Kölsch (literally meaning “from Cologne”) is one of the few beer styles in the world that is legally defined. The Cologne brewers association outlines in the “Kölsch-Konvention” that Kölsch is a pale, highly attenuated, hop forward, bright ale that is brewed according to the German purity law within the city limits of Cologne. On top of that, Kölsch is recognized by the European Union as a regional specialty with a protected geographic origin. So, no European breweries outside of the Cologne area can market their beer as “Kölsch”.

The world has rarely seen artists, poets and thinkers (and in some cases drinkers) of the caliber of Goethe, Schiller, Bach and Luther, all of whom at one time lived and worked in and around the German state of Saxony. It must have something to do with the local water – or perhaps the beer. The enigmatic beer style known as gose (pronounced “goes-uh”) is associated with Leipzig, though it did not originate there, and has experienced a relatively sudden spate of popularity in the craft beer world, but imitations pale in comparison to the beguiling brew found in Saxony. Oddly, gose is more famous abroad than at home.

One of the quintessential group of beer styles hailing from Germany, Bock Beers are the higher gravity versions of the Bavarian Helles and Munich Dunkel styles. The name – which in German means (male) goat – is most likely derived from the city of Einbeck and not from the fact that one feels like being hit by a goat after consuming one too many bock beers.

One of the more obscure styles in existence, Piwo Grodziskie (the Polish name) or Grätzer (the name in German) disappeared from the brewing landscape in the early 1990s and only recently has received some attention from craft brewers that revived the style. It earns its obscurity not only through its the very limited availability, but also through the use of rare oak-smoked wheat malt that is the exclusive malt used to brew the beer. Despite this unusual ingredient, the beer is a great, refreshing beverage that deserves more attention.

Well-versed brewers know the main ingredients of beer – water, malt, hops. And a bit of yeast, that’s actually all that a beer needs. But is it really all? When having a look at Belgian beers, it’s difficult to avoid beers brewed with other ingredients, such as fruit. But why are they contained in beer? Let’s browse history a bit. Tradition has it that the ancient Egyptians added fruit to beer. One can only speculate about the reason. Some say simply for improving taste; others say that addition of fruit introduced more fermentable sugar, raised the alcohol content and made the beers “more intoxicating”. In the records of later centuries, recipes are found again and again describing addition of fruit to beer, but none of these beers established themselves. But wait – some will say –, what about e.g. Belgian Kriek? However, this Belgian speciality including sour cherries isn’t as old as many would like to think. Kriek was brewed, in significant quantities, and sold as of the 1930s. Beers such as Framboise Lambic made their appearance quite late, brewing of these beers started only in the 1950’s.

Gose is an enigmatic sour, salty wheat beer and has been brewed with a variety of herbs over much of its history. It originated in Goslar, Germany, at some point migrated to Leipzig and is now being brewed the world over; however, it has lost none of its mystery. This beer style was popular for a long time in the German states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia; but unfortunately like so many old European beer styles, during the calamitous 20th century, it faded slowly away. It was officially pronounced dead in 1966. Against all odds, however, the beer experienced a revival behind the Iron Curtain in 1986, in large part thanks to the efforts of a single publican in Leipzig. Gose has been said to divide beer drinkers into two camps: those who appreciate its tart, salty, citrusy flavor mingled with coriander (and perhaps other spices) and those who simply do not. For those who appreciate it, read on...

In an ad from 1907, Bass Barley Wine was praised as being similar in taste to “good old Sherry” but having the advantage of “high nutritive quality over all wine”. The ad claimed that the ale was able to help cure “low fever and other wasting diseases”, help nursing mothers and “give sleep to the restless”. Today, the health benefits of barley wines are not being advertised anymore – the beers are generally best known for their complex aroma and flavor and despite a revival in popularity are still among the rarer finds in the world of beer.

Pilsner is by far the world’s most popular beer style. After being invented in the mid-19th century it was copied many times and led to the development of many substyles like Munich Helles, Dortmund Export, American Pilsner and more.

When thinking of Stout most people think of Dry Stout, the black ale with a creamy head from Ireland. In actuality, there are several other members in the Stout family that are lesser known but definitely worth examining. In this article we will be looking at the most prominent ones as well as a few of the more obscure examples. All Stouts share a common history as well as their signature black color and roast malt character but there are notable differences that deserve exploration.

Dubbel Ales are mid-strength, dark, somewhat sweet, mildly hopped, top fermented beers of Belgian origin. Although they are very flavorful, they typically finish on the dry side due to the use of highly fermentable sugar in addition to specialty grains. They are typically high in carbonation (up to 8 g/l) resulting from bottle refermentation.

Pumpkin ale is probably the quintessential American beer style, having its roots in colonial times when the access to barley and wheat in North America was limited and pumpkin was used as a source of starch for brewing. As barley malt became more accessible, the production of pumpkin beer declined and eventually ceased. The beer made a comeback with the resurgence of US microbrewers in the eighties of the last century and is now a popular seasonal in the portfolio of many brewers...

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