerbier means "cellar beer" and is a German lager style beer that has been brewed since the Middle Ages. 

What is Kellerbier Beer?

When first produced, brewers lacked any refrigeration and would typically make Kellerbier during the cold winter months and store beer barrels in caves. The caves' stable, cold temperatures would allow the beer to slowly ferment before being ready for drinking.

Never clarified or pasteurized, Kellerbier contains more of its original brewing yeast and vitamins. The result of this is that Kellerbier is naturally cloudy and often served straight out of the barrel. Because Kellerbier is not pasteurized, it does age well and is best drunk as fresh as possible. It also makes it closer in taste to what some of the earliest european beers would have tasted like in the middle ages

Where does Kellerbier Beer come from?

Kellerbier Beer originated in Franconia, an area of Germany mostly in Bavaria north and south of the River Main. The region's largest cities are Würzburg, Nuremberg, and Bamberg.

To summarize, what is a Keller beer or kellerbier?

Kellerbier is a type of German-Pilsner-style lager just fresher and unfiltered. Because it is not filtered, it comes off as being a lot hoppier and has a little bit of a sulfur-like aroma.

A Pint of cloudy unfiltered German Kellerbier

(Kellerbier is similar to beer made in the middle ages)

Pilsner (Pils)

German Pilsner style beer, referred to as Pils in Germany, is a light-bodied lager beer that is bottom-fermented and brewed using 100% barley malt. Pils is defined as being a golden-coloured, slightly bitter beer with excellent head retention and a lovely floral hoppy aroma.

What is Pilsner?

Pils, along with its famous Czech namesake, is the forerunner of the original Pilsner beer first brewed in 1848. Pils is the ancestor of every lager beer brewed today, from American Budweiser to Dutch Heineken; all lager beers are based on the original Pilsen. Pils style beer was invented in Bohemia by a Bavarian-born brewer from a town near Passau in Germany. Simplicity is the key to Pils success bottom brewed using a combination of lager yeast and pilsner malt. Lightly kilned malted barley, spicy hops, and soft water are all that is need for a skilled brewer to make Pils style beer. A Pils style beer should always have a straw-like colour, a frothy white head, and have a distinct aroma of hops.

Where does Pilsner come from?

In the mid-1800s, Bohemia was full of German immigrants who founded a city-owned brewery in the town of Pilsen to brew Bavarian-style bottom-fermented beer. To do this and be successful, they recruited a Bavarian brewer named Josef Groll. For Groll, the area's remarkably soft water and local Saaz noble hops combined with the latest malt to come out of Britain allowed him to create a clear golden-coloured beer.

Immensely popular from the get-go, the beer took off in Prague and spread to Vienna, Paris, and other parts of Europe. Rather than import the beer from Pilsen, the popularity of the beer got other breweries to copy Groll's recipe and produce what is arguably the most widely drunk beer type in the world.

What is the difference between a pilsner and a lager?

Firstly to clarify, Pils and Pilsner are one of the same, with Pils the beer's preferred name in Germany. While breweries may call their beer "lager," Pils is just one beer style within the larger family of beers, including amber and darker beers. Pils may well be the world standard for what lager drinkers expect, with a cool crisp taste and a frothy white head.

A tall glass of pale colored German pilsner beer

(A pilsner is a crisp pale coloured lager beer)

Schwarzbier Or 'Black Beer'

Similar to stouts, Schwarzbier, or black beer, is a dark lager beer that originated in Germany. It tends to have a distinct black opaque colour and gives off a hint of coffee or chocolate. The beer gets its dark colour because it is made from roasted malt.

What is Schwarzbier?

Of the so-called black beers, Stouts are by far the most common, but only one beer uses the designation "Black" in its name. This beer is, of course, Schwarzbier brewed in Germany. One of the oldest styles of beer ever made, Schwarzbier is a deep-red black beer that exhibits all the characteristics of a traditional German lager that is slowly once more gaining popularity with beer drinkers.

Schwarzbier is made using a cool fermentation process even though historically, they were produced using warm fermentation. The beer gets its dark colour from the roasted malt giving it an alcohol content of 4.4% to 5.4%. When drinking Schwarzbier, don't expect it to taste like a stout as its roasted bitterness is somewhat restrained. You can expect a light malty character with a hint of roast and hop bitterness on the finish.

Where does Schwarzbier come from?

German Schwarzbier can trace its roots back to the Middle Ages with the first mention of it being a beer called Braunschweiger Mumme in 1390. First brewed in Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Schwarzbier is still produced by many East German breweries today.

What does Black beer taste like?

Schwarzbier is a moderately carbonated beer with no harshness despite the roasted malts; it is also one of the lightest dark beers you are ever likely to drink. ABK Schwarzbier is a good choice for those that may want a bit more intensity to their beer, yet are still looking for a refreshing lager experience.

A glass of dark coloured German Schwarzbier beer

(Schwarzbier has a distinct black opaque colour and gives off a hint of coffee or chocolate)

Bock

Amber to brown, traditional Bock is a strong malty German lager that weighs in at around 6% or 7% ABV. Traditional Bock sits right in the middle of several Bock beer styles that range in colour from relatively light to quite dark.

What is Bock?

One of the Bock beer styles includes a light-coloured beer called Maibock to a relatively dark Doppelbock and Eisbock.

Traditional Bock is a relatively strong, slightly sweet beer that should be clear and range in colour from a light copper to brown with a persistent off-white head. Taste and aroma-wise Bock should be toasty and malty with a slight alcohol hint but have no hoppy fruitfulness signs. Slightly carbonated with no astringency, Bock should taste rich and toasty with just enough bitterness not to provide a sweet aftertaste.

Maibock is a Helles lager brewed to Bock strength with more carbonation and a more significant hops presence. Frequently associated with spring and the month of May, Maibock can range in colour from light amber to a deep gold but always have a creamy head. The flavours of Maibock are less malty than the traditional Bock while being hoppier, dryer, and more bitter.

First brewed by Franciscan Paulaner Friers Doppelbock ( Double Bock) served as bread during times of fasting. Doppelbock's colour is usually a dark brown with ruby highlights with a large creamy head. Doppelbock, with high alcohol content, may not have such a consistent head as lower alcohol versions.

Traditionally brewed in Bavaria's Kulmbach region, Eisbock is produced by partially freezing the beer and then removing water ice to leave a more concentrated flavour. Eisbock varies in colour from a deep copper to a dark brown because of its high alcohol content; Eisbock has a thin off-white head.

Where does Bock come from?

Historically associated with special occasions and festivals like Christmas, Eisbock was first brewed in the Lower Saxon town of Einbeck in the 14th century. The beer was later taken up by brewers in Munich during the 17th century and adapted to a lager brewing beer style. Because of their strong Bavarian accents, Einbock in Bavarian sounds like you ask for "ein bock," which is a goat. For this reason, you often find a picture of a goat on Eisbock beer labels.

Is Bock a lager?

Bock is a bottom fermenting lager that usually sits lagering (in cold storage) for longer. Often done in the winter months to soften the intense flavors that develop during the brewing process. Bock is typically stronger than your average lager.

A cold glass of dark german bock beer

(Traditional Bock is a relatively strong, slightly sweet beer that should be clear and range in colour from a light copper)

Dortmunder Export

Often referred to as Export or Dortmunder, Dortmunder Export is a soft-textured beer styled after the original lager beer brewed in Pilsen.

What is Dortmunder Export?

In a treatise on lager beers by Fred Eckhard first published in 1969, he believed that Dortmunder Export is distinctive enough to be classified as a distinct lager beer.

Beer experts Michael Jackson and Roger Protz continued the trend even though they were uneasy with what made it a unique beer in its own right. The European-style Dortmund export has the malt and sweetness of a German Helles beer with the crisp bitter base of a Pilsner. All about the right balance, Dortmunder export has a firm but low malt sweetness married with a medium hop character. When drinking Dortmunder export, you can expect spicy floral hop and toasted malt aromas. Brewers producing Dortmunder Export outside of Germany tend to brew a pale lager with a much softer rounded character than the original Dortmunder Export.

Where does Dortmunder Export come from?

The name is a bit of a giveaway as Dortmunder export was first brewed in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia region in the city of Dortmund. Styled after Pilsner, the brew was invented as a thirst quencher for local industrial workers. 

What is the difference between Dortmunder Export and Pilsner?

While having some of a Pilsner beer's characteristics, Dortmunder export is darker with a more significant body but less bitter. Meanwhile, most blonde lagers have an alcohol content of around 4% Dortmunder export ranges from 5 to 6% ABV.

Bartender pour an ABK edel a type of export lager (ABK Edel is a type of german beer called export lager)

Hefeweizen (Witbier)

Hefe is the German word for "yeast" and weizen the German word for "wheat," so put the two words together, and you have Hefeweizen. While many people refer to this type of beer as "white beer," they are, in fact, unfiltered wheat beer with yeast. The yeast gives the beer a very cloudy look while the wheat adds extra bitterness to its flavour.


What is Hefeweizen beer?

German-style Hefeweizen is unique in that it breaks from the traditional beer mode with its hazy, unfiltered appearance. Full of yeast-driven fruity spiciness and an eye-catching mystery, Hefeweizen is a favorite amongst beer enthusiasts.

Brewed using at least 50% malted wheat, Hefeweizen is a top-fermented beer with a straw to amber colour and an aroma and flavour driven mainly by the yeast.

The flavour's intensity depends mostly on the brewer but is decidedly fruity and can have hints of banana and cloves. Highly carbonated, Hefeweizen contains low to moderate alcohol content and is the most popular of all the German weissbiers. Like most German beers, they always taste best when freshly poured at a brewery and Hefeweizen (Witbier) is no exception. ABK Hefeweizen is top fermented, with specific fruity aromas. The Hefeweizen is a lively and full-bodied beer. With a wonderful honey yellow colour and a strong foam generation,

Where does Hefeweizen come from?

Weizenbier or Hefeweizen is traditionally brewed in Bavaria, where brewers replace much of the malted barley for malted yeast. History shows us that the first weissbier brewery was built in the 15th century. Owned by the noble Degenberger family in the village of Schwarzach, the beer was allowed to continue even though it did not comply with the 1516 Reinheitsgebot purity law. 

Is Hefeweizen a light beer?

While the word Hefe is German for yeast, Weizen means wheat. Therefore, Hefeweizen is traditionally a unfiltered wheat beer that contains yeast. It’s the wheat that creates a more refreshing crispness & light body. While ABK Hefeweizen is top fermented, it has fruity aromas, a honey yellow colour with natural yeast cloudiness.

A pint of abk hefeweizen and a pint of duknel

(Hefeweizen although Paler in color is traditionally unfiltered which makes it appear slightly darker than it is)

Starkbier

Starkbier is the generic German word for strong beer. For a beer to be called a Starkbier, it must have a wort content of at least 16% and an alcohol content of 7.5% or more. 

What is Starkbier?

Unlike other beers that have a specific name, Starkbier refers to any really strong German beer. To be classified as a Starkbier, the beer must have a wort content of at least 16%. In other words, for every 100 grams, the beer must contain 16% nutrients. As a rule of thumb, the higher the beer's wort, the more alcohol it will have. To ensure that the beer maintains a balance, around a third of the original wort should reflect the alcohol content. For example, Munich's Paulaner Brewery produces a strong beer called "Salvator" with an original wort content of 18.3 ° P and an alcohol content of 7.5%. 

Colourwise, nearly all Starkbier’s have a chestnut brown colour with a caramel-coloured head. Starkbier's, like Paulaner Salvator, has a seductive chocolate flavour thanks to the finest Munich malt, complemented by a light note of hops in the background.

Where does Starkbier come from?

The origin of Starkbier can be traced back to the 17th century when Paulaner Monks in Bavaria invented a strong bottom-fermenting double bock. The idea behind the strong beer was that it would replace bread during the 40 days of Lent. Bavarian nobles took a liking to this strong beer in the early 1700s, and it is now produced by most of Bavaria's breweries.


What is the difference between Starkbier and Pilsner?

Starkbier are bottom-fermented strong double bock beers that taste very malty with a high alcohol content. Starkbier tends to be the kind of beer you sip rather than guzzle and often reflect the original Paulaner Salvator by having a name that ends in -"ator."

German Pilsner beer is much paler than Starkbier with a straw to golden colour and slightly more than half the alcohol content found in most Starkbier. Pilsner beers also have a thick foamy head and a bitter taste ideally suited to thirst-quenching on a hot summer day.

A stein of stauncbier a copper colored german lager

(Starkbier is often copper colered in apperance)

Radler

While Radler beer has similarities to shandy, it has a 50/50 mix of lager and a carbonated fruit beverage. On the other hand, Shandy is almost always composed of beer and lemonade and tends to have a higher alcohol content than Radler as it is mostly beer. ABK Radler is a perfect mix of Edel and Organic Leo Lemonade which is also made by ABK.


What is Radler?

Radler originated from a drink created by an innkeeper called Franz Kugler and translates as "cyclist." Always made using lager, a Radler is a combination of equal amounts of beer and a carbonated fruit beverage. While almost always lemonade, Radler can be made using any carbonated fruit drink. 


Where does Radler come from?

During a significant boom in bike riding during the 1920s, the enterprising Kugler created a bike path from Munich to his inn located in the small town of Deisenhofen. The story goes that on one sunny day in June 1922, as many as 13,000 bike riders arrived at Kugler's drinking establishment. Not prepared for so many customers and quickly running out of beer, Kugler decided to mix the beer 50/50 with lemonade, and the rest is history.


How much alcohol is in a Radler?

Most Radler beers produced by breweries have an alcohol content anywhere between 2.5% and 4 % making them an ideal summer drink. ABK Radler is 2.8% ABV and is a refreshing drink any time of the year.

ABK Radler is more of a thirst-quenching beer mixed drink made of 50% special beer Edel and 50% ABK’s own lemonade. The use of our malty and strong Edel makes this Radler particularly tasty. A tankard of ABK radler with a bottle of beer next to it

(ABK Radler is a 50/50 mix of Hell and organic lemonade)

Rauchbier

Rauchbier is the german smoked beer with a rich history 


What is Rauchbier?

Rauchbier is a German lager with a distinctly smoked taste due to the malted barley being dried over an open flame.

Unlike the novelty beer that it is today, Rauchbier was commonplace before British engineer Daniel Wheeler invented the drum kiln in 1818. All the drying had to be done over and open flame before then, which gave the fermented beer a smokey taste. For the malt masters and brewers of the day, this smokiness was an unwanted element that they wanted to get rid of. The Rauchbier's flavour was determined by which type of fuel was used in the drying process. Different types of wood would impart its flavour such as wood straw, with the least popular source being coal because of its expense. 

In Germany, brewers only used wood during the drying process.

Rauchbier is usually based on a Märzen recipe and should display a light copper to dark brown colour with a cream-colour creamy, thick head. The aroma is likened to a smokey bacon-like smell with the beer tasting of malt and of course smokiness.

Where does Rauchbier come from?

Despite the malt kiln's invention, two breweries in the northern Bavarian town of Bamburg continued making Rauchbier by dring the malt over an open flame. Both breweries still produce Rauchbier today using beechwood logs for fuel. Thus, Bamberg has become associated with smoked beer and is often referred to in Germany as Bamberg Rauchbier. As the two remaining breweries globally continued producing Rauchbier in the traditional way, the Schlenkerla and Spezial breweries were added to the Slow Food Movements Ark of Taste.


What is the difference between Rauchbier and Pilsner?

Rauchbier is rare to find these days except in microbreweries who specialize in obscure beers. Rauchbier is a savory almost akin to food and is something you will either love or hate. Pilsner beers are commonplace with a crispness and bitter element that everyone loves.

A Glass of rauchbier poured into an ABK glass(A cold rauchbier poured into an ABK glass)

ABK is one of the oldest breweries in the world

To say we've been around for a while would be an understatement. At over 700 years old we've seen kingdoms fall, a renaissance, lived through the dark ages, survived the black plague, watched countries form (we're looking at you America 👀) and two world wars. But all this time has really helped us perfect our craft, we may be biased (although the gold and silver awards at the world beer championships back us up) but we think we've perfected several styles of german beer

(Try Our ABK Beer, Authentic German Styles that are mentioned in the article above.) 

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