While Germany is strongly associated with lagered beers, until 1919 many of the leading styles of beer in its northern half were ales. After German unification in 1871 pressure mounted to bring these under the Reinheitsgebot stipulation, which was challenging.
The German ales that have survived include to that after primary fermentation go on to be cold-conditioned for a time, plus a cluster of wheat beers.
This clean, lively, well-attenuated, amber-copper beer (4.5-6.0% ABV) is associated with the Rhineland city of Düsseldorf. Its malt intensity ranges from moderate to high but should be balanced with the bitterness. It is found at its best in its home region, especially when served uncarbonated from an upright cask. Some brewers create a subtly stronger version called Sticke, once a year, and a couple make strong bottled variant called Doppel Sticke (8-8.5%). As with Kölsch (below) it is fermented at room temperature by an ale yeast before being cold-conditioned like a lager.
The beer of Cologne (Köln) looks like a blond lager but drinks more like a light ale. Because Kölsch is fermented by an ale yeast it is subtly fruitier than other blond brews, while lagering smooths it out somewhat. The style is subject to a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), so the only beer that can be sold in the EU with that name must be made in a specific region around the city. As with Altbier (above) and Kellerbier[TW8] it is best appreciated locally to where it is made, served uncarbonated from an upright wooden cask called a Pittermannsch, into 20 cl tall glasses that are constantly replaced until you cap the flow with a beer mat.
The lead author and curator of The Beer Styles of Europe and beyond is Tim Webb, co-author of The World Atlas of Beer. We welcome all comments on the factual accuracy of these pages. These should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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