Thursday 2 March 2017

German top-fermenting beers classified

I'm lucky enough to regularly have material pointed at or sent to me. It's dead handy and can save me a lot of time.

Today I was sent an ebook by Benedikt Rausch. And I'm very grateful. Because it's a book dedicated to German top-fermenting styles. Just before most of disappeared. It includes a handy guide to the different types:

I. Einfache and Süssbiere (Einfach, Kleinbier, Scheps, Hansla, Erntebier) of 2-3.% Balling and 5-7°% B. original gravity.
II. Weizenbieze: Weisse, Broyhan, Mumme‚etc.
III. Bitter Lagerbier-like beers: Kölner, Düsseldorfer beers of 10-12 % Ball.
IV. Smoky tasting beers: Grätzer, Lichtenhainer, Köstritzer.
V. Sour tasting beers; Döllnitzer Gose und Belgische Biere.
VI. Spontaneously-fermented beers: Danziger Jopenbier, Brüsseler Lambic, etc.
VII. English beers rich in extract and foam such as: Ale, Stout, Porter and Spruce, which interest us less.
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell", 1907, page 58. (My translation.)
I find some of the categorisations a bit strange, such as Mumme as a wheat beer. Also Broyhan, now I think about it, as it was also brewed from 100% barley malt sometimes.

But most intriguing is the inclusion of  Köstritzer, which is now a bottom-fermenting beer. I had heard rumours that it was once a top-fermenting style, but this is the first credible evidence. It sounds as if the colour must have come from some kind of roasted malt if it tasted smoky. Or maybe I'm getting it totally wrong.

There's more detail on brewing various top-fermenting in the section that follows. When I can be arsed to read and translate it, I'll post more.


Benedikt Koch said...

I'm also not completely convinced about all the informations about the beers.
Some facts like the use of smoked malt in Berliner or the use of wheat malt in Lichtenhainer confused me.
I'm currently in the phase of getting more sources about the old styles.
Besides the obove mentioned book I have so far collected:
- Schönfeld - Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung the 1938 Version (very good resource)
- Enzyklopädie der technischen chemie (good resource)
- Der Bierbrauer als Meister seines Fachs
- Vollständige Braukunde

What I will look at in the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek:
- Illustriertes Brauerei-Lexikon (Delbrück, Max Hayduck) 1925
- Die Bierbrauerei (Rommel)
- Moderne Braumethoden (Olberg) 1927
- Handbuch zur Fabrikation obergäriger Biere (A. Kulitzscher) 1930
- Die Thüringer Brauindustrie der Gegenwart 1935

I hope I get some stuff out of it!


BryanB said...

Ooh, fascinating!! I'm looking forward to reading more...

kaiserhog said...

I love Kostritzer, my favorite German beer.

Ron Pattinson said...


I thought smaoked malt in Berliner Weisse was a pre-1840 thing.

I'm dead jealous. I've ben trying to find a copy of Schönfeld's 1938 book for years. It seems to be very rare.

Unknown said...

Hi Benedict,
If you're looking at old beer styles, I'd consider 1)Local Industry

2) as the French say "teroir c'est tres impotant " ie ;
Locally sourced beers take account of local topography ; id also look at the malt/ period balance; ie pre/ post industrial revolution (late 18th - early 19th century malt type evolution ),
( my knowledge is English based , but I'm a brewer)

Motorbuffalo said...

That mention of German lambic is pretty intriguing.