Historical Beer Roggenbier

27. Historical Beer: Roggenbier

Overall Impression:
A dunkelweizen made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops.

Aroma:
Light to moderate spicy rye aroma intermingled with light to moderate weizen yeast aromatics (spicy clove and fruity esters, either banana or citrus). Light spicy, floral, or herbal hops are acceptable.

Appearance:
Light coppery-orange to very dark reddish or coppery-brown color. Large creamy off-white to tan head, quite dense and persistent (often thick and rocky). Cloudy, hazy appearance.

Flavor:
Grainy, moderately-low to moderately-strong spicy rye flavor, often having a hearty flavor reminiscent of rye or pumpernickel bread. Medium to medium-low bitterness allows an initial malt sweetness (sometimes with a bit of caramel) to be tasted before yeast and rye character takes over. Low to moderate weizen yeast character (banana, clove), although the balance can vary. Medium-dry, grainy finish with a lightly bitter (from rye) aftertaste. Low to moderate spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor acceptable, and can persist into aftertaste.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-full body. High carbonation. Moderately creamy.

Comments:
Rye is a huskless grain and is difficult to mash, often resulting in a gummy mash texture that is prone to sticking. Rye has been characterized as having the most assertive flavor of all cereal grains. It is inappropriate to add caraway seeds to a roggenbier (as some American brewers do); the rye character is traditionally from the rye grain only.

History:
A specialty German rye beer originally brewed in Regensburg, Bavaria. Never a widely popular style, it has all but disappeared in modern times.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Malted rye typically constitutes 50% or greater of the grist (some versions have 60-65% rye). Remainder of grist can include pale malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, crystal malt and/or small amounts of debittered dark malts for color adjustment. Weizen yeast provides distinctive banana esters and clove phenols. Light usage of Saazer-type hops in bitterness, flavor and aroma. Lower fermentation temperatures accentuate the clove character by suppressing ester formation. Decoction mash traditionally used (as with weissbiers).

Style Comparison:
A more distinctive variant of a dunkelweizen using malted rye instead of malted wheat. American Rye Beers will not have the weizen yeast character, and likely more hops.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.046 – 1.056
IBUs: 10 – 20
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
SRM: 14 – 19
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Thurn und Taxis Roggen

Historical Beer Piwo Grodziskie

27. Historical Beer: Piwo Grodziskie

Overall Impression:
A low-gravity, highly-carbonated, light-bodied ale combining an oak-smoked flavor with a clean hop bitterness. Highly sessionable.

Aroma:
Low to moderate oak wood smoke is the most prominent aroma component, but can be subtle and hard to detect. A low spicy, herbal, or floral hop aroma is typically present, and should be lower than or equal to the smoke in intensity. Hints of grainy wheat are also detected in the best examples. The aroma is otherwise clean, although light pome fruit esters (especially ripe red apple or pear) are welcome. No acidity. Slight water-derived sulfury notes may be present.

Appearance:
Pale yellow to medium gold in color with excellent clarity. A tall, billowy, white, tightly-knit head with excellent retention is distinctive. Murkiness is a fault.

Flavor:
Moderately-low to medium oak smoke flavor up front which carries into the finish; the smoke can be stronger in flavor than in aroma. The smoke character is gentle, should not be acrid, and can lend an impression of sweetness. A moderate to strong bitterness is readily evident which lingers through the finish. The overall balance is toward bitterness. Low but perceptible spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor. Low grainy wheat character in the background. Light pome fruit esters (red apple or pear) may be present. Dry, crisp finish. No sourness.

Mouthfeel:
Light in body, with a crisp and dry finish. Carbonation is quite high and can add a slight carbonic bite or prickly sensation. No noticeable alcohol warmth.

Comments:
Pronounced in English as “pivo grow-JEES-kee-uh” (meaning: Grodzisk beer). Known as Grätzer (pronounced “GRATE-sir”) in German-speaking countries, and in some beer literature. Traditionally made using a multi-step mash, a long boil (~2 hours), and multiple strains of ale yeast. The beer is never filtered but Isinglass is used to clarify before bottle conditioning. Traditionally served in tall conical glassware to accommodate the vigorous foam stand.

History: Developed as a unique style centuries ago in the Polish city of Grodzisk (known as Grätz when ruled by Prussia and Germany). Its fame and popularity rapidly extended to other parts of the world in the late 19th and early 20th century. Regular commercial production declined after WWII and ceased altogether in the early-mid 1990s. This style description describes the traditional version during its period of greatest popularity.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Grain bill usually consists entirely of oak-smoked wheat malt. Oak-smoked wheat malt has a different (and less intense) smoke character than German beechwood-smoked barley malt; it has a drier, crisper, leaner quality – a bacon/ham smoke flavor is inappropriate. Saazer-type hops (Polish, Czech or German), moderate hardness sulfate water, and a relatively clean and attenuative continental ale yeast fermented at moderate ale temperatures are traditional. German hefeweizen yeast or other strains with a phenol or strong ester character are inappropriate.

Style Comparison:
Similar in strength to a Berliner Weisse, but never sour. Has a smoked character but less intense than in a Rauchbier.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.028 – 1.032
IBUs: 20 – 35
FG: 1.006 – 1.012
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 2.5 – 3.3%

Historical Beer Lichtenhainer

27. Historical Beer: Lichtenhainer

Overall Impression:
A sour, smoked, lower-gravity historical German wheat beer. Complex yet refreshing character due to high attenuation and carbonation, along with low bitterness and moderate sourness.

Aroma:
Moderately strong fresh smoky aroma, light hints of sourness, medium-low fruity esters, possibly apples or lemons, moderate bready-grainy malt. The smoke character is stronger than the bready notes, and the smoke has a ‘dry’ character, like the remnants of an old fire, not a ‘greasy’ smoke.

Appearance:
Tall off-white head, rocky and persistent. Deep yellow to light gold color. Fair clarity, may be somewhat hazy.

Flavor:
Moderately strong fruity flavor, possibly lemons or apples. Moderate intensity, clean lactic tartness (no funk). Similar smoky character as aroma (dry wood fire), medium strength. Dry finish, with acidity and smoke in the aftertaste. Low bitterness; the acidity is providing the balance, not hops. Fresh, clean palate and slightly puckery aftertaste. The wheat character is on the low side; the smoke and acidity are more prominent in the balance. The lemony-tart/green apple flavor is strongest in the finish, with smoke a close second. Complex.

Mouthfeel:
Tingly acidity. High carbonation. Medium to medium-light body.

Comments:
Served young. Smoke and sour is an unusual combination that is not for everyone.

History:
Originating in Lichtenhain, in Thüringen (central Germany). Height of popularity was towards the end of the 1800s, and was widely available throughout Thüringen. Like a pre-1840 Berliner Weisse.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Smoked barley malt, wheat malt, lactobacillus, top-fermenting yeast. Grists vary, but the wheat would typically be 30-50%.

Style Comparison:
In the same general historical lower-alcohol top-fermenting central European wheat beer family as Gose, Grodziskie, and Berliner weisse, has elements of all of them but having its own unique balance – sour and smoke is not found in any of the other beers. Not as acidic as Berliner weisse, probably more like a smoked Gose without coriander and salt, or a Grodziskie with Gose-like acidity.

Vital Statistics
:
OG: 1.032 – 1.040
IBUs: 5 – 12
FG: 1.004 – 1.008
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 3.5 – 4.7%

Historical Beer Gose

27. Historical Beer: Gose

Overall Impression:
A highly-carbonated, tart and fruity wheat ale with a restrained coriander and salt character and low bitterness. Very refreshing, with bright flavors and high attenuation.

Aroma:
Light to moderately fruity aroma of pome fruit. Light sourness, slightly sharp. Noticeable coriander, which can have an aromatic lemony quality, and an intensity up to moderate. Light bready, doughy, yeasty character like uncooked sourdough bread. The acidity and coriander can give a bright, lively impression. The salt may be perceived as a very light, clean sea breeze character or just a general freshness, if noticeable at all.

Appearance:
Unfiltered, with a moderate to full haze. Moderate to tall sized white head with tight bubbles and good retention. Effervescent. Medium yellow color.

Flavor:
Moderate to restrained but noticeable sourness, like a squeeze of lemon in iced tea. Moderate bready/doughy malt flavor. Light to moderate fruity character of pome fruit, stone fruit, or lemons. Light to moderate salt character, up to the threshold of taste; the salt should be noticeable (particularly in the initial taste) but not taste overtly salty. Low bitterness, no hop flavor. Dry, fully-attenuated finish, with acidity not hops balancing the malt. Acidity can be more noticeable in the finish, and enhance the refreshing quality of the beer. The acidity should be balanced, not forward (although historical versions could be very sour).

Mouthfeel:
High to very high carbonation, effervescent. Medium-light to medium-full body. Salt may give a slightly tingly, mouthwatering quality, if perceived at all. The yeast and wheat can give it a little body, but it shouldn’t have a heavy feel.

Comments:
Served in traditional cylindrical glasses. Historical versions may have been more sour than modern examples due to spontaneous fermentation, and may be blended with syrups as is done with Berliner Weisse, or Kümmel, a liqueur flavored with caraway, cumin, and fennel. Modern examples are inoculated with lactobacillus, and are more balanced and generally don’t need sweetening. Pronounced GOH-zeh.

History:
Minor style associated with Leipzig but originating in the Middle Ages in the town of Goslar on the Gose River. Documented to have been in Leipzig by 1740. Leipzig was said to have 80 Gose houses in 1900. Production declined significantly after WWII, and ceased entirely in 1966. Modern production was revived in the 1980s, but the beer is not widely available.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Pilsner and wheat malt, restrained use of salt and coriander seed, lactobacillus. The coriander should have a fresh, citrusy (lemon or bitter orange), bright note, and not be vegetal, celery-like, or ham-like. The salt should have a sea salt or fresh salt character, not a metallic, iodine note.

Style Comparison:
Perceived acidity is not as intense as Berliner Weisse or Gueuze. Restrained use of salt, coriander, and lactobacillus – should not taste overtly salty. Coriander aroma can be similar to a witbier. Haziness similar to a Weissbier.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.036 – 1.056
IBUs: 5 – 12
FG: 1.006 – 1.010
SRM: 3 – 4
ABV: 4.2 – 4.8%

Commercial Examples:
Anderson Valley Gose, Bayerisch Bahnhof Leipziger Gose, Döllnitzer Ritterguts Gose

Witbier

24A. Witbier

Overall Impression:
A refreshing, elegant, tasty, moderate-strength wheat-based ale.

Aroma:
Moderate malty sweetness (often with light notes of honey and/or vanilla) with light, grainy, spicy wheat aromatics, often with a bit of tartness. Moderate perfumy coriander, often with a complex herbal, spicy, or peppery note in the background. Moderate zesty, citrusy-orangey fruitiness. A low spicy-herbal hop aroma is optional, but should never overpower the other characteristics. Vegetal, celery-like, or ham-like aromas are inappropriate. Spices should blend in with fruity, floral and sweet aromas and should not be overly strong.

Appearance:
Very pale straw to very light gold in color. The beer will be very cloudy from starch haze and/or yeast, which gives it a milky, whitish-yellow appearance. Dense, white, moussy head. Head retention should be quite good.

Flavor:
Pleasant malty-sweet grain flavor (often with a honey and/or vanilla character) and a zesty, orange-citrusy fruitiness. Refreshingly crisp with a dry, often tart, finish. Can have a low bready wheat flavor. Optionally has a very light lactic-tasting sourness. Herbal-spicy flavors, which may include coriander and other spices, are common should be subtle and balanced, not overpowering. A spicy-earthy hop flavor is low to none, and if noticeable, never gets in the way of the spices. Hop bitterness is low to medium-low, and doesn’t interfere with refreshing flavors of fruit and spice, nor does it persist into the finish. Bitterness from orange pith should not be present. Vegetal, celery-like, ham-like, or soapy flavors are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-light to medium body, often having a smoothness and light creaminess from unmalted wheat and the occasional oats. Despite body and creaminess, finishes dry and often a bit tart. Effervescent character from high carbonation. Refreshing, from carbonation, light acidity, and lack of bitterness in finish. No harshness or astringency from orange pith. Should not be overly dry and thin, nor should it be thick and heavy.

Comments:
The presence, character and degree of spicing and lactic sourness varies. Overly spiced and/or sour beers are not good examples of the style. Coriander of certain origins might give an inappropriate ham or celery character. The beer tends to be fragile and does not age well, so younger, fresher, properly handled examples are most desirable. Most examples seem to be approximately 5% ABV.

History:
A 400-year-old Belgian beer style that died out in the 1950s; it was later revived by Pierre Celis at Hoegaarden, and has grown steadily in popularity over time, both with modern craft brewers and mass-market producers who see it as a somewhat fruity summer seasonal beer.

Characteristic Ingredients:
About 50% unmalted wheat and 50% pale barley malt (usually Pils malt) constitute the grist. In some versions, up to 5-10% raw oats may be used. Spices of freshly-ground coriander and Curaçao or sometimes sweet orange peel complement the sweet aroma and are quite characteristic. Other spices (e.g., chamomile, cumin, cinnamon, Grains of Paradise) may be used for complexity but are much less prominent. Ale yeast prone to the production of mild, spicy flavors is very characteristic. In some instances a very limited lactic fermentation, or the actual addition of lactic acid, is done.

Style Comparison:
Low bitterness level with a balance similar to a Weissbier, but with spice and citrus character coming from additions rather than the yeast.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.052
IBUs: 8 – 20 FG: 1.008 – 1.012
SRM: 2 – 4 ABV: 4.5 – 5.5%

Commercial Examples:
Allagash White, Blanche de Bruxelles, Celis White, Hoegaarden Wit, Ommegang Witte, St. Bernardus Witbier, Wittekerke