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German Beer Styles:
Altbier

Alt is German for "old", and these beers are of a style older than the lagered beers, a remnant of the time before lager was invented. Altbier is top fermented then cold lagered for a few weeks. Altbiers are copper-bronze in colour and mostly brewed around Düsseldorf. Altbier is the closest Germany gets to the style of a British bitter but the lagering period gives them a quite different character. The best English bitters are cask-conditioned or bottle-conditioned but Germany does not have the tradition of cask-conditioning ales so Altbiers are not cask-conditioned and, when bottled, are not bottle-conditioned. Generally around 4.8abv, mildly fruity, with a typically dry finish, there is more hop bitterness here than in most German beers. A good sessional drink, and goes well with cheese.

Boltens Alt Glass

Altbier is usually served in a straight, cylindrical 200ml glass called a Becher. It's like a Kölsch glass but broader and shorter.

Examples

Kutscher Alt: Now owned by Binding of Frankfurt. OBBD tasting notes

Boltens Ur-Alt [www.bolten-bier.de]: still family-owned, I think. OBBD tasting notes

Diebels Alt [www.diebels.de]. Now owned by the international brewing conglomerate Interbrew.

Frankheim Alt [www.frankenheim.de] OBBD tasting notes

Gatzweiler Gatz Alt [www.gatz.de] The Gatzweiler brewery closed down and Gatz is now brewed by Hannen, which is owned by Carlsberg. OBBD tasting notes

Hannen Alt [www.hannen.de] Now owned by Carlsberg. OBBD tasting notes

Schlüssel Original Schlüssel [www.zumschluessel.de] Still a privately-owned Hausbrauerei, I think. OBBD tasting notes

Schlösser Alt [www.schloesser.de]

Schumacher Alt [www.schumacher-alt.de]

Uerige Alt [www.uerige.de]

Altbier Links

Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter - Beer Styles: Altbier

www.koelsch-ist-kein-bier.de translates as "Kölsch isn't beer". implying a certain rivalry between Düsseldorfer Alt and neighbouring Cologne's Kölsch. My German isn't yet good enough to understand the site.

www.duesseldorf.de the Düsseldorf local government site, including tourist information, with English version.

www.duesseldorf-altstadt.de: Düsseldorf Altstadt tourism site, in German.

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Last updated: 7th August 2004

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