27A. Historical Beer: Kellerbier

The original Kellerbier is a Märzen-type lager from the Franconia region of Germany, but other traditional versions are based on Munich Helles and Dunkel lagers. Variations based on Pils are a more modern invention with a wider international following and higher production.

Overall Impression

An unfiltered, unpasteurized, fully-attenuated German lager traditionally served from lagering vessels. May be a little richer, more robust, and rustic than the base styles. A fresh beer without fermentation defects associated with young, green (unfinished) beer.


Reflects base style. Can be somewhat hazy or cloudy, but never murky. Likely a little darker in appearance than the base style.


Reflects base style. May have an added bready, yeasty character from the yeast. Clean. Pale versions can have a more robust hop character. Dark versions can have a richer malt profile.


Reflects base style. May have an added bready, yeasty character from the yeast. Pale versions can have a more robust hop character. Dark versions can have a richer malt profile, but should never be roasty. May be slightly more bitter than the base style, and be a little heavier in the finish. Fully fermented with a clean fermentation profile; should not have eggy, buttery, apple-like, or similar flaws.


Reflects base style. May have a bit more body and a creamier texture than the base style. Carbonation typical of the base style, but may be lower.


A traditional serving style more than a beer style, yet these beers do have sensory differences from the base beers. Judge these somewhat like Specialty-Type Beers; consider the range of kellerbiers based on Helles to Märzen to Dunkel to be a continuous spectrum, so allow the brewer to pick the closest one without being too picky about strict adherence to the base style.
The name literally means cellar beer, and is a natural, gentle handling of fresh-tasting German lagerbier for seasonal, on-premise service. Like British Bitters, best enjoyed locally as the bottled examples may lack the characteristic freshness.


Originally referred to lager beer matured in the caves or cellars under the brewery, and then served from them. First applied to amber lager from Franconia, then later to local Munich styles. More recently used internationally to create specialty Pils variants. By tradition, a serving style for a popular summer specialty in Bavaria, but now adapted broadly as a marketing term for unfiltered lagers.

Characteristic Ingredients

Same as base styles. Traditionally naturally carbonated. Dry-hopping is not a traditional German brewing method, but some modern pale examples use this technique – which is allowable in this style as long as it is balanced. Traditionally lagered and unfiltered, these beers were never meant to be packaged for external sale.

Style Comparison

Richer or more robust than the base style, possibly with a bit more body and mouthfeel. Can be slightly cloudier than base beer.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify the base style: German Pils, Munich Helles, Märzen, or Munich Dunkel.

Vital Statistics

Same as base style.

Commercial Examples

Märzen – Faust Kräusen Naturtrüb, Mahrs Bräu aU Ungespundet Kellerbier; Dunkel – Engel Kellerbier Dunkel, Paulaner Ur-Dunkel Naturtrüb; Helles – ABK Kellerbier Naturtrüb, Löwenbräu 1747 Original; Pils – Giesinger Feines Pilschen, Ketterer Zwickel-Pils