German Origin Ale Styles

Each style description is purposefully written independently of any reference to another beer style. Furthermore, as much as possible, beer character is not described in terms of ingredients or process. These guidelines attempt to emphasize final evaluation of the product and try not to judge or regulate the formulation or manner in which it was brewed, except in special circumstances that clearly define a style.

German Origin Ale Styles

  1. German-Style Koelsch
  2. German-Style Koelsch (Kölsch)
German-Style Koelsch (Kölsch)
  • Color: Straw to gold
  • Clarity: Chill haze should not be present
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt character is very low to low with soft sweetness. Caramel character should not be evident.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Hop aroma and flavor is low, and if evident, should express noble hop character.
  • Perceived Bitterness: Medium to medium-high
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity-estery aromas and flavors should be absent or present at very low levels. Light pear-apple-Riesling wine-like fruitiness may be apparent, but is not required for this style. Diacetyl should not be perceived.
  • Body: Low to medium-low. Dry and crisp.
  • Additional notes: Traditional examples often display persistent head retention. Small amounts of wheat can be used in brewing beers of this style. Koelsch-style beers are fermented at warmer temperatures than is typical for lagers, but at lower temperatures than most English and Belgian-style ales. They are aged cold. Ale yeast is used for fermentation. Lager yeast is sometimes used for bottle conditioning or final cold conditioning.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.042-1.048
    (10.5-11.9 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.006-1.010
    (1.5-2.6 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.8%-4.2%
    (4.8%-5.3%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    22-30
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    3-6
    (6-12 EBC)
  1. German-Style Altbier
  2. German-Style Altbier
German-Style Altbier
  • Color: Copper to dark brown
  • Clarity: Appearance should be bright; chill haze should not be present
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: A variety of malts including wheat may be used to produce medium-low to medium malt aroma and flavor. Roast malt attributes may be present at very low levels.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Low to medium. Character should reflect traditional German noble hops.
  • Perceived Bitterness: Medium to very high, although 25 to 35 IBU is typical for Altbiers originating in Dusseldorf.
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity-estery aroma should be absent or very low. Fruity-estery flavors can be low. No diacetyl should be perceived.
  • Body: Medium
  • Additional notes: The Altbier style is originally from the Dusseldorf area. The overall impression is clean, crisp and flavorful with a dry finish.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.044-1.052
    (11-12.9 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.014
    (2.1-3.6 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.6%-4.4%
    (4.6%-5.6%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    25-52
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    11-19
    (22-38 EBC)
  1. Kellerbier or Zwickelbier Ale
  2. Kellerbier or Zwickelbier Ale
Kellerbier or Zwickelbier Ale
  • Color: Varies depending on the underlying German ale style
  • Clarity: Can be clear to moderately cloudy. Slight yeast haze is acceptable and traditional. These beers are unfiltered, but may become clear with age. May exhibit poor head retention.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Kellerbier ales are unfiltered German-style Altbier or Koelsch. Malt aromas and flavors typical of these styles should be present.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Varies depending on underlying style. Hop character may be muted by the presence of yeast.
  • Perceived Bitterness: Varies depending on underlying style. Bitterness may be suppressed by the presence of yeast.
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Low to medium yeast aroma and flavor is desirable. Very low to moderately low levels of sulfur should be apparent. Low levels of acetaldehyde or other volatiles, normally reduced during lagering, may or may not be apparent. The presence of sulfur and acetaldehyde should enhance the flavor of these beers. Fruity-estery levels may vary slightly from the underlying styles due to age and presence of yeast.
  • Body: Varies depending on underlying style
  • Additional notes: These unfiltered beers are packaged and served with low to moderate amounts of yeast. They may be filtered and dosed with yeast during packaging. Beers containing non-standard ingredients or aged in flavor-imparting vessels should be categorized elsewhere.
    When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Such information should include the underlying German ale style upon which the entry is based.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    Varies with style
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    Varies with style
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    Varies with style
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    Varies with style
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    Varies with style
  1. Berliner-Style Weisse
  2. Berliner-Style Weisse
Berliner-Style Weisse
  • Color: Straw to pale. These are the lightest of all the German wheat beers. Versions made with fruits or other flavorings may take on corresponding hues.
  • Clarity: May appear hazy or cloudy from yeast or chill haze
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt sweetness is absent
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Non-existent to very low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity-estery aroma and flavor should be evident at low to medium levels. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Brettanomyces character may be absent or present at low to medium levels, and if present may be expressed as horsey, goaty, leathery, phenolic, fruity and/or acidic aromas and flavors. The unique combination of yeast and lactic acid bacteria fermentation yields a beer that is acidic and highly attenuated.
  • Body: Very low
  • Additional notes: Carbonation is high. Berliners are sometimes served with sweet fruit or herbal syrups. Contemporary examples may be brewed or served with fruit, spices or other ingredients.
    When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Subcategories for unfruited and fruited or flavored versions of the style could be created. For unfruited versions, brewer would indicate that no fruit or flavor has been added. Fruited or flavored entries would be accompanied by a very brief description of the fruit/flavor used by the brewer.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.028-1.044
    (7.1-11 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.004-1.006
    (1-1.5 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    2.2%-4.0%
    (2.8%-5.0%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    3-6
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    2-4
    (4-8 EBC)
  1. Leipzig-Style Gose
  2. Leipzig-Style Gose
Leipzig-Style Gose
  • Color: Straw to light amber
  • Clarity: Cloudy to bright. Haze may or may not be from yeast.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt sweetness is not perceived to very low
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Not perceived to low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Medium to high lactic acid character should be evident and expressed as a sharp, refreshing sourness. These beers are not excessively aged.
  • Body: Low to medium-low
  • Additional notes: These beers typically contain malted barley and unmalted wheat, with some versions also containing oats. Salt (table salt) and coriander may be present in low amounts, or may be absent.
    When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Such information might include whether coriander, salt and/or Brettanomyces is used and/or other information about the brewing process.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.036-1.056
    (9-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.012
    (2.1-3.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.5%-4.3%
    (4.4%-5.4%)
  • • Bitterness (IBU)
    5-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    2-7
    (4-14 EBC)
  1. Contemporary-Style Gose
  2. Contemporary-Style Gose
Contemporary-Style Gose
  • Color: Usually straw to medium amber, and can take on the color of added fruits or other ingredients such as darker malts.
  • Clarity: Cloudy/hazy with suspended yeast
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt aroma and flavor is not perceived to very low
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to low
  • Perceived Bitterness: Not perceived to medium
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Horsey, leathery or earthy aromas contributed by Brettanomyces yeasts may be evident but at low levels as these beers do not undergo prolonged aging. Contemporary Gose may be fermented with pure beer yeast strains, or with yeast mixed with bacteria. Alternatively, they may be spontaneously fermented. Low to medium lactic acid character is evident in all examples expressed as a sharp, refreshing sourness.
  • Body: Low to medium-low
  • Additional notes: These beers may be brewed with malted barley, wheat and oats and unmalted barley, wheat, and oats. contemporary examples may also contain other grains. As in traditional examples, low level salt (table salt) and coriander additions may or may not be present in Contemporary Gose. Attributes from the use of a wide variety of herbs, spices, floral or fruits not found in traditional Leipzig-Style Gose may also be present and in harmony with overall flavor profile.
    When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Such information might include any herbs, spices, fruit or other added ingredients, and/or information about the brewing process.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.036-1.056
    (9-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.004-1.012
    (2.1-3.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.5%-4.3%
    (4.4%-5.4%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    5-30
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    3-9
    (6-18 EBC)
  1. South German-Style Hefeweizen
  2. South German-Style Hefeweizen
South German-Style Hefeweizen
  • Color: Straw to amber
  • Clarity: If served with yeast, appearance may be very cloudy.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium-low
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived to very low
  • Perceived Bitterness: Very low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Med-low to med-high fruity and phenolic attributes are hallmarks of this style. Phenolic attributes such as clove, nutmeg, smoke and vanilla are present. Banana ester aroma and flavor should be present at low to medium-high levels. No diacetyl should be perceived.
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat. Hefeweizens are very highly carbonated. These beers are typically (though not always) roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a characteristically fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.047-1.056
    (11.7-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.016
    (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.9%-4.4%
    (4.9%-5.6%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    3-9
    (6-18 EBC)
  1. South German-Style Kristal Weizen
  2. South German-Style Kristal Weizen
South German-Style Kristal Weizen
  • Color: Straw to amber
  • Clarity: Clear with no chill haze present. Because the beer is filtered, no yeast should be present.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt sweetness is very low to medium-low
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived to very low
  • Perceived Bitterness: Very low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: The aroma and flavor is very similar to Hefeweizen with the caveat that fruity and phenolic characters are not combined with the yeasty flavor and fuller-bodied mouthfeel of yeast. The phenolic characteristics are often described as clove-like or nutmeg-like and can be smoky or even vanilla-like. A Banana-like ester aroma and flavor is often present. No diacetyl should be perceived. Kristal Weizens are well attenuated and very highly carbonated.
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat. They have no yeast flavor and they exhibit a cleaner, drier mouthfeel than counterparts served with yeast.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.047-1.056
    (11.7-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.016
    (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.9%-4.4%
    (4.9%-5.6%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    3-9
    (6-18 EBC)
  1. German-Style Leichtes Weizen
  2. German-Style Leichtes Weizen
German-Style Leichtes Weizen
  • Color: Straw to copper-amber
  • Clarity: If served with yeast, appearance may be very cloudy.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium-low
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived to very low
  • Perceived Bitterness: Very low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: The phenolic and estery aromas typical of Weissbiers should be present but less pronounced in this style. The overall flavor profile is less complex than Hefeweizen due to a lower alcohol content and there is less yeasty flavor. No diacetyl should be perceived.
  • Body: Low with a lighter mouthfeel than Hefeweizen. The German word “leicht” means light, and as such these beers are light versions of Hefeweizen.
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent wheat malt. They are often roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.028-1.044
    (7.1-11 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.004-1.008
    (1-2.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    2.0%-2.8%
    (2.5%-3.5%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    3.5-15
    (7-30 EBC)
  1. South German-Style Bernsteinfarbenes Weizen
  2. South German-Style Bernsteinfarbenes Weizen
South German-Style Bernsteinfarbenes Weizen
  • Color: Amber to light brown. The German word
  • Clarity: If served with yeast, appearance may be very cloudy.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Distinct sweet maltiness and caramel or bready character is derived from the use of medium-colored malts
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: The phenolic and estery aromas and flavors typical of Weissbiers are present but less pronounced in Bernsteinfarbenes Weissbiers. These beers should be well attenuated and very highly carbonated. No diacetyl should be perceived.
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent wheat malt. They are often roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.048-1.056
    (11.9-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.016
    (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.8%-4.3%
    (4.8%-5.4%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    9-13
    (18-26 EBC)
  1. South German-Style Dunkel Weizen
  2. South German-Style Dunkel Weizen
South German-Style Dunkel Weizen
  • Color: Copper-brown to very dark
  • Clarity: If served with yeast, appearance may be very cloudy
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Distinct sweet maltiness and a chocolate-like character from roasted malt characterize this beer style. Dark barley malts are frequently used along with dark Cara or color malts.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: The phenolic and estery aromas and flavors typical of Weissbiers are present but less pronounced in Dunkel Weissbiers. Dunkel Weissbiers should be well attenuated and very highly carbonated. No diacetyl should be perceived
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent wheat malt. They are often roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a characteristically fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.048-1.056
    (11.9-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.016
    (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.8%-4.3%
    (4.8%-5.4%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    10-25
    (20-50 EBC)
  1. South German-Style Weizenbock
  2. South German-Style Weizenbock
South German-Style Weizenbock
  • Color: Gold to very dark
  • Clarity: If served with yeast, appearance may be very cloudy.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium malty sweetness should be present. If dark, a mild roast malt character should emerge in the flavor and, to a lesser degree, in the aroma.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Balanced, clove-like phenolic and fruity-estery banana notes produce a well-rounded flavor and aroma. No diacetyl should be perceived. Carbonation should be high.
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent wheat malt. They are often roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.066-1.080
    (16.1-19.3 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.016-1.028
    (4.1-7.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    5.5%-7.5%
    (7.0%-9.5%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    15-35
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    4.5-30
    (9-60 EBC)
  1. German-Style Rye Ale
  2. German-Style Rye Ale
German-Style Rye Ale
  • Color: Pale to very dark, with darker versions ranging from dark amber to dark brown.
  • Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable in versions packaged and served without yeast. In versions served with yeast, appearance may range from hazy to very cloudy.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: In darker versions, malt aromas and flavors can optionally include low roasted malt characters expressed as cocoa/chocolate or caramel, and/or aromatic toffee, caramel, or biscuit attributes. Malt sweetness can vary from low to medium. Low level roast malt astringency is acceptable when balanced with low to medium malt sweetness.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Very low to low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Low to medium banana–like and/or other fruity-estery aromas and flavors are typical. Clove-like and/or other phenolic aromas and flavors should also be present. No yeast aroma should be evident in versions without yeast. Versions packaged and served without yeast will not have yeast flavor or full mouthfeel typical of beers with yeast. Versions with yeast will have low to medium yeast aroma and flavor and a full mouthfeel, but the yeast character should not overpower the balance of rye and barley malts, esters and phenolics.
  • Body: Low to medium
  • Additional notes: Grist should include at least 30 percent rye malt. Versions with yeast are often roused during pouring. When yeast is present, the beer should have a yeasty flavor and a fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.047-1.056
    (11.7-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.016
    (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.9%-4.4%
    (4.9%-5.6%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    4-25
    (8-50 EBC)
  1. Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbier
  2. Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbier
Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbier
  • Color: Pale to chestnut brown
  • Clarity: If served with yeast, appearance may be very cloudy.
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: In darker versions, a detectable degree of roast malt may be present without being aggressive. Smoky malt aroma and flavor, ranging from low to high, should be present. Smoke character should be smooth, not harshly phenolic, suggesting a mild sweetness.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not perceived
  • Perceived Bitterness: Low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: The aroma and flavor of a Weiss Rauchbier with yeast should be fruity and phenolic. The phenolic characteristics are often described as clove, nutmeg, vanilla and smoke. Banana esters are often present at low to medium-high levels. No diacetyl should be perceived. Weissbiers are well attenuated and very highly carbonated.
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: These beers are made with at least 50 percent wheat malt. They are often roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a fuller mouthfeel.
  • Original Gravity (°Plato)
    1.047-1.056
    (11.7-13.8 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)
    1.008-1.016
    (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)
    3.9%-4.4%
    (4.9%-5.6%)
  • Bitterness (IBU)
    10-15
  • Color SRM (EBC)
    4-18
    (8-36 EBC)
Unchanged: “2018 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines used with permission of Brewers Association”