Tuesday 1 September 2015

DDR Beer Styles (part two)

I realised there’s lots more information in TGL 7764 that’s interesting. Well, to me. I can’t speak for anyone else.

We’ll be looking at some of the more technical aspects. Such as which ingredients, and in which quantities, were required for each style. And stuff like packaging, shelflife and pasteurisation.

Beginning with the ingredients, I can now see a difference between Deutsches Pilsator and Deutsches Pilsner Spezial: the latter contained slightly more malt. Unsurprisingly, low-alcohol beers like Einfachbier and Doppel-Karamelbier have minimal hopping, considerably lower than even Berliner Weisse. The Pilsners and Porter had the heaviest level of hopping. Again, not really a surprise.

The other ingredients are more intriguing. Quite a bit of white sugar in Doppel-Karamelbier. Sugar colouring – I guess some sort of caramel – in Einfachbier, Doppel-Karamelbier and Porter. Plus artificial sweetener in Einfachbier. Don’t think the latter is a particularly DDR thing. They did exactly the same in the West in that class of beer. Unlike in the West, Berliner Weisse had to contain at least 30% wheat malt in the DDR.

I can’t believe this is the first time that I’ve noticed the bit about Dekkera bruxellensis (another name for Brettanomyces bruxellensis) in Porter. In "Leitfaden für den Brauer und Mälzer" (Dickscheit , 1953) has a description of Porter brewing that includes a secondary Brettanomyces fermentation in wood. It says this isn’t necessarily how Porter was brewed in the DDR, but was the proper method for the style. That caveat had me doubting whether Brettanomyces was ever used. This seems to confirm that it was.

DDR beer styles
lagering time (days)
label colour shelf life (days) pasteurised? standard minimum
Einfachbier brown 6 N
Weissbier dark green not specified N
Hell yellow 8 N 20 12
Schwarzbier red and black 15 N
Doppel-Karamelbier blue 30 Y
Deutsches Pilsner light green 10 N 25 15
Diabetiker-Pils white 30 Y
Deutsches Pilsator anything 18 N 50 30
Deutsches Pilsner Spezial anything 90 Y 50 30
Märzen light grey 30 Y
Weißer Bock oder Bockbier Hell wine red 10 N 30 18
Dunkler Bock oder Bockbier Dunkel wine red 10 N 30 18
Deutscher Porter carmine red 24 N
"Technologie für Brauer und Mälzer" by Wolfgang Kunze, 1975, pages 419 -  425.

Now some mostly packaging-related stuff. I love the way labels were colour-coded by style. If you think this is just a totalitarian thing, try taking a look at some modern beer labels. Pilsner ones are often green.

The life expectancy of bottled beer was pretty short. I can remember Eisenacher Hell being particularly unstable. Best to drink it on the way back from the shop. It didn’t matter too much because most beer was consumed close to where it was produced. And, as in the Czech Republic, people didn’t leave beer lying around at home.

The exception to this were the types that were pasteurised. And Berliner Weisse, for which there was no sell by date. As a naturally-conditioned beer, it could last pretty much forever. I’ve had bottles that were over 30 years old and still perfectly drinkable.

The lagering times look very short to me. Though I’m sure they’re longer than most industrial breweries now bother with. 30 days doesn’t seem long for Bock. Personally, I’d go for at least double that, preferably four times.

DDR beer styles
malt kg/hl max min hops g/hl white sugar kg/hl max sugar colouring kg/hl max crystal sweetener g/hl max salt g/hl max special ingredients
Einfachbier 4.5 40 0.2 8
Weissbier 14.5 80 Min. 30% wheat malt, Lactobacillus delbruckii
Hell 17 180
Schwarzbier 19 230
Doppel-Karamelbier 10.5 40 6 0.35
Deutsches Pilsner 20 250
Diabetiker-Pils 18 300
Deutsches Pilsator 20 300
Deutsches Pilsner Spezial 21 300
Märzen 24 240
Weißer Bock oder Bockbier Hell 26 180
Dunkler Bock oder Bockbier Dunkel 26 150
Deutscher Porter 34 500 0.45 100 Dekkera bruxellensis
"Technologie für Brauer und Mälzer" by Wolfgang Kunze, 1975, pages 419 -  425.

Finally, I love this little note about what couldn’t go on a label:

"Fantasy names, which suggest a higher quality, such as:

Edel, Doppel (with the exception of Doppel-Karamelbier), Extra, Exquisit, das Feinste, aus bestem Malz und Hopfen bereitet, are not allowed."
"Technologie für Brauer und Mälzer" by Wolfgang Kunze, 1975, page  426.

There are lots of labels today that would fall foul of that rule.


Tandleman said...

So. Are these HSL numbers on the labels a different set of edicts from the DDR Government?

Martyn Cornell said...

I suspect if you did a survey, "aus bestem Malz und Hopfen bereitet" or its equivalent in other languages would appear on the majority of beer labels. Why are manufacturers so convinced that people are actually impressed by these "motherhood and apple pie" statements? They're not actually stupid people: do they believe that other people ARE stupid?

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, the translation "fantasy" would be more accurately rendered IMO by the term fancy. It has a sense in English nearly lost in popular discourse but preserved in certain technical or specialized vocabularies. One still sees it Canadian food processing legislation, as here: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/processed-products/eng/1393081288925/1393081317512?chap=8

Fancy is a top grade or standard in the canning of apple juice, for example.


Anonymous said...

Are you able to explain more about how the style classifications worked? Was it a case where a brewer just made a beer they thought would sell, and then someone in the governing body decided what style slot to place it in? Or were brewers required to pick a style and brew a beer to fit the definitions? Or considering how restrictive central planners might be, were brewers simply given a selection of beer styles and quantities that they had to make and ship, with no autonomy at all?

Were those definitions exclusive? In other words, were brewers only allowed to make a beer that fit one of those definitions, or would it be possible for someone to make, say, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone (assuming they had the hops and the customers willing to drink it)?

I realize the customer base may not have really wanted any major changes to existing beers, or the economics of the state may not have accommodated much innovation, but I'm curious whether the whole DDR style system was as uptight about styles as the BJCP has been known to be, or if there was some room for flexibility and innovation.

Ron Pattinson said...


I'm not sure, to be honest.

Basically, brewers were expected to make beers in those categories. But it was possible to brew things that fell outside them: Gose, for example. Though I seem to remember when that was first revived. an official document defining it was drawn up. I suspect someone wanting to brew a Sierra Nevada clone would have needed to go through a similar process.

Don't forget that West German brewers weren't allowed to brew what they wanted until the 1990s. The legal classifications of Schankbier, Vollbier and Starkbier didn't cover the full range of gravities. It was illegal to brew anything between 14º and 16º Plato, for example.

J. Karanka said...

Looking at the ingredients the East German bureaucracy was less restrictive than the Reinheitsgebot.