New craft-beer styles: Resurrected German brews

Latest craft-beer trend: American and German breweries revive long-hidden styles like Gose, Rauchbier and more.

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  • Photograph: Juan Carlos H

    New York bars are teeming with different craft-beer styles. But some old German ones—like the unfiltered Kellerbier and smoky Lichtenhainer Weisse—are just beginning to hit the market, thanks to breweries such as Ausburg’s Brauhaus Riegele and Cologne’s Freigeist. Learn more about these resurrected brews.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Unfiltered Kölsch

    The style: Cloudy, unfiltered, hoppy yellow ale
    The scoop: An early-20th-century product of Cologne, Germany, Kölsch beer fell out of production when Deutsch breweries were destroyed in World War II. The style experienced a German resurgence in the ’80s, so much so that the Cologne Brewery Association had to regulate copycat foreign brewers in ’86. The committee ruled that true Kölsch had to be brewed in Cologne and filtered, thus rendering unfiltered varieties illegal.
    The descendant: Freigeist—the experimental offshoot of Cologne microbrewery Braustelle—unearths the unfiltered bandit brew with its extra-hopped Ottekolong (“eau de Cologne”), a grassy, musty Kölsch with more haziness than a van full of Phish fans.
    Where to find it: Stinky Bklyn, 215 Smith St between Baltic and Butler Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-522-7425, stinkybklyn.com). 16oz bottle $6.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Berliner Weisse

    The style: Tart, effervescent, golden wheat ale
    The scoop: Dubbed the “champagne of the north,” the highly carbonated Berlin-bred beer dates to the 16th century, but hit the height of its popularity in the industrial late 1800s, with more than 700 breweries producing the style. Demand waned in the mid–20th century due to the rise of similar brews like Hefeweizen, and by the end of the 1900s there were only two Berlin breweries still making the sour suds.
    The descendent: Freising’s Professor Fritz Briem gives a crash course on the brew’s signature tang with its Berliner Weisse 1809, fortified with funky Brettanomyces yeast for serious pucker power.
    Where to find it: Brouwerij Lane, 78 Greenpoint Ave at Franklin Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (347-529-6133, brouwerijlane.com). 16oz bottle $9.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Kellerbier

    The style: Unfiltered lager
    The scoop: Forget about newfangled draft systems—this beer is best enjoyed straight from the cask. Because the bung (stopper) is left loose, these brews have little fizz and a dry finish.
    The descendant: Served in bottles or out of an oak barrel, Ausburg brewery Brauhaus Riegele’s amber-colored variety boasts a sharp hoppiness.
    Where to find it: Brouwerij Lane, 78 Greenpoint Ave at Franklin Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (347-529-6133, brouwerijlane.com). 64oz growler $14.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Lichtenhainer Weisse

    The style: Wheat ale
    The scoop: Native to eastern Germany, this beer is the tangy, dark love child of two other obscure styles: the sour Berliner Weisse and smoky Rauchbier.
    The descendant: Specializing in throwback beers, Freigeist adds peat-smoked malt to the Abraxxxas for extra smolder.
    Where to find it: The Cannibal, 113 E 29th St between Park Ave South and Lexington Ave (212-646-5480, thecannibalnyc.com). 16.9oz bottle $12.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Altbier

    The style: Smooth, malty, copper-colored ale
    The scoop: Before lager became Germany’s go-to beer in the mid 1800s, Düsseldorf-born Altbier (literally “old beer”) was the country’s de facto style, defined by time-honored brewing methods: top and warm fermenting (flavor-packed yeast rises to the surface for a stronger ale taste), followed by cold conditioning (chilling the suds after a second round of fermentation) to soften any overt fruitiness.
    The descendant: Following its 2012 release of Kölsch-style Easy Blonde, New York’s Alphabet City Brewing Co. unleashed another German variety this year—Dizzy Brewnette amber ale, a medium-bodied, malt-heavy Alt relative.
    Where to find it: Alphabet City Beer Co., 96 Ave C between 6th and 7th Sts (646-422-7103, abcbeer.co). 64oz growler $13.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Gose

    The style: Unfiltered wheat beer
    The scoop: Gose beers were originally made from the mineral-rich water surrounding Leipzig—a central-German mining town—giving the quaff its distinctive salty flavor.
    The descendant: Westbrook Brewing rolled out its Gose in April 2012, using coriander and salt to mimic the saline German water. The low-alcohol sipper—it clocks in at 4% alcohol by by volume—is brightened with a lip-smacking citrus tang.
    Where to find it: Proletariat, 102 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A (212-777-6707, proletariatny.com). 12oz can $6.

  • Roggen

    The style: Dark, bready rye ale with a dry finish
    The scoop: In ye olden days of the Middle Ages, rye was as readily used in European grain bills as barley and wheat. That is, until a series of poor harvests squelched its use in medieval ales, reserving the scant stores for bread and leading to the passage of the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Beer Purity Law) in 1516. The strict legislation allowed only water, barley and hops as ingredients in beer production. Roggenbier (rye beer) lay dormant for nearly five centuries, until the law was upended in 1987.
    The descendant: As part of its Brewhouse Rarities series, Flying Dog’s September release is a take on the ancient Roggen, crafted with 40% rye and fermented with a Hefeweizen yeast strain for a toasty, rich sip.
    Where to find it: Alphabet City Beer Co., 96 Ave C between 6th and 7th Sts (646-422-7103, abcbeer.co). 64oz growler $13.

  • Rauchbier

    The style: Smoked ale
    The scoop: Kiln-dried hops lends this South German specialty its unmistakable roasted flavor.
    The descendent: Evan Klein and Craig Frymark of Barrier Brewing Co. in Oceanside, NY, enhance their Rauchbier with beech-wood–smoked barley malt, giving the ale a pleasant charred flavor.
    Where to find it: Proletariat, 102 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A (212-777-6707, proletariatny.com). 14oz draft $7.

Photograph: Juan Carlos H

New York bars are teeming with different craft-beer styles. But some old German ones—like the unfiltered Kellerbier and smoky Lichtenhainer Weisse—are just beginning to hit the market, thanks to breweries such as Ausburg’s Brauhaus Riegele and Cologne’s Freigeist. Learn more about these resurrected brews.

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