Tag Archives: Beer in Germany

Brewers Association adds historical styles to 2013 guidelines

BA_logoEvery year the Brewers Association (BA) updates and releases its guide to beer styles that sets the bar for brewers across the nation. This year’s version, the 2013 Beer Style Guide was released Monday, March 4 with a few new styles and several modifications to existing styles. The BA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting craft breweries in the United States through educational programs and advocacy.

In this year’s edition, the number of recognized styles has grown from 140 to 142. The two additional styles are Adambier and Grätzer. Both brews are historic brews that have been appearing more and more in American breweries. Adambier is a German beer that was popular around Dortmund, while Grätzer is native to Poland.

Adambier, also called Dortmunder Adambier or Dortmunder Alt, is a potent, smoky beer often weighing in above 10% ABV. Traditionally the beer was strong, dark, and sour with high hopping rates and, in historic batches, a significant amount of wheat. The beer was typically barrel-aged for at least a year and often much longer.  The new style guidelines according to the BA are:

“Light brown to very dark in color. It may or may not use wheat in its formulation. Original styles of this beer may have a low or medium low degree of smokiness. Smoke character may be absent in contemporary versions of this beer. Astringency of highly roasted malt should be absent. Toast and caramel-like malt characters may be evident. Low to medium hop bitterness are perceived. Low hop flavor and aroma are perceived. It is originally a style from Dortmund. Adambier is a strong, dark, hoppy, sour ale extensively aged in wood barrels. Extensive aging and the acidification of this beer can mask malt and hop character to varying degrees. Traditional and non-hybrid varieties of European hops were traditionally used. A Kölsch-like ale fermentation is typical Aging in barrels may contribute some level of Brettanomyces and lactic character. The end result is a medium to full bodied complex beer in hop, malt, Brett and acidic balance.*”

The second new addition, Grätzer, gets its name from the town where it originated, Gratz in what used to be Prussia. The town is now called Grodzisk and is located in the province of Wielkopolski in western Poland. The region has a well-established brewing history as evidenced by the output of the port city of Gdansk. In the 15th century, the city on the Baltic Sea managed to produce well over 6 million gallons of beer at over 300 breweries. The Grätzer style of history is that of a smoked, white wheat beer. Traditionally the wheat malt was smoke with oak or birch wood. The guidelines for the style set out by the Brewers Association state:

“Grätzer is a Polish-Germanic pre-Reinheitsgebot style of golden to copper colored ale. The distinctive character comes from at least 50% oak wood smoked wheat malt with a percentage of barley malt optional. The overall balance is a balanced and sessionably low to medium assertively oak-smoky malt emphasized beer. It has a low to medium low hop bitterness; none or very low European noble hop flavor and aroma. A Kölsch-like ale fermentation and aging process lends a low degree of crisp and ester fruitiness Low to medium low body. Neither diacetyl nor sweet corn-like DMS (dimethylsulfide) should be perceived.*”

It is important to note that the style guidelines set forth by the BA are used as the basis for judging beers at the Great American Beer Festival held every year in Denver, Colo. and at the World Beer Cup. These style may differ slightly from style guides produced by other beer judging organizations, but are by far considered the Gospel by many brewers both hobbyist and professional.

The addition of historical styles as well as popular style indicates that craft brewing is coming into its own. Interest in traditional styles is on the rise allowing for new generations of beer enthusiasts to experience the delights inherent in each. As new historical styles are discovered and rise in popularity, they too will no doubt find their place in future Brewers Association guidelines.

*2013 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines used with permission of Brewers Association.

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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Beer, Beer Styles


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Epcot German Beers a Big Hit

This past weekend I helped celebrate the birthday of one of my most dear friends at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. This annual event has been going on for 16 years and has just gotten bigger and better each year. But, don’t let the name fool you, wine is not the only adult beverage featured at the festival; there is also a significant amount of beer from around the world available.

If you have never been to Epcot, let me give you a brief overview. The original concept of the park was for it to be a self-sustaining community in which people worked, lived, and played. However, after the death of Walt Disney, the plans changed to a more theme-park approach. The park is broken into two main areas; Future World, which contains pavilions dedicated to Space, Energy, The Seas, The Land, Imagination, and Test Track. The second section of the park is the World Showcase with pavilions themed to specific countries like Mexico, China, Norway, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, England, and Canada. It is in the World Showcase that the Food & Wine Festival is held. During this festival, other countries are represented through food and drink as well as the permanent countries.

I met my friends at 11:00 near the giant geodesic ball called Spaceship Earth in the Future World section of the park. We checked the festival guide and made our strategy for the day, deciding to attack the World Showcase starting on the Mexican side of the lagoon. The Mexican pavilion was serving Dos Equis beers, nothing spectacular, so we moved on. It was early enough in the day that the throngs of crowds had not arrived yet and we were able to stroll in a leisurely fashion from country to country. A stop was made in China for some Salt and Pepper Shrimp on Sichuan Noodles and Pork Pot Stickers. China was serving Tsing Tau beer, but I passed knowing that ahead lay the Germany pavilion and it’s Bier Garten.

We stopped at Germany and decided it was time for a few beers. The Bier Garten was sponsored by the Radeberger Gruppe, a German beer company whose goal is to maintain the traditions of German beer-making by allowing breweries to remain autonomous in their regions. This is in stark contrast to many beer conglomerates who outsource brews to the least expensive producers or opt to change traditions by using cheap ingredients. Radeberger Gruppe sees itself as a guardian of authentic German beer culture and holds the traditions of the past in the highest of esteem.

Eight beers were on offer and I first opted for the three-beer flight of Sion Kolsch, Hovels, Braufactum Roog.

As any true Kolsch should be, Sion is brewed in Cologne and because of that it is legally protected to be able to use the term Kolsch. Sion uses pale barley and wheat malts to produce a very pleasant and interesting flavor. The nose presents sweet malts and subtle hops while the texture is crisp with a pleasant fruity flavor that gives way to biscuit malts and a slight hop finish.

Braufactum Roog is a Smoked Wheat Ale that combines the flavors of a wheat ale with the smokiness of malts that have been roasted over beechwood. Not quite as smoky as a rauchbier, but the smokiness is readily apparent in its aroma. The brew pours a deep reddish-brown and rewards the taster with a smoky, almost meaty flavor with juniper and orange zest, as well as hints of banana.

Hovels is a unique beer that defies categorization. It is a top-fermented beer brewed at Hovels Hausbrauerei in Dortmund, Germany from a recipe developed in 1893. This beer pours amber red with strong citrus aromas and caramel malts. The flavor is reminiscent of caramel, bread, and dark raisins with a semi-dry finish.

After the sampler I also wanted to try the Schofferhofer Weizen a relatively new beer first produced in 1978. This tasty brew has won many awards and is often referred as the champagne among wheat beers. As a true German Hefeweizen Schofferhofer pours pale and hazy with a sweet floral aroma. The flavor is what you would expect from a hefeweizen and is rich in yeast, clove and slight lemon zest.

Finally, after hitting a few more food stands, we returned to Germany to try the Braufactum Indra, a German IPA made with wheat as well as barley malts while still adhering to the German Purity Law of 1516. This excellent brew is dark orange in color and greets you with pleasing aromas of banana and cloves as well as earthy notes. The flavor is honey, blood orange, and herbs with the bitterness typical of an IPA.

Other beers that were available at the festival were more typical of the countries they were served in. The Belgian tent was serving Stella Artois, Hoegarten, and Leffe. The Moroccan pavilion had Casa. And Italy had Moretti. England was serving the usual Guinness, Bodingtons, Bass, and Harp while Canada was serving Moosehead. There was also a Craft Beer tent serving a selection of beer like Abita Purple Haze and Blue Moon.

The Epcot Food & Wine Festival concludes for this year next weekend, so if you want to drink around the world, I suggest you head to Orlando this weekend.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Beer, Beer Styles


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Tap the Kegs! It’s Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest 2005 - Paulaner-Festhalle - front

Image via Wikipedia

Summer is unofficially over with Labor Day past us. Ahead are the cooler autumn days filled with preparations for the winter and its full accompaniment of holidays. Beer-minded folk look forward to this time of year for the heartier seasonal beers that it brings like Marzen, Pumpkin Ales, Oktoberfest, Dunkelweizen, and other spiced brews.

Perhaps the most famous of the list is Oktoberfest. Many have heard of the festival held in Munich, Germany every year from the end of September until the first weekend in October. But, few know that there is a style of beer named for the event nor do they know the reason or history of the celebration. The story is about a Prince, a Princess, a weddings, a horse race, and, of course, beer.

Once again, as I enjoy doing so often, it is time to Paulaner Oktoberfesttake you on a fantastical trip into European history to discover the origin of not only a great beer, but also a great celebration. Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 1810.

The party was a rousing success and as word traveled far and wide, Bavarians began to think that making this into a yearly event to boost the Bavarian agricultural show might be a pretty good thing. So, in 1811 Oktoberfest was held in conjunction with the first agricultural show. By 1816, carnival booths began to appear at the ‘Fest and the party grew. In 1819 festival management was assumed by the founding citizens of Munich and the things really started to take off.

But, Oktoberfest was still rather tame for the first 100 years or so. It was more agriculture than party and the only entertainment was the horse race and the few carnival tents and food vendors that set up there each year. Several times during these years the festival was cancelled due to cholera outbreaks and wars.

Beer tents first began to appear in 1896 to quench the thirst of parched festival attendees. Little did these first revelers know that in the coming years the tents would grow to hold as many as 5,000 visitors and the festival would expand to host an estimated six to seven million partiers.

After the end of World War II, Oktoberfest kicked into high gear. In 1950 the festival began its long tradition of a twelve gun salute and ceremonial tapping of the first keg by the incumbent Mayor of Munich as its official opening. The tapping is followed by a cry of “O’ zapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”). The first beer of the ‘Fest is then drawn and given to the Minister-President of Bavaria and the drinking commences.

By 1960, Oktoberfest had grown into the monumental world-famous festival depicted by German men in lederhosen and tirolerhute hats and women in dirndls. The beer tents and halls turn into seas of humanity all consuming massive steins of German beers brewed specifically for the event.

Today, Oktoberfest is known as the Largest Volksfest (People’s Fair) in the World. In 2010 the festival attracted 6.4 million visitors, only 72% of these visitors are from Bavaria. The rest are from other EU countries, the United States, Asia, and the rest of the world. While we are on the topic of statistics, a look at the astounding numbers that come out of this yearly beer blast are in order. For the most part, the drinking at Oktoberfest is done in the huge beer tents erected specifically for the event. In all there are fourteen large tents and twenty smaller tents. The largest of the tents, the Winzerer-Fahndl tent, can seat nearly 8,500 partiers inside and another 2,500 outside. When you combine the capacity of all the tents, there are in excess of over 100,000 seats available. During the run of the festival, attendees will consume nearly 2 million gallons of beer generally served one liter at a time, this equates to over 7 million liters. Hungry drinkers eat more than 500,000 chicken dinners, 240,000 sausages, and 70,000 pork knuckles.

Oktoberfest beer is of a variety called Märzen. Darker and stronger than traditional beer, Märzen contains up to 6% alcohol, is bottom-fermented, and is lagered for at least 30 days. The style is characterized by a medium to full body, a malty flavour and a clean dry finish. In Germany, the term covers beers which vary in color from pale (Helles Märzen), through amber to dark brown (Dunkles Märzen). Before the advent of modern refrigeration techniques, this type of beer was brewed in March (as its name suggests) and allowed to age through the summer, so that it was ready to drink by late summer or early fall. Like all German beer, the Oktoberfest beer is brewed according to strict German standards (called the Reinheitsgebot and in effect since 1516) that precisely define the four ingredients allowed in the brewing of beer: barley, hops, malt, and yeast.

Just 6 Munich breweries – Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten – are permitted to serve beer at the festival. Beer is served by the Maß, a one-liter mug, and costs about 8 euros. Beer maids and waiters must be able to carry 10 of these beer-filled mugs at a time.

Oktoberfest Beers to Try

Ayinger Oktoberfest Marzen

Tis tasty brew was served last year at the Springfield Brew Crew Oktoberfest party and was a big hit. Its malty and clean hop profile was refreshing and satisfying. Many described the beer as having a slight apple flavor to it. It is well worth seeking out at your local beer purveyor.

Paulaner Oktoberfest

Once brewed as only a seasonal beer, Paulaner’s Oktoberfest is now available year-round. It has a caramelized, barely malty nose and a rich, creamy full-flavored finish.

Spaten Oktoberfest Beer

Created in 1872, Oktoberfest Beer by Spaten is the first true Oktoberfest beer. This is a medium-bodied beer with rich, roasted malt flavor and perfectly balanced hops. With rich mouth feel and underlying malty sweetness, this is one of the most popular beers at Oktoberfest each year.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Pours a rich, clear amber with a two fingered off white/light tan head that drops slowly. Aromas of caramelly malt grain and toast. No hop aroma. There are flavors of deep caramel malt, biscuit and toast, with a balancing bitterness, but very malt forward. Mouth feel is medium to light.

Harpoon Octoberfest Beer

Pours burnt orange to reddish copper in color with a nice off-white, frothy head. Aromas present are of malt, slight fruit — maybe orange – slight hops. The flavor is a bit spicy with nice malts and medium body.

Local Jacksonville Oktoberfest Celebrations

Intuition Ale Works – September 24, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM

All the stops are being pulled out for the mother of all Oktoberfest celebrations here in Jacksonville at Intuition this year. The brewers are preparing two special edition brews for the occasion – a traditional Oktpberfest Marzen and a hefeweizen. There will be all-you-can-eat German wursts and other German foods, beer games, commemorative mugs, and a German costume contest.

Tickets are available now online at or at the Tap Room during regular business hours, Wednesday to Saturday, 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Prices are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. There are a limited number of tickets available.

Foodies USA – October 14

The Sheraton Jacksonville Hotel is the host for FoodiesUSA’s Jacksonville Oktoberfest 2011. At 5:00 PM there will be a Beer Pairing Dinner at Bold City Grill including a complete 5 course dinner perfectly paired with Bold City Beers. Afterwards, starting at 7:00 PM, explore the Bier Garden & Food Festival, where top beer and food vendors will bring their best for you to taste.

Tickets may be purchased online at The price for the Beer Dinner is $40, the Bier Garden is $25, or you can purchase both for $50.

Riverside Art Market Oktoberfest – October 21- 22

Come out Friday night after work, or anytime Saturday as RAM celebrates the cooler weather with some great German food, music, and fun!

Oktoberfest through the years has been a celebration of the end of the year harvest. Its raucous fun and revelry is matched only by the spring St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Enjoy the season with a stein of your favorite German beer and bratwurst.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Beer, Beer Festival, Beer Styles, Events, Octoberfest, Travel


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Pour Yourself a Koelsch One

A wreath Kolsch Beer - LA Times of Kölsch.

Image via Wikipedia

 It is always fun to delve into the history of a particular style of beer. Particularly if that beer is a bit obscure to begin with. Lately I have become fascinated with several German styles of beer. Coming from a very Bavarian background, I thought it only fitting to dig a little deeper into the traditions of my forbearers and learn more about German beer styles. And so, I begin my little trip down the cobbled stones of ancient brewing with a look at a style that is emerging in the United States as an approachable, drinkable, and decidedly refreshing style: Koelsch.

Now to understand Koelsch you will need to have a basic understanding of the two categories of beers; lagers and ales. Do not confuse these two categories with beer styles. Styles reside within these two categories. The difference between these two broad categories is the type of yeast used during fermentation. Ale yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures and are sometimes called “top fermenting” yeasts. This is because the yeast tends to stay towards the top of the tank during fermentation. Lagers yeasts conversely ferment at cooler temperatures and tend to stay towards the bottom of the fermentation tank. Another major difference between these two categories of beer is that ales tend to have more yeast driven flavors then lagers. Ale yeasts lend complex spicy and fruity flavors to beers that the cooler fermenting lager yeasts do not.

Now that you know the difference between ales and lagers, it is time to learn some history. Sherman, set the dials on the Way-Back machine to the closing years of the 1300’s in Cologne, Germany. A group of Guilds gathered and peacefully over-threw the noble-run government with a more democratic style of governance that allowed more freedom to all and ended a tradition of class segregation in the city that still holds true today. The reason this is so important to the history of the Koelsch style beer is that it proved that the people of Cologne were free-thinkers and strove to be different from other German cities.

At that time the German beer landscape was dominated by what is now called an Altbier or old beer. These beers were ales that used top fermenting yeasts. In the mid-to-late 1500’s though, a wave of lagers began to take over the German brewing world. Altbiers started to be replaced by the new lager styles until only a few ales remained. The city fathers of Cologne recognized that these ales were quickly dying out and, in 1603, issued an ordinance that outlawed the brewing of all but top-fermented beers within the city limits of Cologne. Thus, bottom-fermenting beers were proscribed from Cologne which led to the beginnings of modern-day Koelsch.

From that day in 1603 until the early nineteenth century, Cologne became known for its Keutebier, or white ale similar in style to Belgian wit beer, but without the addition of spices. Keutebier was a beer that used mostly wheat as its main grain. As tastes changed over time though, more and more barley was used until wheat completely disappeared from the beer and the first Koelsch was brewed in 1906 by the Sunner Brewery. But, it wasn’t until 1918 that the name Koelsch was officially used to describe this new style.

At first the style did not gain any momentum. But, after two World Wars, the style began to catch on. In the mid-1940’s, breweries that had been devastated during the Wars began to re-emerge. Lagers were still firmly in control of the beer-drinking world, but Koelsch was making in-roads. In the 1960’s Cologne’s beer production was a mere 50 million liters, or roughly 13 million gallons. In contrast, as the style began to rise in popularity, Cologne’s beer production peaked at over 370 million liters, or almost 98 million gallons. In recent years that number has dropped down a bit, but if the resurgence I have noticed in the style holds, Koelsch could well be on its way back up the charts.

Significantly, as with Champaign, the beer can only truly be called Koelsch if it is brewed in Cologne. In 1985 the Koelsch Convention established that only breweries within the city limits of Cologne could brew Koelsch beers. All others are to be called Koelsch-style beers. In 1997 the European Union gave further protection to the style allowing only 14 breweries the right to label their beers as Koelsch. As with most German beers, this style also adheres to the Reinheitsgebot or German purity law that prohibits the use of any ingredients in beer other than water, barley, hops, and yeast.

A Koelsch beer should be the color of straw and have a rather thin mouth-feel. The official guidleines state that this style should be between 4.4 and 5.2% ABV. The flavor should be slightly sweet with little or no hopiness and practically no fruitiness. All of these characteristic combine to make this an exceedingly refreshing beer when served at about 40 degrees. This is especially true on a hot summer day in Florida when the sun is beating down with the intensity of a blast furnace.

Some Koelsch and Koelsch-style beers to try are: Reissdorf, Gaffel, Harpoon Summer Beer, and Samuel Adams East-West Koelsch. And if you are looking for a locally brewed Koelsch-stylre in Jacksonville, FL, look no further than Intuition Ale Works and their deliciously refreshing Jon Boat Ale.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom


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Portland, OR Through the Eyes of the Drunken Traveler

We have a new columnist for the blog. His first submission is below. Enjoy!

Drunken Traveler here.

I awoke this morning from a long nap on a westward bound airplane in the city of Portland, Oregon. The first thing I did was look at Mr. Wikipedia for Portland, OR. A tear came to my eye when the search revealed. “Portland: The center of the beer universe.”

This business trip is going to much more fun than I had initially hoped! Unfortunately, I only have a few days and I will be working most of the time.

As I dragged in my luggage and checked into my hotel, the concierge and I struck up a conversation, “Is there anything I can get for you, or get directions…” he asked ( not knowing what he stepped into).

“Yes,” I chirped, “The names and addresses of all Craft Beer Pubs and Breweries in the area.”

Within 20 seconds I had a 15 page brochure in my hand, which contained listings for hundreds of craft and micro breweries. It was tantalizing, mesmerizing. It was like I was just been handed the only remaining copy of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s only 11:00 AM, I still have to work today and all I can think about is beer! I’m not going to make it just knowing there is all this great beer around me, calling my name, beckoning like sirens, teasing the synapses of my beer-loving brain.

So, off to work I go. I’ll try, difficult as it may be, to put these treasures out of my mind for now. But, soon my lovelies, soon you will be mine!

A few notable Breweries on the list:

The oldest and best hefeweizen brewer in the United States; Widmer Brothers.

Bridgeport, nearly every beer they put out has won awards.

A more famous local is Rogue.

But, I can get these nearly anywhere.

As I was setting up for my job — I do television broadcasting for sports, but that’s a another story — I struck up a conversation with one of the gentlemen from our scoring provider. Now this worldly traveler happens to be one of a bunch of German guys. As I talked about having a beer later at a local brewery, he chucked and said, “We are German, we have good German beer whenever we want!”

Quickly I responded, “But this is Portland, the Beer Capital of the World! This isn’t no cheap, tasteless, white American lager, this is real craft beer made by beer lovers!”

His eyes opened a bit wider, not much but just enough that I could tell they were interested. “We do want to try this American hefeweizen you mentioned,” he allowed.

Finally, quitting time! Now that I’ve worked a few hours, it’ll be time to crack open my concierge resource once I get back to the hotel. Let’s see what kinds of hoppy goodness I can get into tonight!

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Posted by on November 11, 2010 in Beer, Beer Tasting, Drunken Traveler


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