In the background I've been collecting as much data about German beer as I can. As much as I can collect within a reasonable time frame. The set has about 350 beers, mostly from Bavaria. Assigning styles to them has been fun. And by definition, to a certain extent arbitrary. I thought to myself "Why not check up the official German style definitions?" So I have done. No, it's not the BJCP deinitions. I've opted for those of the Deutscher Brauer-Bund, the German brewers' trade organisation. They should know what they're talking about, shouldn't they?
I'll admit that it's a pretty slimmed down set. They've lumped together plenty of things I would have split apart - the different colours of Hefeweizen, for example, and Lager Hell and Export Hell. And it's odd they've not bothered with a separate entry for Doppelbock, which is defined in German law.
What I'll be doing is to compare the specs I've harvested with the definitions of the Deutscher Brauer-Bund. I doubt there will be any huge disconnect because of the restrictions on gravity for certain types of beer. For example, any beer in a Vollbier style cannot have a gravity below 11º Plato, while a Bock must be above 16º Plato.
Here's the Deutscher Brauer-Bund's schema:
|Modern German beer styles|
|Berliner Weisse||Schankbier||7 to 8||2.8|
|Lager dunkel||Voll- or Schankbier||10 to 12||4.6-5.1||min 50% dark malt|
|Export dunkel||Vollbier||12 to 14||5.1-5.6||min 50% dark malt|
|Lager hell||Voll- or Schankbier||10 to 12||4.6-5.1|
|Export hell||Vollbier||12 to 14||5.1-5.6|
|Weizenbier||Vollbier||11 to 14||5.4|
|Leichtbier||Voll- or Schankbier||7 to 12||2-3.2|
|Kellerbier/ Kräusenbier/Zwickelbier/Zoigl||Vollbier||11 to 14||4.5-5.5|
|Rauchbier||Vollbier||11 to 14||4.5-5.5|
The distinction between Lagerbier Hell and Export Hell seems to have been pretty much eroded. Many are just called Helles by the brewery no matter what their gravity. Overall, I've not too many arguments with their definitions.
Their list of styles I've identified in my 350 sample beers is a little bit longer:
Kellerbier DunkelKellerbier, Bernstein
Though many of my extra entries are due to splitting a style like Bock into substyles and including foreign styles like Pale Ale and IPA.
This is all going to be handy background information for my slow trawl through the style numbers. I won't claim it'll be great fun, but it will be educational.
First under the microscope will be Helles. Or Lager Hell as I should really call it. Lager Hell - sounds like being in a pub that only sells Carling and Tennents