6B. Rauchbier

Overall Impression

An elegant, malty German amber lager with a balanced, complementary beechwood smoke character. Toasty-rich malt in aroma and flavor, restrained bitterness, low to high smoke flavor, clean fermentation profile, and an attenuated finish are characteristic.

Appearance

This should be a very clear beer, with a large, creamy, rich, tan- to cream-colored head. Medium amber/light copper to dark brown color.

Aroma

Blend of smoke and malt, with a varying balance and intensity. The beechwood smoke character can range from subtle to fairly strong, and can seem smoky, woody, or bacon-like. The malt character can be low to moderate, and be somewhat rich, toasty, or malty-sweet. The malt and smoke components are often inversely proportional (i.e., when smoke increases, malt decreases, and vice versa). Hop aroma may be very low to none. Clean lager fermentation character.

Flavor

Generally follows the aroma profile, with a blend of smoke and malt in varying balance and intensity, yet always complementary. Märzen-like qualities should be noticeable, particularly a malty, toasty richness, but the beechwood smoke flavor can be low to high. At higher levels, the smoke can take on a ham- or bacon-like character, which is acceptable as long as it doesn’t veer into the greasy range. The palate can be somewhat malty, rich, and sweet, yet the finish tends to be medium-dry to dry with the smoke character sometimes enhancing the dryness of the finish. The aftertaste can reflect both malt richness and smoke flavors, with a balanced presentation desirable. Moderate, balanced, hop bitterness. Moderate to none hop flavor with spicy, floral, or herbal notes. Clean lager fermentation character. Harsh, bitter, burnt, charred, rubbery, sulfury or phenolic smoky characteristics are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel

Medium body. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Smooth lager character. Significant astringent, phenolic harshness is inappropriate.

Comments

Literally “smoke beer” in German. The intensity of smoke character can vary widely; not all examples are highly smoked. Allow for variation in the style when judging. Other examples of smoked beers are available in Germany based on styles such as Dunkles Bock, Weissbier, Dunkel, Schwarzbier, and Helles, including examples such as Spezial Lager; these should be entered in the Classic Style Smoked Beer category. This description specifically refers to the smoked Märzen version.

History

A historical specialty of the city of Bamberg, in the Franconian region of Bavaria in Germany. Beechwood-smoked malt is used to make a Märzen-style amber lager. The smoke character of the malt varies by maltster; some breweries produce their own smoked malt (rauchmalz).

Characteristic Ingredients

German Rauchmalz (beechwood-smoked Vienna-type malt) typically makes up 20-100% of the grain bill, with the remainder being German malts typically used in a Märzen. Some breweries adjust the color slightly with a bit of roasted malt. German lager yeast. German or Czech hops.

Style Comparison

Like a Märzen with but with a balanced, sweet, smoky aroma and flavor and a somewhat darker color.

Vital Statistics

IBU

20 - 30

SRM

12 - 22

OG

1.050 - 1.057

FG

1.012 - 1.016

ABV

4.8% - 6%

Commercial Examples

Eisenbahn Rauchbier, Kaiserdom Rauchbier, Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, Spezial Rauchbier Märzen, Victory Scarlet Fire Rauchbier.

6C. Dunkles Bock

Overall Impression

A dark, strong, malty German lager beer that emphasizes the malty-rich and somewhat toasty qualities of continental malts without being sweet in the finish.

Appearance

Light copper to brown color, often with attractive garnet highlights. Lagering should provide good clarity despite the dark color. Large, creamy, persistent, off-white head.

Aroma

Medium to medium-high bready-malty-rich aroma, often with moderate amounts of rich Maillard products and/or toasty overtones. Virtually no hop aroma. Some alcohol may be noticeable. Clean lager character, although the malts can provide a slight (low to none) dark fruit character, particularly in aged examples.

Flavor

Complex, rich maltiness is dominated by the toasty-rich Maillard products. Some caramel notes may be present. Hop bitterness is generally only high enough to support the malt flavors, allowing a bit of sweetness to linger into the finish. Well-attenuated, not cloying. Clean fermentation profile, although the malt can provide a slight dark fruit character. No hop flavor. No roasted or burnt character.

Mouthfeel

Medium to medium-full bodied. Moderate to moderately low carbonation. Some alcohol warmth may be found, but should never be hot. Smooth, without harshness or astringency.

Comments

Decoction mashing and long boiling plays an important part of flavor development, as it enhances the caramel and Maillard flavor aspects of the malt. Any fruitiness is due to Munich and other specialty malts, not yeast-derived esters developed during fermentation.

History

Originated in the Northern German city of Einbeck, which was a brewing center and popular exporter in the days of the Hanseatic League (14th to 17th century). Recreated in Munich starting in the 17th century. The name “bock” is based on a corruption of the name “Einbeck” in the Bavarian dialect, and was thus only used after the beer came to Munich. “Bock” also means “Ram” in German, and is often used in logos and advertisements.

Characteristic Ingredients

Munich and Vienna malts, rarely a tiny bit of dark roasted malts for color adjustment, never any non-malt adjuncts. Continental European hop varieties are used. Clean German lager yeast.

Style Comparison

Darker, with a richer malty flavor and less apparent bitterness than a Helles Bock. Less alcohol and malty richness than a Doppelbock. Stronger malt flavors and higher alcohol than a Märzen. Richer, less attenuated, and less hoppy than a Czech Amber Lager.

Vital Statistics

IBU

20 - 27

SRM

14 - 22

OG

1.064 - 1.072

FG

1.013 - 1.019

ABV

6.3% - 7.2%

Commercial Examples

Aass Bock, Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, Kneitinger Bock, New Glarus Uff-da Bock, Penn Brewery St. Nikolaus Bock.

7. Amber Bitter European Beer

This category groups amber-colored, evenly balanced to bitter balanced beers of German or Austrian origin.

7A. Vienna Lager

Overall Impression

A moderate-strength amber lager with a soft, smooth maltiness and moderate bitterness, yet finishing relatively dry. The malt flavor is clean, bready-rich, and somewhat toasty, with an elegant impression derived from quality base malts and process, not specialty malts and adjuncts.

Appearance

Light reddish amber to copper color. Bright clarity. Large, off-white, persistent head.

Aroma

Moderately-intense malt aroma, with toasty and malty-rich aromatics. Clean lager character. Floral, spicy hop aroma may be low to none. A significant caramel or roasted aroma is inappropriate.

Flavor

Soft, elegant malt complexity is in the forefront, with a firm enough hop bitterness to provide a balanced finish. The malt flavor tends towards a rich, toasty character, without significant caramel or roast flavors. Fairly dry, crisp finish, with both rich malt and hop bitterness present in the aftertaste. Floral, spicy hop flavor may be low to none. Clean lager fermentation character.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body, with a gentle creaminess. Moderate carbonation. Smooth.

Comments

A standard-strength everyday beer, not a beer brewed for festivals. American versions can be a bit stronger, drier and more bitter, while modern European versions tend to be sweeter. Many Mexican amber and dark lagers used to be more authentic, but unfortunately are now more like sweet, adjunct-laden Amber/Dark International Lagers. Regrettably, many modern examples use adjuncts which lessen the rich malt complexity characteristic of the best examples of this style. This style is on the watch list to move to the Historical category in future guidelines; that would allow the classic style to be described while moving the sweeter modern versions to the International Amber or Dark Lager styles.

History

Developed by Anton Dreher in Vienna in 1841, became popular in the mid-late 1800s. Now nearly extinct in its area of origin, the style continues in Mexico where it was brought by Santiago Graf and other Austrian immigrant brewers in the late 1800s. Authentic examples are increasingly hard to find (except perhaps in the craft beer industry) as formerly good examples become sweeter and use more adjuncts.

Characteristic Ingredients

Vienna malt provides a lightly toasty and complex, Maillard-rich malt profile. As with Märzens, only the finest quality malt should be used, along with Continental hops (preferably Saazer types or Styrians). Can use some caramel malts and/or darker malts to add color and sweetness, but caramel malts shouldn’t add significant aroma and flavor and dark malts shouldn’t provide any roasted character.

Style Comparison

Lighter malt character, slightly less body, and slightly more bitter in the balance than a Märzen, yet with many of the same malt-derived flavors. The malt character is similar to a Märzen, but less intense and more balanced. Lower in alcohol than Märzen or Festbier. Less rich, less malty and less hop-centered compared to Czech Amber Lager.

Vital Statistics

IBU

18 - 30

SRM

9 - 15

OG

1.048 - 1.055

FG

1.010 - 1.014

ABV

4.7% - 5.5%

Commercial Examples

Cuauhtémoc Noche Buena, Chuckanut Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, Figueroa Mountain Danish-style Red Lager, Heavy Seas Cutlass Amber Lager, Schell’s Firebrick.

7B. Altbier

Overall Impression

A well-balanced, well-attenuated, bitter yet malty, clean, and smooth, amber- to copper-colored German beer. The bitterness is balanced by the malt richness, but the malt intensity and character can range from moderate to high (the bitterness increases with the malt richness).

Appearance

The color ranges from light amber to deep copper color, stopping short of brown; bronze-orange is most common. Brilliant clarity. Thick, creamy, long-lasting off-white head.

Aroma

Clean yet robust and complex aroma of grainy-rich malt and spicy hops with restrained (low to medium-low) fruity esters. The malt character reflects German base malt varieties, with rich baked bread and nutty-toasty bread crust notes. The hop aroma may vary from moderate to low, and can have a peppery, spicy, floral, herbal or perfumy character associated with Saazer-type hops.

Flavor

Assertive hop bitterness well balanced by a sturdy yet clean and crisp malt character. The malt presence is moderated by medium-high to high attenuation, but considerable rich, complex, and somewhat grainy malt flavors can remain. Some fruity esters (especially cherry-like) may survive the lagering period. A long-lasting, medium-dry to dry, bittersweet or nutty finish reflects both the hop bitterness and malt complexity. Spicy, peppery or floral hop flavor can be moderate to low. No roasted malt flavors or harshness. The apparent bitterness level is sometimes masked by the malt character; the bitterness can seem as low as moderate if the finish is not very dry. Light sulfury or minerally character optional.

Mouthfeel

Medium-bodied. Smooth. Medium to medium-high carbonation, although can be lower when served from the cask. Astringency low to none. Despite being very full of flavor, is light-bodied enough to be consumed as a gravity-fed session beer in its home brewpubs in Düsseldorf.

Comments

A top-fermented lagered beer, fermented at cool ale temperature (59–68 °F), often conditioned at bottom-fermentation temperatures (about 50 °F) and then lagered at cold temperatures to produce a cleaner, smoother palate than is typical for most ales. Zum Uerige is a wonderful beer, but much more aggressively bitter and complex than most other German examples. It may be like the Fuller’s ESB of the strong bitter category – well-known but somewhat of a stylistic outlier. Do not judge all Altbiers as if they were Zum Uerige clones; allow for a more balanced bitterness in the beer (25–35 IBUs is more typical for most other German examples). Stronger sticke and doppelsticke beers should not be entered here.

History

The traditional style of beer from Düsseldorf. “Alt” refers to the “old” style of brewing (i.e., using top-fermenting yeast) that was common before bottom-fermenting lager brewing became popular. Predates the isolation of bottom-fermenting yeast strains, though it approximates many characteristics of bottom-fermenting lager beers. Many of the classic examples can be found in brewpubs in the Altstadt (“old town”) section of Düsseldorf.

Characteristic Ingredients

Grists vary, but usually consist of German base malts (usually Pils, sometimes Munich) with small amounts of crystal, chocolate, and/or black malts used to adjust color. Occasionally will include some wheat, including roasted wheat. Spalt hops are traditional, but other Saazer-type hops can also be used. Clean, highly attenuative ale yeast. A step mash or decoction mash program is traditional.

Style Comparison

More bitter and malty than international amber lagers. Somewhat similar to California Common, both in production technique and finished flavor and color, though not in ingredients.

Vital Statistics

IBU

25 - 50

SRM

11 - 17

OG

1.044 - 1.052

FG

1.008 - 1.014

ABV

4.3% - 5.5%

Commercial Examples

Bolten Alt, Diebels Alt, Füchschen Alt, Original Schlüssel Alt, Schlösser Alt, Schumacher Alt, Uerige Altbier.
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